Folk dance is not easily defined. In an article on the website of The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, European folk dances are described as typically being associated with “peasant” or “folk” communities, created in groups or alone and informally passed from generation to generation.
“The belief that folk dance is an authentic representation of an ancient heritage and the cultural identity of a folk or a nation has inspired scholars, politicians, and others to seek out typical and representative dances,” according to the article.
While it stores collections of folk dance, song and music materials from all over the world, the American Folklife Center acknowledges that documenting dance presents problems, even with video available. The Center offers hard-to-find periodicals and information about folk-revival clubs and organizations, as well as information on events, recordings, videos, song sheets, photographs and illustrations of instruments.
“In general, folklore begins at home,” according to an article titled, Community Life and Celebration on the Center’s site. Immediate family is our first folk group and the source of knowledge and folk expressions. But we often don’t notice family folklore – it’s “just the way we do things.”
PHOTO: Bulgarian peasants dancing the horo c. 1906.