Basic Folk Dance Steps

By Marjorie Gilbert

Folk dancing is a communal dance which people perform at social functions such as weddings, celebrations, or even specific folk dance events. Every nationality has their own folk dances. To summarize, the characteristic they all share is that there are a certain number of steps or figures that are repeated over and over in time to the music where one may dance with just one partner or many. Some of the folk dances share common basic folk dance steps, which allows you to participate in these dances, no matter where you are in the world.

Slide Steps or Chassé

This step is a common one in folk dances. It can be a traveling step, meaning that the dancers can actually use it to move from point A to point B or traveling around in a circle. To do a slide step or chassé, step to the side with your right foot and bring your left foot to meet your right. Step right to the side again and bring your left foot to meet your right. You can do this starting with your left foot and bringing your right foot to meet your left. You can alternate from one side to the other, or perform the steps first in one direction (traveling to the left), and then in the other (traveling to the right).

Hopping Steps

Hopping steps require the dancer's feet to leave the ground. You can hop on one foot and then the next, or hop twice on one foot and twice on the other. Hopping can be also combined with other folk dance steps.

A Polka

A polka is a folk dance performed in 2/4 time that sounds like this: "and 1, 2, 3, and 1, 2, 3, and 1, 2, 3" where the "and" is quicker than the rest of the beats. To polka, hop with the left foot, step with the right foot, bring the left foot beside the right foot, step with the right and hop with the right foot. Step with the left foot, bring the right foot to the left foot, step with the left foot and hop with the left foot, then continue by stepping with the right foot. You can add turns to the polka steps by turning in a clockwise direction after each hop.

Alternating Steps and Hops

Alternating steps and hops is common in folk dancing. Step with the left foot and hop with the left, then step with the right foot and hop with the right.

The Schottishe

The Schottishe is another set of steps that are common in folk dancing. It is a more complicated alternation of steps and hops. Step with the left foot, step with the right, then step with the left foot and hop with the left. Step with the right foot and step with the left, then step with the right foot and hop with the right.

About the Author

Marjorie Gilbert is a freelance writer and published author. An avid researcher, Gilbert has created an Empire gown (circa 1795 to 1805) from scratch, including drafting the gown's patterns by hand.