Dance Your Way Around the World

Dance Your Way Around the World

Dance Your Way Around the World

Blog125_Dance_GirlDancing-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldDance is a form of art as old as civilization itself. The earliest evidence of dance dates back to at least 3300 BC, during which time it is thought to have been used as a tool for social interaction. All throughout history and across all cultures, dance has been performed for rituals, ceremonies, celebrations, and entertainment. One way of experiencing a culture is to learn about its dance. Today’s post explores the most popular dance styles in different countries around the world. Of course, no country can be reduced to any one dance style. There are multiple popular dance styles within every country, and future posts will delve into more of these styles. For the purposes of this post, however, we will be focusing on just one dance style per country.

Blog125_Dance_CoupleDance-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldTravel might be on hold for many of us right now, but there’s nothing stopping us from turning up the music (or not) and moving our bodies. Dance offers us insight into the customs, music, history, and values of a culture. In addition, research shows that dancing can reverse signs of aging in the brain. Dancing is also known to boost physical, mental, and emotional health. Whether you’re by yourself or with a group, a professional or a novice, dance is a versatile activity that anyone can enjoy. So let’s get our journey started and dance our way around the world!

Blog125_Dance_DancingByWater-300x199 Dance Your Way Around the WorldUnited States – Jazz: Jazz dance first came about in the United States in the early 20th century. It has its roots in African American culture and became popular in the swing era (the 1930s and 40s) alongside jazz music in New Orleans. In jazz, dancers often isolate a specific part of their body or make a “C” shape with their core. The latter is known as contraction. They keep a low center of gravity and often keep their knees bent. Syncopation, or accenting an offbeat note in the music, is another feature of jazz, which keeps the audience surprised.

Blog125_Dance_Salsa-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldCuba – Salsa: Originating in Cuba, salsa quickly spread to the rest of the Caribbean. It focuses primarily on hip movements but also includes some arm and shoulder movements. The music for salsa is notable for brass, drums, and piano. Traditionally it is a partner dance with one partner leading and the other following. It is danced on a 4/4 beat. Salsa takes some of its movements from the cha-cha-cha, mambo, and Cuban son.

Blog125_Dance_Samba-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldBrazil – Samba: Samba is an integral part of Brazilian culture and is most often associated with the famous Carnival festival. Having African roots, samba was brought to Brazil during the Portuguese colonization. It is an upbeat dance that is danced in a 2/4 rhythm, and the music is usually marked by guitars, tambourines, and drums. And of course, we must not forget the colorful, flamboyant costumes and headdresses, which are key to the samba experience.

Blog125_Dance_Tango-300x136 Dance Your Way Around the WorldArgentina – Tango: Tango is a romantic and sensual ballroom dance that originated along the River Plate—the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay—in the 1880s. Originally, tango was only danced by women. It has since become a partner dance, and international tango competitions are now held annually all over the world.

Ireland – Irish Stepdance: Irish stepdance originated in the mid 1800s. It is characterized by a stiff upper body and quick and precise foot movements. The dance can be performed solo or in groups, and while both males and females can perform it, performers are predominantly female. Irish stepdance competitions have become an international phenomenon. Dancers generally wear colorful patterned dresses and calf-length white socks (known as poodle socks). Dancers also typically curl their hair before a performance.

Blog125_Dance_Bagpipe-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldScotland – Highland Dancing: Highland dancing is recognized as a sport by the Sport Council of Scotland. It involves dancing on the balls of the feet along with upper body, arm, and hand movements. The dance originated as a competitive solo dance and combines elements of Gaelic folk dance, ballet, and other dance styles. The accompanying music is traditional bagpipe music.

Blog125_Dance_Flamenco-200x300 Dance Your Way Around the WorldSpain – Flamenco: Flamenco is an Andalusian dance style associated with the Romani people of Spain. Performed to the beat of a guitar, it is also accompanied by singing. The dance involves strong arm movements, finger snapping, and hand clapping and is famous for its vivid, flowing dresses. Flamenco has been awarded UNESCO recognition, and is interestingly most popular in the United States and Japan. In fact, Japan now has more flamenco schools than Spain!

Czech Republic – Polka: Polka originated in the Czech Republic in the early to mid 19th century. One theory posits that the word “polka” comes from the Czech word for “half,” referring to the half tempo and half jump of the dance. According to another theory, the name comes from the Czech word for “field.” Yet another theory claims that it comes for the Czech word for “Polish woman.” Etymology aside, it is almost always danced in a 2/4 time signature, and instruments typically include drums, tuba, semi-acoustic guitar, zither, accordion, trumpet, and clarinet.

Blog125_Dance_Waltz-258x300 Dance Your Way Around the WorldAustria – Waltz: The waltz is a traditional ballroom and folk dance. In the 1700s, it was originally a peasants’ dance, but eventually gained acceptance and popularity in high society. In its early days, the waltz was considered controversial because it allowed partners to be closer than arm’s length away from each other and allowed them to touch. The dance starts off slow and eventually speeds up to triple time. The waltz is considered the inspiration behind many other ballroom dances.

Greece – Sirtaki: Sirtaki is a recent Greek folk dance. It entails a mixture of slow and fast rhythms of the more traditional hasapiko dance. It also incorporates aspects of syrtos for the slower parts and pidkihtós for the faster parts. Traditionally, it is performed in a line, though it can also be performed in a circle, with dancers’ hands on their neighbors’ shoulders. It starts off with a 4/4 meter with slower, smoother actions and then increases to a 2/4 signature with faster and more vivid movements, including hops and leaps.

