Friday, February 5, 2010

Folk Dancing

Folk Dance

Folk dance is a form of dance developed by a group of people that reflects the traditional life of the people of a certain country or region. Folk dancing originated in the 18th century to distinguish dance forms of common people from those of the upper classes. The steps of folk dances are passed through generations, rarely being changed. Folk dancing is usually associated with social activities, although some folk dances are performed competitively.

Many children games are traditional folk dances, such as "The Farmer in the Dell" and "London Bridge". Today, popular folk dances include square dancing, clogging, contra dancing, highland dancing and Irish jigs.

• They are dances performed at social functions by people with little or no professional training, often to traditional music or music based on traditional music.

• They are not designed for public performance or the stage, although traditional folk dances may be later arranged and set for stage performances.

• Their execution is dominated by an inherited tradition rather than by innovation (although like all folk traditions they do evolve)

• New dancers often learn informally by observing others and/or receiving help from others.

• The term "folk dance" is sometimes applied to dances of historical importance in European culture and history; typically originated before 20th century. For other cultures the terms "ethnic dance" or "traditional dance" are sometimes used, although the latter terms may encompass ceremonial dances.

• There are a number of modern dances, such as hip hop dance, that evolve spontaneously, but the term "folk dance" is generally not applied to them, and the terms "street dance" or "vernacular dance" are used instead. The term "folk dance" is reserved for dances which are to a significant degree bound by tradition and originated in the times when the distinction existed between the dances of "common folk" and the dances of the "high society".

• A number of modern ballroom dances originated from folk ones.

• The terms "ethnic" and "traditional" are used when it is required to emphasize the cultural roots of the dance. In this sense, nearly all folk dances are ethnic ones. If some dances, such as polka, cross ethnic boundaries and even cross the boundary between "folk" and "ballroom dance", ethnic differences are often considerable enough to mention, e.g., Czech polka vs. German polka.

• Not all ethnic dances are folk dances; for example, ritual dances or dances of ritual origin are not considered to be folk dances. Ritual dances are usually called "Religious dances" because of their purpose.

Types of folk dance:

Types of folk dance include clogging, English country dance, International folk dance, Irish dance, Maypole dance, Morris dance, Nordic Polska dance, Ball de bastons, Square dance, and Sword dance. Sword dances include Longsword dances and Rapper dancing. Some choreographed dances such as contra dance, Israeli folk dance, Scottish country dance, and modern Western square dance, are called folk dances, though this is not true in the strictest sense. Country dance overlaps with contemporary folk dance and ballroom dance. Most country dances and ballroom dances originated from folk dances, with gradual refinement over the years.

Austrian folk dance:

In Austria, folk dances in general are known as Folkloretänze, i.e. "folklore dances", whereas the Austrian type of folk dance is known as Volkstanz (literally "folk dance").

Figure dancing is a type of dance where different figures are put together with a certain tune and given a name. Round dancing, which includes the waltz, the polka, Zwiefacher etc, involves basic steps which can be danced to different tunes. In folk dancing, the waltz and the polka are in a slightly different form to standard ballroom dancing.

Austrian folk dance festivals follow a common sequence:

* everybody gets onto the dance floor and dances the opening round
* a welcoming speech is made
* waltzes are danced in blocks, with breaks in between.
* finally a special dance, often with a goodbye song.

Viennese festivals usually have four long sets of dances, with long breaks and figure dancing in between. Other parts of Austria have a larger number of shorter blocks (three to five dances each) with shorter breaks between them, and more figure dancing.


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