International Dance Glossary
International Dance Glossary &Dance Forms
Adewu - Togolese dance of the hunters.
Ahwash - The term given by the Chleuh people of Morocco to many collective dances that are sung or played with a flute and accompanied by drums
Ait atta - A Moroccan harvest dance performed by men and women.
Ait Bodar - A Moroccan warrior dance performed only by men. They link arms as if welded to each other and chant their song during a continuous backwards and forward movement. The dance appears to symbolize the indivisible unity that should link the warrior of the tribe in the face of the enemy.
Ait Bouguemaz - See Ait Bugemaz
Ait Bugemaz - A Moroccan dance. The central figure wears a costume different from the rest of the group. The leader has a pointed bonnet covered with a strip of white muslin and plays a double flute. He is the only professional in the group and produces a nasal buzzing with his instrument that has a striking effect while the men and women of the village turn in a circle. The dance is at times light, composed of slides and little steps, or more dynamic when the performers stamp hard on the ground. It is an abstract dance by the mountain folk but it has the virility also of warrior dances. Poems are recited.
Ajsino oro - Albanian dance for men and women, in separate circles.
Alcatraz - a flirtatious and erotic dance from Peru. It's a
couple's dance. Traditionally, the woman has a piece of tissue between her legs while the man dances with a lit candle trying to light the tissue. If the man can light the woman's fire, that means that she is his.
Alegrías - A joyful Flamenco dance, with 12 beats, from the province of Cádiz. It is the result of the Aragonese jota being transformed to a flamenco style.
An dro - Breton circle dance.
Areíto - Ceremonial dance of the taínos Indians.
Ariñ ariñ. Ancient circle dance from Bilbao, in Spain’s Basque Country. Men and women who participate in pilgrimages dance it in couples.
Atsina - Togolese warlike dance and voodoo whose variety and beauty are extremely
Awalim - female Egyptian performers who danced, sung, played musical instruments and recited poetry
Bailaor - male Flamenco dancer
Bailaora - female Flamenco dancer
Baile - 1. General Spanish term for dance. 2. Flamenco dance
Bailecito - typical festive Bolivian handkerchief dance.
Baksimba - a royal dance of the Baganda people from Uganda.
Ballet - A theatrical dance form with a story, sets, and music.
Bambuca - The national dance of Colombia, South America. It is characterized by cross accents in the music. It was formerly danced only by the natives but became a ballroom dance to be added to the gentle pasillo, a favorite with Colombian society.
Bansango - a Mandinka (West African) dance rhythm for young women
Basese - popular Malagasy dance rhythm from Diego Suárez, in the north-east.
Barn dances - Barn dances are the product of the colonial United States of America. Early Americans recreated them from England's country dances. They were performed in halls and barns as get-togethers among North America's first social gatherings.
Bataclán - Argentine dance derived from the Parisian Ba-Ta-clan.
Bataclana - cabaret dancer (Argentina)
Batuque - Afro-Brazilian jam sessions. In the Batuque the dancers form a circle around one performer. This solo dancer chooses his successor for the exhibition spot while shouting the word "sama."
Belly dance - see raks sharki -.
Bhangra - this dance comes from the region of Punjab (now divided between Pakistan and India). Bhangra is an ancient folk dance of men that is still popular in modern times. It is the dance of the Punjab farmer, who revels in this joyous dance form after spending the day in the field. The heart of Bhangra is the dhol, a large double-sided drum present any time bhangra is being performed. For information about the bhangra musical style, click here.
Bharata Natyam - one of the most graceful classical dance forms of India. It is believed to be over 2000 years old. For more information, go to:
Bloco - A group of Brazilian people who parade together in samba costumes to samba music. They can include instrument or not. They are many times the progenitors of samba schools and can be quite large in size. Normally, the block follows a costume theme.
Bolero - 1. Spanish dance in 3/4 time. 2. Cuban dance derived from the Spanish bolero, initially into 2/4 time then eventually into 4/4. The music is frequently arranged with Spanish vocals and a subtle percussion effect, usually implemented with conga or bongos.
Bolero viejo o parado - A style derived from the seguidilla. The Valldemosa (Majorca, Spain) bolero is the most popular in the Balearic Islands. The name parado (stopped) comes from the abrupt end of the dance. Violins, guitars, castanets and triangle normally accompany it.
