Last Updated on April 25, 2023 by AIFS Abroad
Throughout history, people around the world have used dances to celebrate, mourn and connect with one another. Each culture has developed its own unique dance style that reflects its history, values, and spirit. Whether you’re a seasoned dancer or a curious beginner, exploring the world of dance is a wonderful way to broaden your horizons and connect with other cultures.
Let’s get you warmed up with these popular dances from all over the world:
1. The Tango
Origin: Argentina 🇦🇷
The tango is one of the most beloved dances in the world. The sensual and dramatic dance originated in the 19th century along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. There are many different styles of tango that developed in Argentina and other locations around the world. The styles are mostly danced with partners in an open or closed embrace.
2. The Waltz
Origin: Austria 🇦🇹
Originally a peasant dance, the waltz originated in Austria during the 18th century. It quickly gained popularity with the upper-class social circles of Vienna. The dance consists of three beats per measure, strongly emphasizing the first beat. It’s considered a turning dance, with dance partners gracefully gliding across the room. In fact, the dance’s name comes from the German word walzer, meaning to roll or revolve. The waltz was considered controversial at first due to its close embrace and partners dancing face-to-face. However, it eventually became a treasured dance style all over Europe and around the world.
Origin: Germany 🇩🇪
The Schuhplattler, a traditional form of folk dance, is widely enjoyed in the Bavaria and Tyrol regions of Germany, Austria and parts of Northern Italy. The dance involves the performers rhythmically stomping, clapping, and striking the soles of their shoes, thighs, and knees with their palms facing downwards. The Schuhplattler has a very long history – it’s believed that the dance originated in the Neolithic Era, around 3000 BC.
Origin: Italy 🇮🇹
The tarantella is a traditional folk dance that originated in Southern Italy. The dance is known for its fast tempo, with dancers rapidly moving their feet and spinning in circles. Legend has it that the dance was originally performed to cure the bite of the tarantula spider. It was believed that by dancing the tarantella, the victim could sweat out the venom and be healed. Today, the tarantella is a symbol of Italian culture and is performed at festivals and celebrations.
5. The Can-Can
Origin: France 🇫🇷
The can-can is known for its lively, upbeat music and high-kicking choreography. Its origins can be traced back to the quadrille, a popular dance in 18th-century France. Originally, the can-can was a dance with partners. The dance then evolved into an individual dance featuring acrobatics and was a major highlight of French cabarets. Today, it’s usually characterized by a chorus line of dancers wearing petticoats and long, frilly skirts.
Origin: South Africa 🇿🇦
The Indlamu is a traditional Zulu dance that originated in South Africa. Although it was once considered a war dance, today the dance is used to celebrate occasions like childbirth, marriage and inaugurations. Dancers lift one foot above their heads, bringing their foot down sharply on the downbeat. The dance requires precise timing and coordination, with dancers (traditionally, men) mirroring each other’s moves.
7. The Polka
Origin: Bohemia (now Czech Republic 🇨🇿)
The polka is a dance that originated in Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) in the 19th century. The dance is characterized by three quick steps and a hop and is danced to music in 2/4 time. The polka most likely evolved as a quicker form of the waltz, and its popularity quickly spread throughout Europe and the Americas.
That wraps up our whirlwind tour of some of the world’s most popular dances…
From traditional folk dances to the latest TikTok trend, the world of dance is endlessly fascinating and full of surprises. And we’ve barely scratched the surface! If you’re really hungry to learn more about other cultures, studying abroad could be the perfect opportunity for you. Not only can you try out new dance moves – you’ll also broaden your horizons and gain valuable skills.