I’d Rather Be Dancing United States Folk Dances

Standard

Some US folk dances are all-American; some steal borrow liberally from other countries. These are some of the US-originated dances we do with the Phoenix International Folk Dancers.

12th Street Rag is inspired by the Roaring Twenties. We do it with couples promenading around a large circle or oval.

Chi Balla was set to an Italian song by the American choreographer, Ira Weisburd. It is a mixer, meaning that each time the dancers finish the 8-measure pattern, they progress to a new partner:

It’s been a while since I’ve danced Cotton-Eyed Joe, and I’m not sure if this is the version we do:

Cumbia Semana is a dance with a Latin flavor choreographed by Ira Weisburd:

I know this dance by the name Mozart Hassapiko. Ira Weisburd and Eli Ronen choreographed it using dance steps from the Greek tradition.

This dance is called Hot Pretzels, maybe because of the way the couples’ arms look as they exchange positions:

Yolanda is danced to a Venezuelan song. Ira Weisburd teaches this dance, but it’s not clear to me whether he is the choreographer or not; one website attributes the choreography to Bea Montrose:

Virginia Reel is an old American barn dance:

Some remember Salty Dog Rag as being introduced in the 1950s by Ricky Holden; others say it goes back to the ragtime era circa 1911:

This video claims to be the official choreography for the Macarena, which is danced to a Spanish song but originated in the United States. I only knew the original set of movements, but I like these variations because they make the dance more interesting and fun:

About Andrea R Huelsenbeck

Andrea R Huelsenbeck is a wife, a mother of five and a former elementary general music teacher. A freelance writer in the 1990s, her nonfiction articles and book reviews appeared in Raising Arizona Kids, Christian Library Journal, and other publications. She is currently working on a young adult mystical fantasy novel and a mystery.

3 responses »

  1. I’ve never seen Cotton-Eye Joe danced like that…usually it is a circle of couples that all move in the same direction side by side. Mostly counter clockwise, but occasionally reversing direction for a short bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know of at least 3 different dances done to Cotton-Eyed Joe and I’m fairly certain there are more. This version is basically the one we do in Southern Arizona.

    As for Yolanda, you are correct that it pre-dates Ira Weisburd. He popularized it long after it had faded from most international folk dance repertoires. Ira also modified part of it—simplified it a bit. I prefer the older version.

    Liked by 1 person

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