Bomba - Afro-Puerto Rican dance and songs traditionally associated with plantation workers on Puerto Rico. A large wooden drum covered with goatskin called the ‘bomba’, which accompanied this music, inspired the name. The songs are improvised and have call and response style.
Braceos - arm movements made by the Flamenco dancers.
Brokel Dantza - Basque combat dance
Bulerías - A festive type of Gypsy Flamenco song and dance that originated in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. It's usually danced by a whole group and provides enormous scope for improvisation on the part of dancers, singers and guitarists. It is wild, frenzied and lively, but nevertheless contains the germ of sorrow that is almost always present in flamenco.
Buyoo - Classical Japanese Dance.
CapoeiraBrazilian martial arts/dance style developed by the slaves to teach each other how to defend themselves. The music is as unique as the instruments themselves.
Ceilidh - communal Celtic dances with a live band
Chacarrá - Tarifa fandango dance from southern Spain. Two women and one man perform the dance.
Cha-cha-chá - A popular rhythmic dance style derived from the mambo, created in Cuba played at first by the Cuban charanga bands. The peculiar scraping and shuffling sounds produced the imitative sound of Cha Cha Cha.
Charkula - Every aspect of the culture of the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh is associated with Lord Krishna, hence how was it possible for a dance form or a song, a story or a legend of Braj to remain untouched with the Krishna legend ! So it happened with the Charkula dance as well -- a folk dance of the Braj area, which has also found its origin in the Krishna legend.
It is believed that the Charkula dance celebrates the happy victory over Indra by Krishna and the cowherd community
of Braj. This dance, therefore, became a symbol of happiness as well as joyful rapture. Krishna raised the mount Gobardhan and as if to re-enact the Gobardhan Leela the dancing damsel of Braj raises the 60 Kilo Charkula on her head while performing the Charkula dance. Wearing long skirts reaching the toes and a blouse, the dancing damsel covers her body and face with the odhani and with its lighted lamps on her head and lighted lamps in both the hands, she dances, synchronizing her steps with the beat of the drum. Her movements are limited because of the heavy load on her head. She cannot bend her body, nor can she move her neck. In spite of these limitations the slim, sturdy and courageous dancer dances, gliding, bending, pirouetting to the tune of the song. The climax is reached
when enraptured by the collective merriment of the occasion, the singers also starts dancing and, with the swift beat of music and movement, the onlookers find themselves carried away by the rejoicings.
Chengi - Turkish female dancer
Chocolate, el - Chilean dance from the Quellón region that combines Spanish music and dance forms with aboriginal Chilean music and dance.
Ciranda - Brazilian dance inspired by sea waves. Performed by hundreds of people under a full moon sat the beaches in Recife. Some participants fall into a trance.
Clogging - Welsh step dancing. It is the only type of Welsh dance, which has continued, in an unbroken tradition. During the 18th and 19th centuries the puritanical revivals in Wales almost wiped out many forms of folk culture, and especially traditional dance. However the popularity of clogging's combination of infectious rhythms with dynamic style kept this traditional alive and it continues to thrive and evolve. The main difference between Welsh clogging and other Celtic and American styles of solo percussive dance, is that Welsh dancers wear wooden clogs, and not merely hard shoes. The sole and heel of a Welsh clog are carved from one piece of wood, to form a shaped "platform"under the whole foot, onto which the leather upper is fixed, giving it the appearance of a normal shoe. However the sole does not bend, creating different movements for the feet, and different possibilities for percussive additions to the music. Like American clogging, the Welsh include a variety of energetic "feats"or "tricks", and each clogger is eager to show off his own dexterity and inventiveness. Welsh clogging commonly includes steps such as a Coassack-style kicking squat (called the "Toby"), or high jumping, jumping over a bezum broom, or even trying to snuff out a lighted candle with his feet during the dance.
Compas - Haitian dance music
Conga - An Afro-Cuban dance, now popular in many Spanish speaking countries, characterized by hard beats in 2/4 time. The Conga is performed in a formation known as the Conga chain. The steps are simple, one, two, three, and kick at which time the partners move away from each other. Conga -
Country dance - English folk dances as opposed to the court dances of bygone times. During the colonial days of America these country dances became the present day square dance.
