Sinkil dance takes its name from the bells worn on the ankles of the Muslim princess. Perhaps one of the oldest of truly Filipino dances, the Singkil recounts the epic legend of the "Darangan" of the Maranao people of Mindanao. This epic, written sometime in the 14th century, tells the fateful story of Princess Gandingan, who was caught in the middle of a forest during an earthquake caused by the diwatas, or fairies or nymph of the forest.
The rhythmic clapping of criss-crossed bamboo poles represent the trees that were falling, which she gracefully avoids. Her slave loyally accompanies her throughout her ordeal. Finally, she is saved by the prince. Dancers wearing solemn faces and maintaining a dignified pose being dancing at a slow pace which soon progresses to a faster tempo skillfully manipulate apir, or fans which represent the winds that prove to be auspicious. The dancers weave expertly through criss-crossed bamboos.
When performed by ladies of the royalty of Lanao, the dancer is usually accompanied by a waiting lady, who holds a beautifully decorated umbrella over the Princess' head wherever she goes. Royal princesses to this day in the Sulu Archipelago are required to learn this most difficult and noble dance.
Singkil Dance Steps
- Part One Start the Singkil dance by using hopping and stepping patterns. Climb onto a designated set of bamboos being held horizontally by two men. Continue hopping and stepping patterns on the bamboo to move around while making body and hand movements.
- Part Two
Enter making slow point steps while a fan is in each hand. Using the wrists, move the fan in a variety of ways, including up and down movements and swirling movements to tell a story.
- Part Three
Enter and dance to the center of the stage with a fan in both hands and moving your hips and arms. In the center, dance in a stationary position. Move only the hips and arms. Use the fan in both hands to make swirls along the body while continually dancing. The men will begin clicking the bamboos; move along the bamboos, avoiding any of the clicking. Continue this when the male dancer comes out to end the courting aspect of the dance.