Encyclopedia of Dance: Folk Dances


Folk art is the quintessence of the mentality of the nation, the character, aspirations and hopes of the people. Through folk song and dance, you can learn the history and dreams of the people, their hopes for the future

Folk dance is one of the most ancient arts. It arose because of the need for a person to express his emotional state with the help of the body. Dance reflects the daily life of a person, his workdays. Joyful and sad impressions were also expressed through movements to a certain rhythm, and later to music.

History of dance

The dance originated at the dawn of history in the period of the primitive communal system. All important events in the life of a primitive man — birth, death, treatment of a patient, the choice of a new leader of a tribe, a prayer for a harvest, good weather — were accompanied by dances. Dance art was and is present in the cultural traditions of any human community, in any ethnographic group. Gradually, the dance separated from the song and became a separate art form.

ritual dance

Over time, the choreography has changed, each ethnic group has its own characteristics. In ancient Egypt, dance art was predominantly ritual in nature. In antiquity, paramilitary dances were added to ritual dances, designed to raise the spirit of warriors before the battle. In ancient Greece, with the development of theatrical art, stage dance also appears. Thus, in the ancient period, folk dances can be divided into stage, military, sacred (religious, ritual) and social. In the Middle Ages, there was a division into court and village dance. This division does not yet have clear boundaries, and often the same movements were present in both palace and folklore dances.

In the 17th-19th centuries, ballroom dancing and ballet developed. But the origins of court and stage choreography still lie in folk dance. Now there are many dance styles and types, but all of them are united by the unity of music, rhythm and movement.

Types of folk dance

The most ancient type of folk dance, which exists in almost all ethnographic groups, is the round dance. His movements are simple and consist of walking in a circle to musical accompaniment or singing. The circle shape may have symbolized the sun. The round dance existed and still exists among all Slavic peoples. In Lithuania it is called korogod, in Moldavia — chora, in Bulgaria, Romania — horo, among Croats, Bohemians, Dalmatians — kolo.

One of the most ancient dance traditions is the tradition of the African continent. The peculiarity of Negro dance is in the predominant meaning of rhythm over music. African culture has provided material for the development of many dances in Latin America: mambo, merengue, samba, cha-cha-cha, lambada and many others. Even modern dance styles — jazz dance, popping, rock and roll, hip-hop, breakdance, RnB and others — are based on the folk art of the black population of the globe.

Folk dance created the basis for ballroom dancing. So, the well-known and beloved waltz originated from the ancient folk dance Volta, the mazurka, which became the queen of the ball in the 18-19 centuries — from the Polish folk dances mazur, kujawiak and oberek.

folk dances

Some folk dances are the hallmark of one country, like tarantella for Italy, «Kalinka», «Lady» for Russia, Cossack, Hopak for Ukraine, Krakowiak for Poland, Czardash for Hungary. And others have spread throughout the world, including the national characteristics of different regions, like polka and gypsy dances. There are countless styles and types of folk dances, but they all have one thing in common — they reflect the annals of the history of the people, their soul and character.

Features of folk dance

Folk dance is democratic. To express your emotions and feelings with the help of body movements, you do not need to be a professional: folk dance is available to everyone. Folklore dance is anonymous, it does not have a specific author. Movements and music are passed down from generation to generation, changing over time.

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