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Sayaw Sa Bangko Folk Dance Origin, History, Dance Steps, Music, Symbolism and Message [Sayaw ed Tapew na Bangko]

Sayaw sa bangko or sayaw ed tapew na bangko is a dance originating in Pangasinan performed by a barefoot couple, usually male and female and is done, as the name suggests, on top of a bench. An early documentation of the dance was done by Francisca Reyes-Aquino, in the locality of Pangapisan, Lingayen. The only prop needed is a well-built bench that has no backrest, commonly called a carpenter’s bench. The simple bench should be able to carry the weight of two dancers. It is quite narrow, measuring six to seven inches, and has an average length of two to three yards. Its elevation is about two feet but may vary depending on the height of the dancers. Originally, the girl dons a camisa (loose blouse) over a skirt with an extended tail whose tip is tucked at the waist to allow easy movement. The boy sports a camisa de chino (loose collarless shirt) over a pair of colored pants. Music is in 2/4 and 3/4 time.

The dance requires strength, agility, coordination, and balance. It begins with the girl standing at the right of the boy in front of the bench. When music begins, the male dancer mounts the bench and assists the female dancer who may hop or step up the bench. Partners assume a ballroom dance position and bow to the audience with a three-step turn in place. The performance has four figures with increasing difficulty in movement. In all figures, the girl and boy hold hands in various ways which is necessary to maintain balance and coordination between the partners.

Sayaw sa bangko, Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Troupe
Sayaw sa bangko, Lahing Kayumanggi Dance Troupe, CCP, Manila, 2011 (CCP Collections)

The first figure consists of change steps with partners in a ballroom dance position moving through the length of the bench and turning clockwise to exchange places on the narrow surface. The second figure combines the coordinated hops, kicks, and jumps of the partners, exchanging places while executing these. Then they join palms of hands and perform an outward three-step turn. The third figure shows the fine footwork of the dance. The couple performs small change steps toward the end of the bench where partners carefully exchange places through small steps on the balls of the feet, which is necessary lest they fall off the narrow dancing area. The couple repeats this combination as they move to the other end of the bench. The fourth figure begins with change steps in preparation for exchanging places through playful hops. The combination is repeated to return to proper places. Then partners hold hands to alternately skip with each foot, swinging the elevated leg sideways in a lighthearted manner. For the final bow, girl and boy hold each other with inside hands, then make a three-step turn inward.

Sayaw sa bangko is a fun-filled dance usually performed by only one couple on one bench. Folk dance groups led by the Bayanihan Philippine National Folk Dance Company revised the choreography by adding more couples who rearrange many benches through the dance. Partners jump up and down through increasing levels of benches mounted on top of one another, reaching the height of four elevations. This version is replete with stunts to create suspense. The tall pyramid of benches is a big departure from the single bench in the rustic sayaw ed tapew na bangko. In the 2000s, the acrobatic version has become very popular and widely imitated by folk dance groups in the country and abroad. Tricks have been added, like using blindfolds on the dancer who will execute the jumps at the highest elevation to make the performance a daring and dangerous feat calculated to thrill spectators. A number of performers and critics, however, think that the addition of sensational tricks has turned the dance into something like a circus act. 


Sayaw sa Bangko, also known as the "Bench Dance," is a traditional Filipino folk dance that originated in the Philippines. This lively and colorful dance is typically performed by a group of dancers on top of a narrow bench or a long wooden table. The dance involves intricate footwork, balancing, and coordinated movements.

The dancers typically wear traditional Filipino clothing, such as barong Tagalog for men and Filipiniana dresses for women. They use the bench as a prop, stepping on and off it in a synchronized manner while performing various dance steps.

Sayaw sa Bangko is known for its fast-paced and energetic choreography, which often includes jumps, turns, and quick changes in direction. The dance is not only a display of skill but also a celebration of Filipino culture and heritage.

This dance is often performed during cultural festivals, school presentations, and other events that showcase Filipino traditions and dances. Sayaw sa Bangko is a beautiful representation of the rich cultural diversity and artistic expression found in the Philippines.


  • Namiki, Kanami. 2007. “Sayaw Filipino: A Study of Contrasting Representations of Philippine Culture by the Ramon Obusan Folkloric Group and the Bayanihan National Folkdance Company.” MA thesis. Singapore: National University of Singapore.
  • Reyes-Aquino, Francisca. 1960. Philippine Folk Dances 4. Quezon City: Kayumanggi Press.
  • UCLA SPCN. 2010. "Sayaw Sa Bangko." Accessed 28 May 2015. YouTube.

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