Zapin (Malay)

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The music for Zapin comes from an ensemble of traditional instruments which include the lute (gambus), gypsy-type bongos (marwas) and the violin.There are no hard and fast rules as to the number of dancers that perform. However because of the very interactive nature of this dance, it is usually performed in pairs.

The dancers can then play with each other, teasing, challenging and enjoying each other company. It is most popular in Johor.

There are numerous forms of Zapin dances and it varies from state to state. One of the most popular forms and certainly more evolved and intricate is the Zapin Tenglu from the town of Mersing. Said to be inspired by the ebb and flow of the tide and the lives of fishermen, the dance has many unexpected movements like a rotation of the body from the waist followed by a sudden accented, sharp and held movement of the arms and shoulders. It is said that these movements are derived from the feeling of being tossed around in a fishing boat and having to catch yourself before you are thrown overboard.



  • Tease: To laugh at someone or say unkind things about them.
  • Intricate: Having a lot of details arranged in a difficult way.
  • Sharp: Having a thin edge or point that can cut something.


If you would like to learn the steps to dance Zaping here is a video.


  • Is there any Mexican traditional dance similar to this one?

Session 3

Welcome to this activity created by Learning Advisor Mr. Jon Valle from Polanco Branch. Take note of all the pink words, read the text, watch the video and answer the question in the comment section below.

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