Country western two-step - The two-step originated in the United states in the 1800's by people who arrived from Europe. It was an offspring of the minuet. In the old Western days when women were not allowed to dance with men, men danced together and that is the reason for the hand on the shoulder holding a can of beer and the other hand to the side.
Csárdás - Hungarian couple dance.
Cuadro - Group of flamenco performers, including dancers, singers, and guitarists
Cueca - 1. Bolivian flirting dance. It is slow and sensual. 2. Chilean dance written in 6/8 time with the accompaniment in 3/4 time. Originally it was danced with handkerchiefs only, but during recent years it has enjoyed popularity on the ballroom floor.
Cumbia - Colombian music and dance form, fusion of Andean Indian, African and European musical styles. It consist of short
steps and sensual hip movements that originally was a form of flirting. The
women used to flirt by waving their long skirts and the men demonstrated their
strength by waving their huge machetes in the air. It has become one of the most
popular musical styles in Colombia (together with salsa and champeta) and
Dance ronde - Breton dance tune.
Dantzaris - highly skilled Basque dancers.
Danza Antigua de Hermigua - Ancient warrior dance from the Hermigua region in the Gomera Island (Canary Islands, Spain). Accompanied by drums and chácaras (large castanets).
Danza de Damas y Galanes - Religious dance of ladies and gentlemen from La Coruña (Galicia, Spain). A drum and bagpipe accompany four ladies, eight gentlemen and a lead dancer. The dancers come out of a church backwards and start dancing once they get to the atrium. The dancers mimic reverence and greetings. Danzantes y Pecados - Eucharistic dance of sinners from the town of Camuñas (Toledo, Spain). Some believe it could be the remnant of an ancient pagan dance assimilated by Christianity. The dancers arrive to the Eucharist bringing symbols of the passion of Christ and wearing strange masks. One of the penitents uses a large wooden hammer to pound on a block of wood, creating a beat that accompanies the dancers.Danza del Paloteo y el Cordón a La Virgen de La Piedad - A dance from the La Mancha region of Toledo (Spain). Eight dancers and a young man are needed. The young man dances in the middle of the other eight participants using a whip. The eight dancers use castanets and canes to create the rhythm, accompanied by a drummer and a dulzaina (Spanish double reed instrument). They march through town dancing and running.
Danza del Cordón, de la Carrera y del Paloteo al Cristo de la Viga - A series of dances from the village of Villacañas (Toledo, Spain). It honors Christ of la Viga. On April 27 the eight dancers kneel to a banner representing Christ asking for forgiveness. During several days, the participants run and dance across town. On May 1st they dance playing castanets. A man nails a stick to the ground that holds eight ribbons of different colors. Every dancer holds a ribbon and makes a number of crossings with the other dancers, tying the ribbons until a chord is made. After that, the dancers run, practicing the running dance across town.
Danza de las ánimas (Dance of the souls) - An ancient folk dance Albaladejo in the Spanish region of La Mancha. Seven dancers plus a captain hold swords and cover their heads. While a musician plays a melkody on the tiplillo (a tiny guitar), the dancers weave and unweave a chord out of ribbons tied to a pole.
Danza de los Diablos (Dance of the Devils) - Ancient dance from the town of Huete (Cuenca, Spain). Three groups of men or women carry sticks and chains. The dancers create a percussive sound by pairing with other dancers and hitting their respective sticks and chasing a man representing the devil away.
Danza del Venado, La - Yaqui Indian dance from the state of Sonora (Mexico) known as The Dance of the Deer. The dance honors the deer's endurance of spirit, as depicted through the deer's struggle against pursuing hunters.
Danzón - A European influenced ballroom dance played by the Cuban charangas. It is a descendant of the popular dance music contradanza and danza of the 1800's. Immigrants from Haiti and Lousiana introduced it to Cuba.
Djogbo and Gbekon - two royal dances of the south of Togo with
extraordinary costumes, rich colors and extremely original and very varied
Dhon Dholok Cholom- a drum dance from the Indian state of Manipur where the performers leap and twirl while beating their instruments. It is usually danced in the spring.
Dimba - a Mandinka dance rhythm played for older women.
Djokoto - a Togolese royal dance of the south.
