What are Folk Dances?

What Does Folkloric dances Mean

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 culture . The term from the English voice folklore : "popular wisdom."



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

Folkloric dances are usually a socially consumed show, of cultural and even tourist importance. They involve a certain level of preparation and tend to take place within the framework of festivities , national celebrations or some type of jubilee. They should not be confused with ceremonial or ethnic dances, which are generally associated with rituals or tribal societies.

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

See also: Folk art

Characteristics of folk dances

A large number of dancers usually participate in folk dance.

In general terms, all folk dance is characterized by:

  • Have a large number of dancers , although there are also those that are performed in pairs.
  • Its practice is traditional and inherited from previous generations.
  • It is danced by ordinary people, which means that it is not necessarily a professional practice , although there may also be specialized contests, organized independently.
  • They collect the local and traditional values of the society, whether in their wardrobe, their movements, their accompanying music or their days of performance.
  • They do not have a collegiate or governing body that oversees their correct performance, but they are practiced spontaneously , with numerous variations and without the need for permits or authorizations.

Elements of folk dances

Folk dance usually requires a specific outfit.

Folkloric dances usually require, of course, trained dancers, who can dance in pairs, alone or in a group.

These members usually wear a specific, traditional or ceremonial attire , which links them to 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 . For this reason, many dances are elevated to the status of national symbol by the States .

Examples of folk dance

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 music from the quena, the charango, the erke or the bass drum, it is performed with simple movements, in pairs or in groups, moving around the musicians in a row, led 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, toque and dance, which constitutes its own body of rules and performances, which tend to vary from region to region. His most traditional image is that of women in long dresses, high heels that resonate on thewooden floor when dancing, and castanets.
  • Bohemian polka . Originally from the current Czech Republic, it became popular in Prague around 1835 and from there to the entire world, eventually generating native variants in Paraguay, Uruguay, Nicaragua or Mexico. It features a regular 2/4 time signature and fast tempo, so it is danced with side steps, jumps, and fast evolutions.
  • Venezuelan Joropo . Typical of the plains of this country, where it is considered a national dance, and of neighboring Colombian regions, it manifests itself in different ways by region, and is performed through a choreography in pairs, usually dressed in traditional clothing. The accompanying music involves 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 jarocho 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 from the Yucatan peninsula, where Mesoamerican civilization once existed, is performed in pairs, holding a scarf on the head, and with the typical clothing of the female huipil and the male guayabera.

Other types of dance

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

  • Tribal dances. Those performed in a tribal way, 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 types of family celebrations.
  • 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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