What are folk dances?

We explain what are folk dances, their elements, characteristics and various examples. In addition, other types of dance.

  1. What are folk dances?

Folk dance, folk dance or typical dance, is a type of social dance, often practiced in groups, which is part of the cultural or traditional heritage of a society or a culture . The term from the English folklore voice : “popular wisdom.”

In other words, these are traditional dances, linked to the identity of the people and that usually pick up part of their imaginary or their traditions in their costumes, movements or at the time of the year in which they are performed.

Folk dances are usually a socially consumed spectacle of cultural and even tourist importance. They involve a certain level of preparation and usually take place within the framework of employer holidays , national celebrations or some kind of jubilee. They should not be confused with ceremonial or ethnic dances, which are generally associated with rites or tribal societies.

Commonly, these dances are inscribed in folklore and can sometimes mutate their content, giving rise to modern variants and reinterpretations of tradition.

  1. Characteristics of folk dances

peru folk dances
A large number of dancers usually participate in folk dance.

In general, all folk dance is characterized by:

  • Possess a large number of dancers , although there are also those that run as a couple.
  • Its practice is traditional and is inherited from previous generations.
  • It is danced by ordinary people, that is, it is not necessarily a professional practice , although there may also be specialized competitions, organized independently.
  • They collect the local and traditional values of society, whether in their costumes, their movements, their accompanying music or their days of execution.
  • They do not have a collegiate or governing body that monitors for their correct performance, but they are practiced spontaneously , with numerous variants and without the need for permits or authorizations.
  1. Elements of folk dancesCzech Republic folk dances

Folk dance usually requires a specific outfit.

Folk dances often require, of course, participants trained for dancing, who can dance in pairs, alone or in groups.

These members usually wear a specific, traditional or ceremonial attire , which links them with historical passages or traditional values. They have a musical accompaniment , which often plays old instruments, with the same criteria.

On the other hand, all folk dance is inscribed in a local tradition, so that they “belong” to all the individuals of a specific community , who find in it an element of their identity. Therefore, many dances are elevated to the status of national symbol by the States .

  1. Examples of folk dance

folk dances castanuela spain flamenco
In flamenco, castanets are a musical instrument that is part of the dance.

Some examples of folk dance are:

  • Andean carnival . Typical of the northern regions of Argentina and linked to the Andean pre-Hispanic traditions, it has variants in other Andean countries such as Colombia, Chile and Peru. Accompanied by the music of the quena, the charango, the erke or the hype, it is executed with simple movements, in pairs or in groups, moving around the musicians in a row, directed by a person with a banner or pennant, or disguised as dancing devil.
  • Andalusian flamenco . Typical of the Spanish region of Andalusia, Extremadura and Murcia, it links cante, touch and dance, which constitutes a body of norms and executions, which usually vary from region to region. Her most traditional image is that of women in long dresses, heels that resonate on the wooden floor when dancing, and castanets.
  • Bohemian polka . Originally from the current Czech Republic, it was popularized in Prague around 1835 and from there to the whole world, coming to engender native variants in Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua or Mexico. It has a regular 2/4 beat and fast tempo, so it is danced with side steps, jumps and rapid evolutions.
  • Venezuelan joropo . Own the plains of this country, where it is considered national dance, and from neighboring Colombian regions, it manifests itself in different ways by region, and is executed by a choreography in pairs, usually dressed in traditional clothing. The music that accompanies it implies the use of harp, four and maracas.
  • Mexican huapango . Practiced in the states of Puebla, Veracruz, San Luis Potosí or Hidalgo, in which it acquires different characteristics, it is danced on a wooden platform, wearing the typical jarochos dresses, similar to those of other Latin American dances of colonial roots. They are accompanied by violin music and two different types of guitar: the jarana and the huapanguera.
  • Yucatecan Jarana . Another typical Mexican dance, this time coming from the Yucatan Peninsula, where Mesoamerican civilization once existed, runs in pairs, holding a handkerchief over the head, and with the typical clothing of the female huipil and the male guayabera.
  1. Other types of dance

There are other types of dance in societies, dedicated to particular and ceremonial moments, such as:

  • The tribal dances . Those performed in a tribal manner, usually in ancestral populations or as part of shamanic acts (or inspired by them). They have a clear link with spirituality and mysticism.
  • The ceremonial dances . Those that are performed on special occasions and rituals, such as passages to adulthood, marriages or other family celebrations.
  • The religious dances . Those linked and recognized by a specific church or religious tradition, and that worship saints, God or specific religious episodes.

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