The Magunatip Bamboo Dance of the Murut warriors is the most iconic and popular dance out of all the dances in Sabah. The name “Magunatip” was derived from the word “apit” which means “the press between two surfaces”.
During the dance, two dancers will be sitting while holding two bamboo pieces on the opposite side of each other and start off by tapping the bamboo poles together on the floor to create a rhythm. It then follows with the loud music of the tagunggak (bamboo idiophones) and tambor (drum). Two “Warriors” will then jump in between the clapping bamboo poles in perfect sync while avoiding getting hit by the bamboo poles. This spectacular jaw-dropping dance takes skills, agility, and most of all precision because just the slightest miscalculation in the dance could lead to a very painful ordeal.
To heighten the intensity, the movement of the bamboo poles and music tempo will increase in speed. From a distance, the dancers will appear as if they are floating in mid-air with the amazing speed of their movements.
Generations ago, the Magunatip dance first started off with a farmer which was known by the community as a prankster. During his break, he would place two bamboo poles on the ground and uses them to clip the foot of his friends when they were on their break. To avoid getting hit, victims would quickly hop or jump over these poles. This mischievous prank slowly evolved into a dance that became an important component to the Murut People in terms of celebrations and rites.