Peasant Dance Traditions and National Dance Types in East-Central Europe in the 16th-19th Century.


The author analyses the interrelation between elite culture and popular culture as it appears in the modern history of East Central European folk dances. According to his opinion, differences among popular dance traditions of various zones in Europe reflect phase shifts in the historic development: some regions preserved medieval and renaissance dance forms while other regions adopted more modern styles. In contrast to the spread of courtly and elite dance forms among the common people, the appearence of "national dance types" represents the conscious incorporation of peasant dance traditions into the national culture. In the 16th-17th century the Hajdu (Heyduck) dance might be considered as an early forerunner of these "national dance types". Originally a weapon-dance of herdsmen and soldier-peasants, this dance acquired a sort of national significance during the centuries of war against the Turks and was practised in all layers of contemporary society. Later in the 19th century, during the era of national awakening, the creation of "national dance types" was guided by national ideologies and followed a remarkably similar pattern among Hungarians, Slovaks and Transylvanian Roumanians.

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Martin, G., (1984) “Peasant Dance Traditions and National Dance Types in East-Central Europe in the 16th-19th Century.”, Ethnologia Europaea 15(1), p.117-128. doi:


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György Martin (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)



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