What is Folk Dance?
Folklore refers to beliefs, practices and customs that are traditional of a people or culture. This includes stories, crafts, music and dances, for example. Dance, on the other hand, is the action of dancing, that is, the execution of movement to the rhythm of the music.
These two definitions allow us to approach the concept of folk dance, which are the typical and traditional dances of a culture. Folk dance is usually performed by tradition (it is not an innovative art) and can be danced by any man and woman (it is not exclusivity of professional dancers, although there may be professional folk dance groups).
In addition to all this it is important to establish two more characteristics that define what is folk dance. On the one hand we come across the fact that, as a rule, that is not danced by the aristocracy but by the people of the plain people and it is also necessary to emphasize that this type of dance has in many cases given rise to new modern dances.
This type of dance is especially performed during social events such as parties and commemorations. The younger ones learn by watching the elders dance, who are in charge of teaching the secrets of each dance to perpetuate tradition.
Polka, a type of dance that emerged in the Bohemian region during the first half of the 19th century, is an example of European folk dance. It is characterized by the fast tempo, in 2/4 beats that demands fast movements and agility.
In the case of Spain we find different types of folk dance. So, for example, one of them is the jack. Bandurrias and guitars are fundamentally the musical instruments that are used to perform this type of piece that then the dancers dance dressed in the typical regional costumes of each autonomous community and at the same time that they themselves play Castanets.
In the same way, we cannot overlook the fact that one of the most important Spanish folk dances is flamenco dance. In the eighteenth century, and specifically in Andalusia, it was where flamenco in general, both music and dance, which at the moment is listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, emerged.
Among the many flamenco dancers it is worth highlighting great figures of the likes of Sara Baras, Joaquín Cortés, Antonio Gades, Carmen Amaya, La Argentinita or La Chunga. They and many others are the ones who have carried this folk dance around the world, making it an art of great recognition and much admired by the entire geography of the planet.
Another folk dance that has transcended the world is belly dance, which combines elements from the Middle East and North Africa, although it has been updated with Western influences.
In Argentina and part of Bolivia, a very popular folk dance is the chacarera, whose music is performed with guitar, violin and bass drum. The rhythmic basis of the chacarera is shared by other folk dances, such as the cat (which is also danced in Uruguay).