Eisa-daiko - Okinawan style of Bon dancing/drumming. Known for its spirited drumming, often by dancers who carry the drums as they dance.
Escondido - An Argentine dance called Escondido where the female partner hides from the male. .
Fandango - one of the oldest popular dances in Spain. There are fandangos in virtually all the regions, but the most popular ones are those of Almería and Huelva. The dance begins slowly and tenderly, the rhythm marked by the clack of castanets, snapping of fingers, and stomping of feet. The speed gradually increases to a whirl of exhilaration. There is a sudden pause in the music toward the end of each figure when the dancers stand rigid in the attitude caught by the music. They move again only when the music is resumed.
Farruca - A Spanish Gypsy dance for men, in 2/4 time consisting of heel work, fast double turns and falls. It is considered one of the most exciting of all the Flamenco dances.
Farwoudiar - a popular Wolof (Senegal) dance rhythm for women (Senegal).The name refers to a woman who greatly loves her fiancé.
Festejo - a popular festive Afro-Peruvian dance. Originally, it was a competition of men in a circle, confronting each other with a series of fighting rhythms. The men carried cajones in this musical competition reminiscent of Brazilian capoiera.
Today, the festejo movements are extremely sensual and undulating. The body talks, dancing exactly with the rhythm. Every sound is taken by the body, triggering a movement. The dancers follow each strike of the cajón and other instruments.
Fest noz - Breton night dance.
Forró - A form of dance music that is extremely popular in the Manaus region of Brazil. The music is normally accordion driven.
Fuji - Yoruba (Nigeria) dance music.
Gammaldans - Swedish old dance
Gangar - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Gato - Argentine dance performed by two couples. It resembles a very fast Waltz in steady quarter notes.
Gavotte - Breton dance tune.
Ghawazee - Female Egyptian Gypsy dancer
Guajira - A Cuban country dance derived from an Andalusian (Spanish) dance. It is normally played in 3/4 or 6/8 time.
Guaracha - A very lively Cuban song and dance genre of Spanish origin. It is popular in Cuba and Puerto Rico.
Halay –a very popular Turkish square dance. Participants join hands, making a circle. The music and the dance start slowly but gets faster and faster. It is danced with the accompaniment of a drum and shrill pipe. The halay is danced especially on holidays and wedding days. It starts with a folk song, sang by the drummer in general. The origin of the halay is in the west and south of Turkey.
Halling - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Highlife - Dance music from Ghana and Eastern Nigeria, originating from the popular kpanlogo rhythm developed in Ghana in the 1960's.
Hora - Balkan ring dances.
Horo - Balkan ring dances.
Huayñitos - Bolivian dance. Couples make small jumps and choreographed stunts.
Hula - Originally a sacred dance of Hawaii supposedly created by the younger volcano Kala to please his sister Pele. It is a sensual dance performed by women who rock their hips back and forth. In due time its varied interpretation also served to please the visiting sailors which did not please the missionaries who promptly banned it
Jarana - Folk dance of Yucatán, Mexico. The verses of the Jarana are often in the Mayan language. The word Jarana means merry chatter
Jota - Native folk dance Aragon, Spain. Performed usually by one or more couples and consisting of hoppy steps in 3/4 time.
Jota de la vendimia - Wine harvest dance from Ciudad Real, Spain. Guitar, bandurria and percussion accompany the dancers.
Kaka - picturesque Togolese dance of the coastal areas, carried out with pieces
Kankukus - Afro-Brazilian dance.
Kathakali - an ancient dance-drama form from Kerala in south india, which can also be found in Hindu parts of Indonesia.
Kpehouhuon - a Togolese warlike dance of rich colors and great artistic quality.
Lambada - A samba-derived dance from the northeast coast of Brazil. The exciting look of this dance on European television took the continent by storm in the late 1980's.
Landó - a Peruvian dance with its origins from a dance in Angola called "londu"that came with the slaves when they arrived in Brazil from Angola. Even today, the "londo"
exists in Brazil. The Peruvian lando has become so closely associated with Black Peruvian music that it has almost become "the"sound of Black Peru. The lando is
a mix of both Spanish and African rhythms.
Marinera peruana - flirting dance from Peru.
