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Folk Dances Bring Us Together

What's a folk dance? We're so glad you asked! Folk dances are group dances that express everyday life. As artist and educator Rosa Guerrero writes in The Dance Experience, “All of them [folk dances] reflect the essence of the people and their way of life. There are dances about birth, death, hunting, fishing, marriage, fertility, coming of age, war, religion, nature, the universe, and astronomy.” They are dances that create unity and bring groups of people together.

The German musicologist Felix Hoerburger argued that folk dance can be broken into categories of first and second existence folk. First existence may be acquired in community, performed anywhere, and have no separation between the performer and the audience (it might look something like this).

This is the Balkan band Zlatne Uste giving a dance lesson at Golden Fest in New York City. The demonstration is highly participatory with no division between dancers and audience.

Another example is this video of dancing at a wedding.

Second existence folk may be taught in a formalized school environment, performed in theaters or other official venues, require specialization, and enforce a separation between performer and audience. (It might look something like this).

This is a Balkan Dance troupe Bulgari performing at the Balkanicus Institute for Balkan Art, Culture and History in Roseville Lutheran Church in Roseville, MN.

Here the performers are wearing "traditional" costumes and performing for an audience. That said, they are amateurs and some of the dances are staged in the round as well as open to the audience.

In this second existence example of Balkan folk dance, the contrast is especially clear as the choreography is precise and challenging, and the dance is staged for a proscenium environment.

At Folk Dance Mixtape we are especially interested in digital examples of first existence folk dance. Experiences that bring non-experts together to dance in community and connection.

* RosaGuerrero, “Folk Dance: Father Music, Mother Dance,” in The Dance Experience: Readings in Dance Appreciation, ed. , Myron Howard Nadel and Constance Nadel (2003), 32 **Hoerburger in <<<REFO:JART>>>TheresaBuckland, “Definitions of Folk Dance: Some Explorations,”Folk Music Journal 4, no. 4 (1983): 325<<<REFC>>>.

***For discussions of the term folk dance and its uses and limitations, see Buckland,“Definitions of Folk Dance”; AndriyNahachewsky, “On The Concept of, ‘Second Existence Folk Dance,’”Yearbook for Traditional Music 33 (2001): 17–28; and LisaDoolittle, PennyFarfan, AnnFlynn, and M. J.Thompson, “Introduction ‘Folk’ as Keyword Perspectives from Dance,”Discourses in Dance 5, no. 2 (2013): 3–13


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