Dances from Many Lands

All over the world, people like to get up and dance! Here’s a collection of five 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! 

Kolo: A Dance from the Balkans

Slavonic Dance Op. 72 No. 7 by Antonín Dvořák


The kolo is a dance from Balkan countries like Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia. The word “kolo” comes from a Slavic word that means “wheel,” because to dance a kolo, dancers often join hands and dance in a circle.

This kolo is from the Slavonic Dances by Czech composer Antonín Dvořák [Say it: “da-VORE-shahk!”].

Tarantella: A Dance from Italy

Tarantella in A minor by Niccolò Paganini

The tarantella is a quick Italian dance from the 1300s, often danced with tambourines. It’s named after the Italian town of Taranto. There’s also a Mediterranean spider named after Taranto: the tarantula! There’s a legend that people of Taranto would dance the tarantella in a frenzy to cure a tarantula bite.

This tarantella is by Italian composer Niccolò Paganini.

Dihne: a Dance from Zimbabwe

A Performance by Rujeko Dumbutshena and Farai Malianga

Dihne [Say it: dee-NAY] is a dance from Zimbabwe. Dihne is a joyful dance to celebrate the harvest. Like many African dance styles, it takes a lot of skill to play and dance, because it uses polyrhythm [Say it: “POL-ly-rih-them!”], which means more than one rhythm at the same time.

In this video, dancer Rujeko Dumbutshena and drummer Farai Malianga perform and teach steps from the dinhe, so that you can dance along at home!

Jig: A Dance from the British Isles

“A Gigg” in A minor by William Byrd

The jig is a folk dance with speedy footwork. It’s been around in Scotland and northern England since the 1500s, but it’s most famous for being danced in Ireland! In the Renaissance, the jig was so popular that it spread all over Europe. In France and Germany they called it a gigue [Say it: “zheeg!”] and in Italy they called it a giga [Say it: “JEE-gah!”]

This jig is by English Renaissance composer William Byrd.

Mazurka: a Dance from Poland

Mazurka Op. 33 no. 2 by Frédéric Chopin


The mazurka is a folk dance from Poland that’s been around since the 1500s. It’s danced by a group of people in a circle, and many of the steps include stamping your feet and clicking your heels! The mazurka is named after the mazurs, a Polish people group who invented the dance.