Martinique beguine - Popular ballroom dance of the island of St. Lucia and Martinique. It is characterized by the rocking back and forth of the hips while the woman throws her arms around her partner's neck. His arms loosely clasp her about the waist.
Masseh - Togolese dance mimes of the scenes of hearth.
Maulidi - a dance from Bushehr (Iran), performed around the birthday of the prophet Mohammed (s.a.w.). Dancers sit in a circle and move their upper torsos in rhythm, gradually entering into a state of trance.
Maxixe - A Brazilian dance with head and arm movements.
Mazurka - Polish dance. The couples follow the leader in circular formation around the room.
Meloneras - Spanish dance from Daimiel. They are variation of the seguidillas manchegas and are danced by two or four couples at a slow pace, accompanied by castanets
Mento - The most popular native dance of Jamaica, which resembles a Cuban rumba, played in slow tempo.
Merengue - A spirited dance style from the Dominican Republic that is normally accompanied by a small accordion, a two headed drum called the tambora, and a singer who plays the güiro (scraper).
Milonga - 1. Argentine country dance derived from the Spanish milonga. 2. Spanish dance first originated in Andalusia.
Modinha - Sentimental Brazilian dance directly derived from the Portuguese songs and dances of that name.
Muiñeira - Traditional Galician jig
Muñeira - Same as muiñeira
Muñeres - Traditional jigs from Asturias, Spain.
Odori - General term for Japanese dance.
Pambiche - A slower type of merengue that is easier to dance.
Pasillo colombiano - A Colombian dance that is very similar to the Cuban bolero except that it is danced to a time of 6/8 against 3/4 meter.
Passista - A young female Brazilian solo dancer who is chosen to for her excellent skills in dancing to the samba beat of the bateria (rhythm section). The passistas dance in front of the bateria and they are accompanied by talented male dancers playing their pandeiros (frame drums) and courting the passistas.
Periconas - Chilean dance from the Quellón region that combines Spanish music and dance forms with aboriginal Chilean music and dance.
Plin - Breton dance tune
Polka - Dance from Bohemia (Czech Republic) in 2/4 time.
Polo, El - A popular Venezuelan style where singers improvise and sing verses from well known traditional songs. Accompanied by bandolina, guitar, cuatro, charrasca, maracas and furruco.
pols - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
polska - Swedish dance in triple time.
Polskor - Polska in Swedish. Swedish country dance.
Porro - A tropical Colombian dance. It is similar to the Cuban Rumbas in that it expresses various activities or tells stories set to a very syncopated 2/4 meter.
Pung Cholak - an Indian dance from the state of Manipur. The dancers execute sequences of slow and quick movements of the body while playing the pung (classical barrel drum), with intricate rhythms.
Rainha da Bateria - The "Queen of the Percussion". A very samba dancer that accompanies the "bateria"of a samba school. This person is usually a woman that is also chosen for her physical beauty.
Raks sharki - belly dance or Oriental dance. It’s one of the world’s oldest dance forms. Common throughout the Middle East and North Africa, it is in Egypt where raks sharki has thrived in recent times.
Rasa Lila - a sublime dance from the Indian state of Manipur depicting Lord Krishna with his female devotees who are dressed in ornate and highly stylized costumes. The musical accompaniment is a bamboo flute, vocals and percussion. The most commonly performed version of this dance is done during the spring.
Raspa, La - Mexican dance from Veracruz with a peculiar hopping step.
Reel - a lively Scottish dance. Irish folk dance in 4/4.
Rudl/rull - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Runddans - Swedish round dance
S'a llarga y S'a curta - The two most typical dances from the island of Ibiza, Spain. One stands for long and the other for short, depending on the beat. The woman dances slowly, barely moving while the man dances vigorously trying to prove his manhood and strength. A drummer, a flute player and castanets accompany the dancers.
Sakpate - Togolese dance of the West Coast of Africa.
Salegy - widespread dance of the Sakalave people of Madagascar.
Saltones - traditional Asturian dance tunes.
Samba - A dance and type of music from Brazil of African slave origin.The dance is very difficult as performed by Brazilians in comparison to formal "ballroom" dancing which is highly stylized. Men and women dance samba differently and together yet without touching.
Samba School - A social, cultural, and club group that meets regularly and frequently with the purpose of learning and performing Brazilian samba dance, music, and costumes.
