Danish Folkdance: Dancing with the Masses

Denmark has its distinctive folkdance identified with the masses long before the pols or polska from Poland and the minuet from France were introduced in the country. It did not have a specific name but the farmers and others belonging to the lower economic class enjoyed it and developed variants as the nobles were busy dancing the minuet. It is believed to have started sometime in 1780 to 1880.

While the most predominant forms of folkdancing were the four-pair dances and ring dances, there were many other variants including the 1, 2, 3 or 8-pair dances as well as the row dances. Folkdancing was almost forgotten if not for the efforts by some to learn the original from those who have actually experienced dancing it. Today, it is the local dance groups that are continuing a tradition started by these people who entertained themselves with such dancing.

Folkdancing was initially limited  in farmhouses during special gatherings. Musical performances were also quite limited and were often done in places where officially appointed town musicians played their music. The fiddle became the primary choice for playing dance music and fiddlers for a time enjoyed a special status among the people for providing entertainment in family gatherings, church activities, and local festivities.

Dancing the folkdance is made more authentic by the clothes worn. Thes clothes resemble the Sunday best of the masses. There is great care and pride behind the clothes worn since it has been traditional to embroider every part of the whole costume from the bonnet to the socks. It is interesting to note that there are currently more than 12,000 folk dancers belonging to 219 local clubs where the tradition is continued through music, dancing, and dressmaking courses.

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