Folk Dance is universally accepted as the people’s dance form and is widely performed at social functions in India. There is little or no training given to dancers as the art of folk dance passes from generation to generation, as every child of the community is encouraged to learn it when elders are dancing. The dancers get captivated by the local or traditional music and the musicians and dancers complement each other’s performance. The talent and imagination of dancers greatly influence their performance. Some dances are performed individually whereas in some men and women dance together. Each form of dance is performed with its own specific rhythm, costumes and expressions coupled with energy, experience and celebration.
In general this dance form is not taken very seriously for professional stage performances, as unfortunately most folk dances have little or no commercial value. Also, since folk dancing does not have a governing or promotional body, it is controlled by no one. It is inherited from past traditions and therefore new dancers often dance merely by observing the steps of veterans. In some places, these folk dancers (basically villagers or tribal people) form a team and travel to different places to display their talent.
Folk dances are performed at every cultural occasion like festivals, marriages, welcoming guests, to celebrate harvest season and arrival of other seasons and religious events. Most folk dances have evolved naturally over a very long period going back several generations. They weren’t created or designed arbitrarily by a single person or group of people. Folk dance is also known by other names such as ethnic dance, traditional dance, street dance or vernacular dance.
A Folk Dance is unique in the sense that every community/ state/ country has its own form of folk dance.
Following dances, though originated as folk dances, have captured the imagination of contemporary dancers and have been adopted and developed by the Hollywood industry.
- Argentine Tango
- Circle Mixers
- Scottish (Country/Folk) Dancing
- Vintage, Hambo and Alpine
As the folk dance reflects the traditional life of the people of a country it is given high importance by the governments of countries and is show cased in functions such as film festivals, Independence Day function and so on. It is because of this special treatment by the governments and cultural groups that these dance forms still exist in the modern commercially driven world.
Learning folk dance is fun as these dance forms are based on natural dancing instincts and body-movements of us humans.
Nowadays many people are of the view that dance is something that can be performed only on stage and that it has to be learnt in a dance studio. And they watch the dance shows on TV with eagerness. The social dancing that mostly gets into the silver screen is the nicely choreographed performance of well practiced dancer/s. This TV art form is completely different from real folk dance, that is performed on the ground of a village.
Even today folk dance is regularly performed in most of the the rural areas of India. We think it is time that we city dwellers educated ourselves about this pure form of dance and adopted it. Folk dance is not just a dance form but an identity and bonding force of a community and is its pride.