Definition of folk dance noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary


folk dance

BrE BrE//ˈfəʊk dɑːns//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈfoʊk dæns//
[countable, uncountable]
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a traditional dance of a particular area or country; a piece of music for such a dance Wordfinderballet, ballroom, band, choreograph, dance, floor, folk dance, music, partner, step Culturefolk dancingFolk dances are traditional dances in which everyone can take part. They are danced to folk tunes and have sequences of steps that are repeated several times. Dances are performed by pairs of dancers often arranged in sets (= groups of six or eight people). Dancers move up and down the set and change partners. The dancing is often very fast. A caller usually calls the steps during the dance. In England folk dances are now danced mainly by people who belong to a country dancing club, or at barn dances held in a village hall.Many English villages have morris dancing teams. Morris dancing is usually performed on village greens or outside country pubs on May Day and throughout the summer. The dancers dress in white and wear sets of small bells at the knee. Dances consist of a series of jumps and hops (= jumps on one leg). As they dance the dancers often wave handkerchiefs in the air. In some dances they carry a stick which they strike against that of their partner. Themes of the dances include death and rebirth (= new life) in nature. In some dances mythological characters like the Green Man appear. Sometimes dancers paint their faces black, perhaps reflecting the possible origin of Morris dancing in Moorish dance. The music is provided by a fiddle (= violin) or accordion (= an instrument which is played by pressing keys and buttons, and pulled apart and squeezed together to make different sounds).Another variety of English folk dance, also performed on May Day, is maypole dancing. Children often take part. Each dancer holds the end of a long ribbon (= narrow strip of cloth), which is attached to the top of a brightly painted maypole. The ribbons are woven round the maypole as the dancers dance round each other. Some towns have their own folk dance: for example, the Furry Dance, or Floral Dance, is danced through the streets of Helston in Cornwall.Scottish dances are usually danced to the music of the bagpipes or a fiddle at a ceilidh (= an evening of dancing, music and, formerly, storytelling). Traditionally they are performed in Scottish national dress, with men wearing kilts (= skirts with folds that reach to the knees) and women in plain dresses. Some people go to Scottish dancing classes as a hobby. The best-known Scottish dance is the Highland fling, which is usually performed by one man alone. The sword dance is performed by one or two dancers over two crossed swords. Popular dances for groups of people are the Gay Gordons and the Eightsome Reel.Ireland has a similar ceilidh tradition. In Irish dancing the dancers do not move the upper part of their body. In recent years there has been greater interest in Irish folk dancing resulting from the success of Riverdance stage show in 1994. In Irish clog dancing, the dancers wear clogs (= heavy wooden shoes) with which they strike the floor.Line dancing, which comes from the US, is also popular in Britain. In the US itself there are folk dances from many different countries, brought by people when they settled there. But the best-known kind of folk dancing is square dancing, which has its origins in various dances from Britain. Square dancing was an important part of social life in the days when people were moving west. On Saturday evenings people would gather in a barn for a dance. As in English country dancing there was a caller, and the dancers danced to the music of a fiddle. Most square dances start and finish with couples standing in a square, but some, like the Virginia Reel, involve people standing in two lines. American children still learn square dancing, but very few adults now do it.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: folk dance