Whilst for many, the term folk dancing may conjure images of wizened Morris dancers with silk scarves, they are still relevant today and are a fantastic element of a well-rounded music program.
Not only do they get students up and moving, cover dance aspects of a Performing Arts curriculum (if you are hired to teach all Performing Arts and not just music), offer a chance to expose students to a variety of repertoire and, perhaps most importantly, folk dances are absolutely great for teaching form!
Below are a few of my favourites and all have clear sections which are obvious for the students to spot and differentiate - both musically and in terms of the types of moves accompanying that section. This is a great way for those kinaesthetic learners to further develop their understanding of form!
A fantastic circle dance set to the Russian Dance from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" this dance is just so much fun! I'll be posting about this dance in more detail closer to Christmas as it forms part of a festive listening lesson that I love completing, but you can find steps to this dance on my Teachers Pay Teachers store
Seven Jumps is a really fun additive dance all about pulling an apple from a tree. Then two apples. Then three and so on! Shenanigans have a great recording and instruction booklet as part of their Dance Music for Children Vol. 1 set.
This video uses the song "Chakkardi Bhammardi" by Manoj Dave, Kishor Manraja et. al
An Indian folk dance which uses decorated sticks (in my class I have a jar of chopsticks), this is great for teaching form as there are clear A. B and C sections and they are not all the same length so it's great for challenging slightly more advanced students who have experienced form enough to expect the usual patterns, but will still be pushed by the differing lengths of this dance.
This song is a staple of my choir rehearsals/first-lesson-of-the-year/new-people-getting-together-to-make-music lessons.
It's a great way for students to mix around and find different partners all over the room. I love that by the end of the song (it speeds up!) they are so busy frantically trying to find a partner that they forget about which students are their friends and which ones they don't really talk to, everyone becomes equal in the search for a pair of hands to clap!
What a great way to bring everyone together and bring down any boundaries that a group of strangers might have. Now they're ready to make music together!
You can find this as part of the New England Dance Masters collection "Alabama Girl"
Froggy Went A Courtin'
Now, this particular set of steps is not a "folk" dance in the strictest sense as they were actually created by yours truly. However, it's a great one for teaching several facets of folk dancing including sets, progressive steps like "peeling the banana" and "through the arches". It's also just really, really fun! Check out a post in more detail here.