Dances from More Lands

All over the world, people like to get up and dance! Here’s a collection of five additional kinds of dance, each from a different culture. You can read about them, you can listen to the dance music, and you can dance if you want to! 

Kabuki: Dance and Singing Art Form from Japan 

A Solo Performance by Nakamura Umemaru at the Portland Japanese Garden 

Illustration of Kabuki dance performance

Kabuki [Say it: “kah-BOO-kee!”] is a style of theater performance with singing and dancing. The performance originated in Japan in the early 1600s. Kabuki artists tell stories through expressive movements, using colorful costumes and makeup, and elaborate stage sets. 

Kabuki artist Nakamura Umemaru dances and acts in this beautiful performance. 

Ländler: A Dance from Austria 

4 Ländler for Piano Duet D. 814 by Franz Schubert  

An illustration of the Ländler dance.

The Ländler [say it: “LEND-ler”!] is a dance from Austria and Bavaria. It grew out of peasant dances that people in German-speaking lands have enjoyed since the Middle Ages. It’s in 3/4 time, which means the beats are arranged in sets of threes, just like in a waltz. In fact, the Ländler is a musical ancestor of the waltz! 

This is a set of four Ländler by Austrian composer Franz Schubert. He wrote them for piano duet, so that when friends gathered for a party, two people could play the music on the piano, and everyone else could dance! 

Csárdás: A Dance from Hungary 

“Csárdás” from Hunyadi László by Ferenc Erkel 

An illustration of the Csárdás dance.

The csárdás [Say it: “CHAR-dosh!”] is the national dance of Hungary. It’s based on folk music traditions, but it was actually invented in the 1800s, so it’s not as old as some of the dances on this list! A csárdás begins with a section of slow music and ends with wild, fast music. 

This csárdás is by Hungarian composer Ferenc Erkel. 

Tango: A Dance from Argentina 

“Escualo” by Astor Piazzolla 

A photo of two dancers dancing the tango.

The tango is a dance that grew out of dances from many countries. Its ingredients include a Spanish dance style called flamenco, an Argentine dance called milonga, and a dance from Cuba called habanera, named after Havana, the capital of Cuba. 

This tango is by Argentine composer Astor Piazzolla. It’s called Escualo, which means “The Dogfish!” 

Swing: A Dance from America 

“Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima 

A photo capturing two dancers swing dancing.
By Marion Post Wolcott – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID fsa.8c11028.This tag

Swing is a social dance that sprang up in America in Black communities between the 1920s and 1940s. It’s danced to swing music, a type of jazz that’s often performed by big bands, sometimes with a singer. Throughout the United States, lots of varieties of swing dancing developed, including the Lindy Hop, the Charleston, and the Jitterbug. 

“Sing, Sing, Sing” is a popular swing song to dance to. American songwriter Louis Prima composed the song.