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Fallon Middle School P.E. Brings Philippine Tinikling and Swing Dance to Dublin

September 18, 2018

DUBLIN, CA– returned to Fallon Middle School over the past two weeks to observe and celebrate innovation demonstrated by the Physical Education Department. While we have witnessed these sections previously, what is unmistakable is the enthusiasm demonstrated by both the students and the parent population.

In sequence, we were on site to view the final presentation of the Tinikling Showcase – participating through all grade levels. Tinikling is a traditional Philippine dance that dates back to the Spanish colonial era. It requires bamboo as a percussive instrument and it is banged in tandem against the ground between two people and conducted in rhythm. At Fallon, these rods were replicated with oversized PVC piping and wood blocks. While it looks fairly innocent at first, it requires great coordination to avoid a potential ankle injury. We spoke with two P.E. staff members to learn more.

DSC_1881 Describe the steps and typical time frame for students to become proficient in Tinikling.

Jim Parsons: “We start with the students learning about rhythm and how to keep to a beat. This takes about a period as we have them practice clapping along to the song of “We Will Rock You by Queen. We then have them spend some time just with the poles and wood practicing the beat. This is something that will continue to improve on each day all the way up to the Showcase.

“There are a total of five steps they are required to perform and then a sixth original move they create within their group. Each step takes about two days to master. We start with the most basic step, side to side, but then they get progressively harder with the one footed front to back, diagonal one foot front to back, the walk through, and the double hop. The great part of the progression is that their skills are improving so even though the steps are becoming more difficult they are able to pick them up much faster. Allowing them a creative side is so fun, as our students are so talented and the moves them come up with are truly impressive.” How might the P.E. department expand this interesting section? Have you added more cultural elements or invited in a “professional” Tinikling dance troop to demonstrate?

Marissa Volk: “Our P.E. Department has expanded the Tinikling dance unit the past few years by inviting parents to come watch the Tinikling dance showcase. Additionally, we have shown videos of outside groups performing the Filipino cultural dance to inspire the students with adding creative dance steps to their routines. We would love expand the unit by inviting a Filipino cultural dance group from the community to come and perform for the students possibly in the future, as well as to maybe have students try and dress up in cultural attire on the day of the performance.”

In the following week, we continued our coverage of the very popular Swing Dance section which ultimately leads to a friendly competition during an extended AP period on Friday. One of the benefits of this program is to introduce the basic levels of courtesy, respect and partnership required to help make dancing succeed. The entire exercise seems to break down any reticence or reluctance to participate in a partner dance. All grade levels participate and clearly, like any competition, the skill levels rise with every round. What makes this so thrilling is the genuine enthusiasm of the crowd that cheers on every participant. We reached out to staff member Laura King to articulate why this section is so special. How can you explain the popularity of the swing dance section

Laura King: “I think the popularity in our swing dance unit has grown because we
offer a swing dance competition at the end of the unit. Each year, our swing dance competition has grown. This year, we had over 100 couples voluntarily find a partner and enter our swing competition. Our competition lasted 3 days, with the final 12 couples dancing at a swing rally in front of the entire school. This was the first year having the finals in front of the entire school and the energy was beyond what we thought it would be. We hope this will put a fire in the students to want to compete next year! During our swing unit, we create a fun culture where students can take a break from the stresses of their academic load and learn some valuable social skills. Each year, it seems as though the competitors are trying to top the last year’s winners.” The students all appear to support one another. Was this one of the original goals of introducing this activity? In what other ways do they benefit?

King: “It was really sweet to see the finalist give each other hugs and congratulate each other. We have been holding AP practice at school for the past three weeks, so we feel that the other students really see how hard these couples are working. They see them putting in the extra effort and work, so they want to support their efforts. One of the original goals of this unit was to teach social skills and to teach how to respect one another. We take the first week to teach students how to introduce themselves to each other, how to properly ask someone how to dance, how to graciously accept a dance and how to be respectful toward each other. It is really fun to see the young boys grow into young gentleman and politely ask a lady to dance and escort her to the dance floor and back to her seat. One issue we figured out this year after having conversations with our classes is that they are really stressed with their school work, extracurricular activities and homework load. We really wanted this year to be about having fun. At the end of the day, they are still kids and they need to remember that sometimes. That is why we have a Swing dress up day at school where kids and teachers dress in swing attire and why we put on such a fun swing competition event.”

What else can be said? The innovation demonstrated by this entire department continues and benefits all of the Mustangs. And if you couldn’t fit this into your schedule, please enjoy these images and video. Thank you Fallon Physical Education for sharing the joy of dance!


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