Marissa Largo

Tinikling Lesson (2007)

The Tinikling Lesson consists of 2 videos; one depicts the process of learning a Filipino folk dance and the other is a looped version of the steps. While one video shows the rhythmic repetition of the dance steps, the other exposes my fumbles and awkwardness in learning this dance, elucidating how I am simultaneously the process and product of cultural influences. They are juxtaposed in the corner of the room to create a meeting place where my emergent sense of cultural identity is negotiated.

The tinikling, as a traditional folk dance, represents graceful movements of tikling birds skipping through grass, trees, and bamboo traps set by farmers. In order to avoid the “trap” of cultural essentialism, I take a critical stance on the meaning of cultural identity; it is a phenomenon that is socially constructed, meditated, and in a constant state of flux. I reinterpret this cultural expression to make it meaningful to my context and to my understanding of what it means to be a Filipino-Canadian and thus, becomes a document of my process of identity construction.