Importance of Folk Dance in Culture

by Emily Bennett, Demand Media

    Folk dance is a form of dance created to differentiate the lower class from the upper, and reflects the traditional life of the people of a certain region or culture. Some examples of folk dances include square dancing, clogging, Indian ceremonial dances, Hghland dancing and Irish jigs. The steps of these dances are passed down through generations, and mostly appear during cultural and festive celebrations.

    Folk Dance for Celebrations

    During cultural fairs, folk dances are often performed to liven up the celebration. For example, during St. Patrick's Day celebrations, Irish dancers will perform classic folk dances. These dances are called quadrilles, and are danced by four couples arranged in a square. Another Irish dance is called a ceili, which is danced in varied formations involving two to 16 people. An American folk dance is the square dance, which involves eight dancers arranged in squares. The dance involves various patterns of passing and is arranged in sets. Folk dances liven up cultural celebrations and provide a look into the past of specific groups of people.

    Folk Dance for Competitions

    Folk dances are also performed for competitions, and are judged by a panel of expert judges. The criteria judged in these competitions includes precision of dance steps, adherence to time limits, harmony of the group, and historical accuracy of costumes. Dance companies practice for years to perfect their dances. The winning dance group receives an award of a trophy, money, or the chance to travel to an even larger folk dance competition.

    Folk Dance for Children

    Folk dance programs for children provide fun ways to learn about different cultures. Not only do these programs get children on their feet and exercising, they also help develop children's kinesthetic awareness. These programs also expose children to other cultures and promote racial and cultural tolerance, which is vital to instill in young minds. Since American children are becoming more and more at risk of obesity, dance programs promote exercise and an enjoyment of physical activity.

    Folk Dance Historical Significance

    Folk dances that have been passed down through generations allow historians to see a living, moving example of how people's ancestors danced and moved with each other. Unlike Elizabethan and Restoration dance, which was created for the upper class, the more rural English dances provide a glance into their daily lives. Elizabethan dances are formal, hardly ever allowing dance partners to touch each other. English folk dances sometimes involve costumes, sexual innuendos, and rhythmic footwork. In the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance, the dancers don reindeer antlers and dance around each other. The folk dances were frivolous and allowed men and women to flirt and touch each other in a public setting. These dances often led to courtship and marriage.

    About the Author

    Emily Bennett has been acting and publishing articles since 1999. She specializes in public speaking, accents, poetry, and theatre. Her work has been published online at Notes on the Road and The "RADA Literary Magazine." She holds a B.A. in acting from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and has coached actors and professionals throughout the U.S. and England.

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