Sambista - A person that performs samba. Commonly refers to a female dancer.
Sema - The Whirling Dervish rite.
Semai - Dance of the Alevis, also know as screaming dervishes.
S'escandalari - A colorful peasant dance from Ibiza, Spain. It celebrates planting and harvesting.
Sevillanas - A very popular colorful and festive Spanish folk dance from Seville consisting of six or even parts known as Coplas. Each Copla is a little dance in itself divided into three parts and consisting of twelve measures of music. Couples dance it at fairs and pilgrimages. In recent years, sevillanas have become popular across Spain. Women usually wear a colorful Gypsy dress while men wear short black jackets or vests. Shishi Mai - Traditional Lion Dance from Japan with Chinese roots. A cape hides the dancer.
Shishi Odori - Japanese Deer Dance. The dancer wears a deer mask and usually plays a drum hung from the waist while dancing.
Sigaoma - a more modern Malagasy salegy dance with South African pop influence.
Sirillas - Chilean dance from the Quellón region that combines Spanish music and dance forms with aboriginal Chilean music and dance.
Sita Harana - a dance from the Indian state of Manipur that depicts stories from the Ramayana.
Skank - to dance to reggae music.
Son - the root of most familiar styles of Cuban dance music. It is the result of merging African music practiced by the slaves and the music of the Spanish farmers (campesinos). It served as a basis for the Mambo, which in turn became the triple Mambo, now known as Cha Cha.
Springar - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Springdans - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Springleik - Swedish and Norwegian country dance
Tamunangue, El - Venezuelan rural music and dance style from the state of Lara that honors San Antonio de Padua (Saint Anthony, also known as "black Anthony) in appreciation for good weather and rain. This black Venezuelan style is played with drums, cuatros, quintos.
Tamure - new dance form from Micronesia
Tammorriata - southern Italian traditional songs and dances accompanied by the tammorra tambourine.
Tango - A popular dance style originated in the streets and salons of Buenos Aires, Argentine. Its passionate hold and complex leg and foot movements characterize it.
Tanko Bushi - Japanese coal miner's dance. The song tells of a miner, working in the mines and thinking of home in the mountains. The movements mimic those of the miner digging coal, carrying the sacks of coal, holding the head light, and pushing the coal carts.
Tarantella - Italian folk dance. Women use tambourines.
Taskiouine - See taskiwin
Taskiwin - Moroccan warrior's dance. The body is shaken rhythmically and stopped suddenly with perfectly- timed stamping of the feet.
Tchebe - Togolese stilt dance
Torrás - Lively dance from the province Ciudad Real, Spain. Dancers line up in rows
tras trasera - Chilean dance from the Quellón region that combines Spanish music and dance forms with aboriginal Chilean music and dance.
Tsapika - popular Malagasy dance rhythm from Fort Dauphin / Tulear, in the south.
Turdanser - choreographed figure folk dances from Scandinavia.
Valses chilotes - Chilean dance from the Quellón region that combines Spanish music and dance forms with waltzes and aboriginal Chilean music and dance.
Verdiales - A typical folk dance from Málaga, Spain.
Vidalita - Argentine country dance.
Watsa-watsa - popular Malagasy dance rhythm influenced by music from Mozambique and Congo.
Welsh step dancing - see Clogging.
Whirling Dervishes - Ritual dancers who belong to the Mevlevi order, a devotional Islamic brotherhood that uses liturgical dance.
Xango - A dance of the Macumba ritual in Brazil. It is in honor of the jungle god Xango.
Xtoles - Pronounced chitoles. Mayan Warriors dance from Mexico.
Yurupari - Ritual dance of the Indians of the Brazilian Amazon basin said to protect the young male dancers against feminine seduction.
Zambra - Spanish Flamenco dance of Moorish origin, performed primarily by Gypsy women.
Zandunga - Songs and dances of southern Mexico. The lyrics tell a funny story.
Zapateado - 1. Spanish Flamenco dances in which men and women create rhythmic patterns with the heels. 2. Spanish male Flamenco dances which consists purely of intricate stomping. The guitar accompanies it.
Credits: Chakula (Charkula Nraitya Avam Brij Lok Geet Munch, India)
Last Updated 02/10 10:41AM