Folk Dance - History and Types of Folk Dance

Romanian Folk Dance

With each passing year, customs and beliefs of groups of people get built little by little, slowly with time forming into traditions. Folk dances represent one of the strongest ways these (sometimes truly ancient) traditions of countries and regions can be showcased to the public. Even though many traditional dances bear the name of an ethnic dance, not all of them remained folk dances, but all of them try to emphasize the cultural roots of the particular dance. Some of them morphed over time into religious dances, and as such, they are not primarily used to showcase tradition but to enhance religious ceremonies and beliefs. Such dances are often called religious or ritual dances.

Folk dances are usually danced at social gatherings (which can be formed spontaneously or during yearly celebrations) that can but are not required to have a particular dancing stage and are almost always so simple to dance that new dancers and amateurs are encouraged to start dancing with everyone else. Such dances almost never have an official governing body that is keeping the development of folk dance in check. Instead of that, the morphing of the folk dances in their countries and local regions happens spontaneously by the changes with local traditions. Modern dances that have developed spontaneously such as hip hop are not regarded as folk dance, and they are often called as “street dances”.

Different Types of Folk Dance

Some of the most notable folk dances from all around the world are:

  • Ball de bastons – Weapon dance from Spain and Portugal
  • Céilidh – Gaelic folk dance originating from Scotland and Ireland
  • Clogging – Folk dance that features beating of heavy footwear on the floor
  • English country dance – Traditional English folk dance that is also danced in France and Germany
  • Fandango – Traditional Spanish couples dance that is accompanied by guitars and clapping hands or castanets.
  • Georgian folk dances – They include dances such as Kartuli, Khorumi, Acharuli, Partsa, Kazbeguri, Khevsuruli and many others.
  • Greek dances – Rich Greek history has borne over 100 of traditional folk dances, including a dozen that was danced at ancient feasts such as Angelica, Carpaea, Cordax and others.
  • Hora - Traditional folk dance of Balkans, danced in Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria and several other countries.
  • Kolo – Folk dance of that is danced in South Slavic countries such as Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia.
  • Irish Dance – Traditional folk dance that has several forms of dancing, including popular Irish Step Dance.
  • Italian folk dance – Italy is a home of many popular folk dances such as Tarantella, Pizzica, Monferrina, Calabrian Tarantella and Ballu tundu.
  • Jota – Popular Spanish folk dance.
  • Morris Dance – Traditional English dance is originating from the 15th century.
  • Polka – Very popular traditional dance from the Czech Republic that is danced today all around the world.
  • Turkish dances – Bar, Halay, Horon, Zeybek and Sufi spinning dance.
  • Hungarian dances – Most famous Hungarian folk dances are Verbuňk, Ugrós, Karikázóm, Legényes and Csárdás.
  • Polska – Traditional folk dance of Nordic countries (Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Norway)
  • Square Dance – Traditional dance originating from England, it involves four pairs of dancers.
  • Sword (or Weapon) dances – Genre of folk dances, consisting of dozens upon dozens of individual dances from all around the world
  • Dollu Kunitha – Very popular drum-based dance from India.
  • Bhangra – Famous Punjabi harvest dance.
  • Attan - The national dance of Pashtun regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
  • Khigga – Celebration or Wedding circle dance of Assyria
  • Odori – Japanese folk dance, performed at streets during celebrations and parades
  • Buyō – Japanese geisha and artist dance.
Dutch Folk Dance