folk dance

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folk dance,

primitive, tribal, or ethnic form of the dancedance
[Old High Ger. danson=to drag, stretch], the art of precise, expressive, and graceful human movement, traditionally, but not necessarily, performed in accord with musical accompaniment. Dancing developed as a natural expression of united feeling and action.
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, sometimes the survival of some ancient ceremony or festival. The term is used also to include characteristic national dances, country dances, and figure dances in costume to folk tunes. Many children's games, such as "London Bridge" and "The Farmer in the Dell," are traditional folk dances. More elaborate examples are the Spanish fandangofandango
, ancient Spanish dance, probably of Moorish origin, that came into Europe in the 17th cent. It is in triple time and is danced by a single couple to the accompaniment of castanets, guitar, and songs sung by the dancers.
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, the Bohemian polkapolka,
ballroom dance for couples in 2/4 time. Originated by Bohemian peasants about 1830 from steps of the schottische and other dances, the polka by 1835 reached the drawing rooms of Prague, from which it spread to the capitals of Europe.
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, the Hungarian czardas, the Irish jigjig,
dance of English origin that is performed also in Ireland and Scotland. It is usually a lively dance, performed by one or more persons, with quick and irregular steps. When the jig was introduced to the United States, it was often danced in minstrel shows.
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, the Scottish Highland flingHighland fling,
national dance of Highland Scotland. Composed in the duple rhythm of the strathspey, a variety of reel, it is characterized by the Scotch snap (a succession of sixteenth notes alternating with dotted eighths). The "fling" emphasizes a kicking gesture.
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, the Hawaiian hula, and the English morris dancemorris dance
or morrice dance,
rustic dance of the north of England that had its origin in country festivals, such as those of May Day and Whitsunday. Reference to it in English literature is made as early as the 15th cent.
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, sword dance, and Maypole dance. American barn dances, such as the Virginia reel, are largely derived from European sources. Early in the 20th cent. Cecil James SharpSharp, Cecil James,
1859–1924, English musician, best known for his researches in English folk music. In 1911 he founded the English Folk Dance Society. In the United States he collected (1914–18) folk songs in the Appalachian Mts.
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, founder of the English Folk Dance Society, made a notable collection of English folk songs and dances. The American Folk Dance Society has done much to preserve the knowledge of old American country dances, and a similar interest has developed in other countries. A popular form of recreation, folk dancing is often taught in schools.


See M. D. Lidster and D. H. Tamburini, Folk Dance Progressions (1965, repr. 1978); A. S. Duggan et al., Folk Dance Library (5 vol., 1948, repr. 1980).

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folk dance

1. any of various traditional rustic dances often originating from festivals or rituals
2. a piece of music composed for such a dance
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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