Russian dance, like dances in many other cultures, is an integral part of Russian culture and has been for a long time. In fact, many types of Russian dance date as far back as the 10th century. Because of Russia’s size as a country, there were many invasions and contacts with other countries and as such, a mix of different European dances and music influenced and helped create Russian folk dances. Traditionally, it was lower class Russian citizens and members of Russian society who would perform for the upper class who would watch the performances and not participate in the dance.
Today, Russian folk dances still play a role in the culture but the various Russian dances are no longer part of the lower class, mid and upper class can and do all participate in Russian dances whether for recreational or competitive purposes. There are even Russian ballets that are world famous.
The unique characteristics of Russian dance include furious and gentle music that the choreography is set to and performed to.
In addition, the squat work and the infamous knee bend and musical and rhythmic foot stomping are unique and differentiate Russian dance from many other styles of dance. The squat work is impressive as the squats are done at varying tempos as music speeds up and slows down and require serious balance and coordination.
The costumes are detailed and traditionally were handmade. The clothing is designed depending on the occasion as often special dances are done for different special occasions. Headdresses (called Kokoshnik ), embroidered shirts, aprons and even belts are also common costume elements for women. Red is one of the most common and important colours in these dances as it associated with the idea of beauty and being beautiful.
Costumes are beautifully designed with detail. Typically, the clothing for the dances is based on specific events, such as holidays, and varies between these events. Women wear holiday headdresses, embroidered shirts, belts, and ornamented aprons. Men wear shirts, a belt, narrow pants, and high boots. Red is incorporated in many of the costumes because it is associated with beauty in the Russian tradition. In Russian dances woman and girls often carry a pocket square with them. Girls and women often wear the traditional Russian headdress during performances.
There are several types of traditional Russian dance;
- Squat Dance
Russian dance is celebrated, observed and participated in all over the world by more than just those of Russian descent or with Russian roots. There are many ways to enjoy Russian dance styles. It is not an easy form of dance to learn as it is deeply technical.