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Dance School Newcastle Traditional Dances Across the World blog image

If there’s one thing that people from all parts of the world share, it is a love of dance and music. Many dance styles started as a traditional cultural dance and this has led to an incredible number of different styles of dance from around the globe.

As ballet teachers in North Tyneside we are constantly inspired by dance styles from across the world so here is a quick list of some traditional dances we know and love:


Indian Kathak Classical Dance

India has ten major forms of classical dance and the Kathak is one associated with the travelling bards of the northern Indian states. Known as kathakars or storytellers, they wandered from community to community telling great epics and myths with dance, songs and music in a similar way to early Greek theatre. It also features stories of the Hindu god Krishna, especially of his childhood.

Ukranian Gopak or Cossack Dance

The Gopak or Hopak is also known as the Cossack Dance and is the national dance of Ukraine. It is performed as dance in its own right or sometimes with other folk dances and has also been used as part of operas and ballets. It began as a social dance in the 16th century when it was performed by men and often re-enacted scenes from the battlefield with real swords and other weapons. Later it developed into a dance for young boys and girls as well.

Tinikling – A traditional Philippine Folk Dance

This Philippine dance came from the era when the Spanish controlled the country and involves to people using poles made from bamboo that are beat together and the ground. This is coordinated with dancers who step over and between the poles to dance. It is accompanied by rondalla music, a serenade played on string instruments that were brought by the Spanish to the area. The name of the dance comes from a local name for a trio of birds of the rail family as it imitates their movements when looking for food.

Kabuki from Japan

Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama that has a great emphasis on elaborate makeup and the stylisation of the drama. The dance started back in the 1600s in Kyoto when a new style of dance was showed, often comic in content. It then spread around the country ranging from being all-male casts to mixed casts. In modern times English versions and headphones in theatres to translate the show has seen an increase in interest from tourists.

Balinese Kekak Dance

The Kekak or Kecak is a ritual dance and music drama that was first performed in the 1930s. originally it was performed by men but more recently, all-women groups have started to perform it. It is also known as the Ramayana Monkey Chant and involves around 150 performed in a circle wearing a material around their waist, changing and moving their hands and arms. It is based on a battle from the Ramayana where Vanara (who was described as a bit like a monkey) helped Prince Rama defeat the terrible king.

Dabke – Middle East

The Dabke is an Arab folk dance from the Levant area of the Middle East that combines line dancing and circle dancing. It is often seen at weddings and other celebrations with the lead of the line alternatively looking at the audience and other dancers. There are lots of different variations including 19 from Jordan alone.