The following dance categories are closely related to each other:

  • Folk dance
  • Ethnic dance
  • Traditional dance
  • Country dance
  • Street dance

See List of dances sorted by ethnicity for a list of specific ethnic,folk, traditional, and regional dances sorted by ethnicity or country.

Table of contents
1 Folk dance
2 Ethnic/Traditional dance
3 Country dance
4 Street dance

Folk dance

Folk dance is a term used to encompass a large number of dances that tend to share the following attributes:

  • They were originally danced in about the 19th century or earlier (or are, in any case, not currently copyrighted);
  • Their performance is dominated by an inherited tradition rather than by innovation;
  • They were danced by common people, regardless of whether they were danced by any sort of aristocracy;
  • There is no one governing body that has final say over what "the dance" is or who is authorized to teach it. This also means that nobody has the final say over the definition of folk dance or the minimum age for such dances.

Some examples of families of folk dances would be:

Ethnic/Traditional dance

The terms Ethnic and Traditional dance are used when it is required to emphasize the cultural roots of the dance. It this sense, nearly all folk dances are ethnic ones. Even if some dances, such as Polka, cross ethnic boundaries (and even cross the boundary between Folk and Ballroom dance!), ethnical differences are often considerable enough to speak of, e.g., "Czech Polka" vs. "German Polka".

On the contrary, not all ethnic dances are folk ones. The simplest example are ritual dances or dances of ritual origin.

Country dance

Country dance is a loose term for a variety of dance forms. Among these are:

Clogging - Contradance - Cumbia - Galop - Mazurka - Minuet - Polka - Polonaise - Quadrille - Redowa - Schottische - Two step

Country dance overlaps with contemporary folk dance and with contemporary ballroom dance. Most country dances and ballroom dances originated from folk dances, with gradual refinement over the years.

Some specific forms of country dance, such as English Country Dance refer to specific folk dances. The term "country dance" first appeared in the 16th century, before any of the above-mentioned dances paragraph came into existence.

The meanings of country music and country dance were once more intertwined than they are today. Contemporary country music has roots in the various forms of dance music that traditionally accompanied country dance, but is now mostly a separate concept.

See also Country/western dance.

Street dance

Modern Street dances such as
Hip hop are not generally considered folk dances because they do not meet the above criteria. In particular, street dances are living and evolving dance forms, while folk dances are in siginicant degree are bound by tradition.

The main distinction this term bears is with respect to Ballroom dance with its reglamented technique and formalized dance schools and studios.

See Dance basic topics for a list of general dance topics.