Encyclopedia of Dance: Polka


Polka can truly be called an international dance. This cheerful and mischievous dance is danced all over Europe. And each nationality, having mastered the basics of Czech dance, introduced its own national features and color into it.

The term «polka» comes from the Czech word p?lka, which means «half step». The fast pace requires agile footsteps, which makes the steps small, which led to the name of the dance. Poland is often considered the birthplace of the polka because of the consonant name, but this is not so. In addition, the Swedish folk dance with a musical size ¾ — Polish (polska) also introduces confusion.

History of occurrence

Polka is a cheerful, incendiary dance that appeared in the Czech province of Bohemia in the middle of the 19th century. Cheerful, joyful dance was appreciated, and, soon, not a single festival passed without a beloved dance. Polka is an integral part of any celebration: folk, secular, official.

The temperamental dance was also appreciated by classical composers: Bedrich Smetana, Antonin Dvorak, Johann Strauss-father and Johann Strauss-son and others. The polka quickly became fashionable in the Czech Republic, then in France, and then throughout Europe. In 1845, the dance was brought to Russia from Paris by the famous choreographer of the St. Petersburg imperial troupe, Nikolai Osipovich Goltz. First, the dance appeared on the stage, and then in the salons of aristocrats. Soon, not a single high-society reception could do without a polka. Languid ladies from high society were finally able to show their temperament in a cheerful and mischievous dance.

Now polka is common throughout Europe. In every corner, she has absorbed the national characteristics of different nationalities, and everyone who dances this dance rightfully considers it their own.

What is a polka?

Polka is a pair dance. The musical time signature is 2/4, the tempo is fast. In order to dance the polka, it is enough to learn a few basic movements, but the fast pace requires a virtuoso performance of them. The basic step of the polka is of the same name, it consists of half steps connected by a prefix and performed in a circle of a couple in a circle along the line of dance or against the line of dance. To make the dance steps more spectacular, the lady can make a turn under the arm of the gentleman. A gallop in a circle, stomps, picks and other pas will embellish the dance. Polka is both a concert and social dance. The choreographers put on a polka for demonstration on stage. And at parties, corporate parties and balls, the polka dances with any partner to the right music.



Polka conquered all of Europe. Almost every country has its own version of this dance. Polka is considered a folk dance in Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, Poland, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the republics of the former Yugoslavia and many others. The incendiary dance also penetrated the countries of Northern Europe, the British Isles, and even the United States and Latin America. Each nation has brought its own characteristics to the dance: the Estonian joksu-polka dances slowly, importantly, the Moldavian one is temperamental, the Belarusian one is graceful, the Ukrainian and Russian ones are fun. Having entered the repertoire of ballroom dances, the polka was replenished with ballroom varieties: the gallop polka, the mazurka polka, the cotillion polka appeared.

This light, cheerful dance has passed the test of time, and will delight us with its beauty, grace and cheerfulness for a long time to come.

Dance Features

The polka can be danced by all skill levels. This is one of the very first dances that children learn in kindergarten. A novice dancer can limit himself to one or two movements, and a real virtuoso can demonstrate all facets of his skill. Since the main movement of the polka is the circling of the couple in a circle, the dancers must have good vestibular apparatus and stamina.

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