World of Traditional Dances

Let us express our heartfelt thanks to Mrs. Verónica Albanesi, spouse of the Ambassador of Argentina, who hosted us on 12 November 2018. Verónica presented a beautiful video on Argentina and the wonders of Argentine dances. As the eighth largest country in the world, Argentina has not only nature, wild life, rainforests, snow-capped mountains and beautiful coastlines, gauchos herding cattle, a fantastic selection of food and wine, polo and football, it is also the land of fascinating music and dances that have spread throughout the world.
 
The most captivating dance is Tango, which originated in Buenos Aires in the 19th century. This beautiful dance is similar to the traditional Argentine dance Milonga, where the pace is faster and pauses are less frequent. New variations have since been created, such as the New Tango, which is bolder, and the Tango Salon. The main instrument used is a bandoneon.
 
Traditional folk dances accompany numerous festivities throughout Argentina, such as the national dance Zamba, the partner dance Chacarera from the rural north, the group dance Malambo, created in the 17th century, the cheerful and fast dance Carnavalito, and Murga resembling the carnival and musical theatre dance style.
 
The Argentinian dances set the right mood for our English conversations about traditional dances around the world. Since ancient times, music and dances have been part of celebrations and ceremonies. Fortunately, these dance traditions have been handed down from generation to generation so that we can still enjoy them.
 
In the U.K. there are traditional dances to keep the population happy and healthy: Morris dance, an old English folk dance with performers wearing fairy-tale costumes with bells; the maypole dance around a tall pole with long ribbons, the Scottish dance with men and women wearing the kilt, and the Irish step dance.
 
The Viennese Waltz is still the most popular ballroom dance in Austria and Germany. A 19th-century Bavarian dance Schuhplattler, also known as the “Dance of the Alps”, is performed by men in Lederhosen, who clap on their thighs and soles of their shoes and bring everyone laughter and fun.
 
Many traditional music and dances have also crossed borders. For example, the Cape Verdeans have adopted various Portuguese and African dance styles and influences. The music, songs and dance of Coladeira have a pronounced South American, predominantly Brazilian influence.
 
There are more than 3,000 ethnic dances in Indonesia. Bali’s famous Kecak fire dance is best performed at sunset by male dancers clad in Balinese sarongs. The attractive Bedaya dance from Yogyakarta is characterized by graceful movements of female performers in beautiful costumes and headdresses, accompanied by Gamelan music.
 
Traditional dances have been around for a long time in Iranian everyday life. There is the solo dance with delicate movements of hands and arms. Chain or line dances represent unity. The combat dance is performed by men striking wooden sticks while turning in circles. Ritual dances include the fire dance and the rain dance.
 
Kazakhstan has a tradition of riding, music and dances. Kazakh dances have adopted forms of hunting scenes that express courage and emotions, and folk dances reflect the lives and customs of the people. While male dancers have sharp or acrobatic movements, female dancers wearing long costumes and traditional headgear move gracefully and artistically to the rhythm of the music.
 
The ancient Japanese dance styles consist of three elements: Mai, Odori and Furi. Mai is magical and noble, and is danced to solemn music. The Furi dance expresses the daily movements and gestures. The Odori folk dance based on light music was created for the masses. To this day, the Awa Odori dance is enjoyed by all.
 
Kenya’s multi-tribal communities have their unique dance styles and attires. The Maasai dancers from the north form a circle and jump up high. The Kamba dancers from the east shake their shoulders and stamp their bare feet. The most populous tribe Kikuyu focuses on rhythmic foot and hand movements. The Luo community from western Kenya has probably the most energetic dance with dancers shaking the entire body!
 
The concept of dance in Sri Lanka dates back to the 4th century BC with the desire to expel natural disasters and prevent illnesses. There are now 3 main dance forms. The national dance Kandyan initiates animal movements or tells stories of kings and heroes. The mask dance is ritualistic, with dancers wearing masks depicting birds, reptiles, etc. Finally, the Sabaragamuwa is a religious dance.
 
The rich diversity of dance in Tunisia reflects the migration flows over the centuries. Very popular is the scarf dance with hip movements by female performers. The intricate pot dance Nuba from Djerba and Kerkennah islands, is performed by both men and women, with jars filled with water balanced on their heads.
 
The dragon dance, accompanied by drums, is one of the most celebrated dances performed in Singapore during official ceremonies and festivities. The dragon symbolizes good luck and, therefore, the longer the dragon dances, the more luck it brings to the community. The traditional dances in Yemen are plentiful; they vary depending on the city or village. The dances are also different for men and women, with delicate music and rhythms for women, while men perform the traditional Baraa dance to the sound of big drums.
 
After sharing the wonderful experiences of dances around the world, a reception with Argentinian delicacies followed in the coziness of the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence. The attached photos reflect an enjoyable morning spent together.