Ukraine – Hopak: Hopak dates back to the 16th century. The modern name comes from the Ukrainian word for “jump.” Originally, the dance was performed by military men as a victory dance representing battles with leaping movements. Today, the dance is performed by men and women alike and involves squatting and split-leaping. The dance is performed in a close circle and is based on improvisation, and traditional attire is often worn.

Blog125_Dance_Bellydancing-100x300 Dance Your Way Around the WorldEgypt – Raqs Sharqi: Raqs sharqi is the classical Egyptian style of belly dance that developed in the first half of the 20th century. It combines traditional elements of folk dances with Western influences from marching bands, ballet, and Latin ballroom dances. It is common to wear modest attire, such as a long, figure-hugging lycra one-piece gown, as it has been illegal in Egypt to display excessive skin or an exposed midriff since the 1950s. Traditionally, dancers would not wear shoes, but today, they might wear shoes or even high heels while dancing.

South Africa – Gumboot: Gumboot traces its origins to the days of the dark gold mine tunnels of South Africa. Miners were not allowed to talk, so the tapping of the gumboots (wellington boots), decorated with bells, was a form of communication. It’s a polyrhythmic dance involving the whole body, though stepping remains a prominent feature of the dance.

Blog125_Dance_Bhangra-300x163 Dance Your Way Around the WorldIndia – Bhangra: Bhangra is a lively and colorful dance whose roots are in the state of Punjab in Northern India. Originally, the dance was a celebration of the harvest. It is characterized by kicks, jumps, and bouncing shoulders. Bhangra music is typically loud and upbeat and includes the dhol (Indian drum). Practicing even basic bhangra steps will give you quite the workout.

Blog125_Dance_DragonDance-300x169 Dance Your Way Around the WorldChina – Dragon Dance: The dragon dance is performed during celebratory festivals, such as weddings and Chinese New Year. It originated among Chinese farmers during the Han Dynasty (180-230 AD) to ward off evil spirits and bad luck and bring about prosperity and good fortune. In the dragon dance, a team of typically nine dancers carries poles to hold up a representation of a Chinese dragon and move it in a curvy, wave-like motion. The accompanying music usually includes Chinese drums, cymbals, and gongs.

Malaysia – Zapin: Zapin was originally exclusively a religious dance performed only by males. It has since become a more inclusive form of entertainment danced by both males and females. It is believed to have been introduced to Malaysia by Arab and Muslim missionaries in the 14th century. It is typically danced in pairs, and accompanying music entails gambus, bongos, drums, and an accordion.

Blog125_Dance_Ramayana-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldIndonesia – Kecak: Kecak is a dramatic form of dance that developed in Indonesia in the 1930s. Also known as the Ramayana monkey chant, it is based on the story of the Ramayana and is typically performed in temples and villages across Bali. Traditionally the dance was performed by men, with the first women’s kecak group appearing in 2006. A group of around 150 performers wears checked cloths around their waists and chants “chak” while moving their arms and hands. The dance represents depict a battle in the Ramayana in which a group of monkey-like people helps Prince Rama fight against the evil King Ravana. Kecak has its roots in sanghyang, a trance-inducing exorcism dance.

Blog125_Dance_Tinikling-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldPhilippines – Tinikling: Tinikling is a traditional Philippine folk dance that originated during the Spanish colonial era. It involves two people beating, tapping, and sliding bamboo poles against each other on the ground with dancers stepping over and in between the poles. The musical accompaniment is usually rondalla music—a serenade played by an ensemble of stringed instruments that came from medieval Spain. Tinikling is actually used today as a physical education activity in schools in the United States.

Blog125_Dance_Kabuki-300x199 Dance Your Way Around the WorldJapan – Kabuki: Kabuki is a traditional Japanese dance drama that originated in Kyoto in the 1600s. It is UNESCO recognized. When it first emerged, kabuki was only performed by women, but is now performed by both men and women. Stage design is an important element of kabuki, as is the elaborate Kumadori, or makeup.

Blog125_Dance_Haka-300x175 Dance Your Way Around the WorldNew Zealand – Haka: Haka is a traditional ceremonial Maori dance. This ancient war dance was performed on the battlefield and when tribes came together peacefully. The dance represents pride, strength, and unity. During the dance, performers stick out their tongues, stomp their feet, and slap their bodies to loud chanting that tells the story of the tribe’s ancestors and history. Haka is performed at celebratory occasions. In addition, the New Zealand national rugby team, the All Blacks, performs Haka before matches, and they use it on the field as a form of intimidation.

Blog125_Dance_Breakdace-300x200 Dance Your Way Around the WorldWhat’s your favorite dance? If you’d like to learn or teach any of these dances, you can do it on Konversai—your one-stop shop for any and all personal human knowledge, no matter how seemingly commonplace or obscure. The global online platform brings together knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through live video conversations. The only limit is your imagination. Knowledge providers can charge as much as they want for their sessions, knowledge seekers can enjoy personalized sessions from an actual human being on exactly what they’re looking to learn, and sessions take place at times that are mutually convenient for all parties involved. All users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. Providers do not have to be “experts.” Whatever level of knowledge, skill, or experience you have has value and may be exactly what someone is looking to learn. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that enrich and improve people’s lives. Get in on the fun by joining Konversai today!

 

By Pavita Singh

 

Sources:

  1. Abilock, Genni. Ten Dances Around the World. StarQuest.
  2. Ambrosino, Brandon. (2014). The dance styles of So You Think You Can Dance, explained. Vox.
  3. Johnson, Alicia. (2020). 5 dances from around the world to try at home. Lonely Planet.
  4. Pettitts Travel. (2018). Signature Moves: Dance Styles from Around the World.
  5. Sen Nag, Oshimaya. (2017). Famous Dance Forms From Around The World. World Atlas.
  6. Trvl Channel. 14 Ways to Dance Around the World.
  7. Wikipedia
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