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Character Dance 1

Character dance is a term for the various national and folk dances which form part of ballet. Character dances use different steps to classical ballet so they expand your dancing ability while reinforcing basic techniques. Character dances often have very strong rhythms which reflect their folk origins.

Many classical ballets feature character dances like the 3rd act of Swan Lake, for instance. Click here to see a clip of the mazurka from the Royal Ballet's production of Coppelia (but watch out, you might be humming the tune for the rest of the day...)

Character dance features in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus (widely studied in the UK and abroad) as well as in the Vaganova method. The dances typically come from European countries like Spain (eg flamenco), Italy (eg the tarantella) and Poland (eg the mazurka). For character dance, boys usually wear black lace-up shoes, rather like lightweight smart shoes, instead of ballet shoes. They make a loud click when you snap the heels together. Sometimes special character boots are worn.

Here are two rather special clips of a Russian sailor's dance - their equivalent of the hornpipe. The first clip comes from the end of the Second World War and shows real sailors dancing aboard ship:

The second clip is from the brilliant German dance festival, Tanzolymp. These Russian boys (from the Loktev Dance Ensemble) are all under the age of 18:

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