Florida offers its own version of international folk dancing, with several performing groups and available classes. For example, Orlando's International Folk Dance Club covers Balkan, French, German and Scottish dances and others. The club attracts people of all ages and backgrounds. It's a very social thing. Because several of the dance styles are line dances, no one is left out for lack of a partner. There are many places to go for folk dance lessons. The Florida Sentinel has a good list of folk dance groups to choose from.
State Dance of Florida
As of 1986, the United Square Dancers of America, Inc (USDA) claimed that Florida had designated the Square Dance as its official folk dance. Florida was the sixth State to designate "Square Dance" as their official folk Dance. Floridians love to square dance, and there's a very special group of people who are fully dedicated to square dancing. Inside Arlington Presbyterian Church Hall for example, couples swing and step in time with various traditional songs, as well as popular music that has been modified to fit square dancing.
The Span of Folk Dancing
Many societies today recognize specific classifications of dance by a specific name. For example, the Jarabe Tapatío is a Mexican folk dance and is often called the national dance of Mexico (better known internationally as the Mexican hat dance). Folk dances in connection with early Chinese folk dances were essentially ritual enactments of superstitious beliefs performed in the hope of a good harvest, and in the case of the earliest Chinese folk dances, in the hope of a good hunt.
Folk dancing is deep rooted in certain traditions around the world, and even today there are specific styles of folk dancing that are regulary practiced as part of celebratory and religious activities. European countries have dances that are used to identity certain traits of their culture, such as the German/Austrian slap dance (Schuhplattler), and the Jota of Spain. In Portugal, folk dances are usually celebrated in accordance to traditional Catholic influences. Many Portuguese styles of dances correspond to different areas of Portugal, and each with a unique background. Some types of dance include the Vira, Chula, Corridinho, Malhão and Fandango.
Regardless of country or region, folk dances are commonly used as way of expressing national pride, religious beliefs, superstitions, and stories based on myth and legend. Folk dance is commonly used by performers to convey a message that is intended to be "open-ended" and left to the interpretation of the observer. Many U.S. States recognize a particular dance style as their designated "State Dance," so depending on the State you're in, folk dancing can be characterize by a particular dance that is not intended to be the "official" definition of folk dance. States are also likely to identify more than just one type of dance that is popular within their State's traditions and history. If there is only one category of dance, it's unlikely to be labeled as "folk dance."
Places to Dance Directory
The FFDC "Places to Dance Directory" has the information of many dance groups listed in their database. There's no obligation to be a member of the Florida Folk Dance Council, and if you would like to be listed, contact them through their website here >
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