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The regional interactive encyclopedic portal «Bashkortostan»
Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Bashkortostan State autonomous institution of science of the Republic of Bashkortostan Bashkir encyclopedia


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ETHNIC DANCE is a folklore dance performed in its natural environment. It has certain traditional moves, beat, costumes, etc.

The Bashkir E.d. reflect some peculiarities of labor activities, different customs and beliefs, imaginative perception of nature, the habits of animals and birds. The dances of hunters are the oldest. They are connected with cult of nature and animals. Shaman and epic dances were described by I.I. Lepyekhin, animals-imitating dances – by P.S. Pallas, birds-imitating dances – by S.G. Rybakov, women ceremonial round dances – by S.I. Rudenko. There are ceremonial and game E.d. They usually include a multitude of repetitive moves. The smooth variable motion is a sort of artistic refrain. The leg moves are diverse, they are mostly steps and fractions: ordinary steps, side steps (including the inner side of the foot striking the other one), steps from the toe to the entire foot, “crossed”, “sliding” steps to the side, back steps, running with skips and jumps, and others. Solo dances have the most diverse and developed structure of elements. Duet dances-competitions used to be very common. The dancers would compete with each other face to face. There also were trio dances, dances of small groups, dances of collective groups. Male dances are based on different moves that reflect the images of a hunter, a warrior, a dexterous rider, brave dzhigit (“Baik”, “Perovskiy” and others. Female dances often imitate different labor activities: spinning, churning butter, embroidery, etc. Female dance is ornamented with snapping fingers, playing with shoulders, waving hands from side to side and so-called “trill” moves imitating a butterfly’s or a bird’s flight, leaves flutter (“Muglifa” and others). F.A. Gaskarov was one of the researchers of E.d. He preserved the distinctive features of Bashkir dances, adapted and staged them professionally.

Tatar E.d. used to be ceremonial, imitations or games in ancient times too. There were dancing pantomimes that brightly reflected cultural and personal life. They were danced not only at holidays but also when, for example, a boy was about to become a recruit, or to deliver the sad feeling of upcoming long separation. The Tatar dances can be divided into solo, pair and round dances. Energetic dances included many turns and jumps, gentle steps and waving of hands.

Chuvash E.d. were also performed at different holidays and to celebrate some calendar or family ceremonies. Chuvash dances can be divided into solo, pair and collective; female, male, young. E.d. could be accompanied by songs, dancing choruses or ethnic musical instruments (bagpipe, gusli, duda, violin, accordion, drum and others), sometimes also with claps. Many ethnic and other collectives follow the traditions of Chuvash ethnic choreography: “Narspi”, “Trigorye stars” (Bizhbulakskiy District, RB), “Ashkadar springs” (Fyedorovskiy District), “Snowdrop”, (Checkmagushevskiy District, RB) and others.

Udmurt E.d. used to be performed on different calendar holidays (masquerade, maslenitsa, Great day, sabantuy) and family anniversaries (birthdays, weddings, send-off to army). E.d. were usually performed also during youth games, in summer they were danced in a meadow or a village street, in winter - in houses. Initially they were a component of a ceremony. For example, priests would perform a small dance after praying. It was the start of Sabantuy holiday. E. d of the Udmurts from RB are modest and lyrical, the dancing moves are short, the body and arms do not move much, however include simple fractions, braids, ropes and pair circling. The most common form of Udmurt

E.d. on the territory of RB is an improvising dance combined with chastushki singing: the dancers make a circle and clap their hands, one of the dancers comes into the circle, dances there and then invites the next person. There were different popular dances at the Udmurt holidays: making the same move within the dancing circle, pair dance and smooth, calm female dance. Dances that include complex figures such as quadrille would be performed by three, four, six or eight dancers. Initially the dancers had bagpipe and qusli accompaniment, later they were also accompanied by violins and sgueezebox. L. Fyelfeldi, ethnic choreograph from Hungary was studying the dances of the Udmurts from Tatyshlinskiy District in 1990. Choreograph Y.N. Baturina described the dances of the Udmurts from the area beyond the Kama river.

There are Mari E.d. widely known in Bashkortostan, such as: Small rope, “Eight”, “Searching for a partner”, “Twelve”, “Spring”, “Five pairs”, etc. The Mari dances are believed to appear in times of paganism, people would dance during the youth games, celebrations and others. All actions during the matchmaking process were accompanied with dances, people would invite local professionals for this purpose. Traditionally E.d. were accompanied by a pipe, a bagpipe, drums, gusli, wooden pipes, etc. and by accordion. Silver ropeopen district Mari dance festival took place in August 2014 in Kaltasy village of Kaltasinskiy District.

Ancient Polish E.d. were connected with family ceremonies (birth, wedding) or with farming ceremonies. There is a special group of dances-imitating labor skills. There are certain popular dances, such as oberek, polonez, krakovyak, kuyavyak, mazurka, etc. that became a part of repertoires of modern professional Bashkortostan groups. Polish E.d. have violin, mazanka (bowed instrument), duda (bagpipe), pipe, shepherd’s pipe accompaniment.

The German E.d. that are the most widely known were connected with wedding ceremonies. Traditionally the wedding is celebrated in the  bride’s  house.  After  the registration of the marriage a bride andagroomgofirstthrough the gate, they have to dance 3 wedding dances, then the groom dances with a maid of honor and the bride dances with a grooms-man, then they are to be offered a  dance  by  single  men  and women (as a symbol to farewell  with  friends,  with  carelessness and to begin the family life). The dances were accompanied by traditional musical instruments (accordion, harmonium, violin, clarinet, guitar, etc.). Traditional Russian E.d. are considered to be round dances, improvised dances (pereplyas, barynya, trepak), quadrille, etc.

Belarusian E.d. were mostly connected with ceremonies. The most popular dances were spring-summer and winter round dances, polka, quadrille, etc.

There are different celebrations, contests and festivals to make E.d. more popular.

Publication date: 17.06.2021
Last updated: 23.08.2021