8 junio, 2024

Native dance: concept, characteristics and examples

The native dances They are dance styles created in a region and that represent the culture of the people who live there. These dances do not include the ritualistic dance, since it is considered religious and is in another category. Likewise, it is not limited to dances rooted in the culture for hundreds of years, although the term usually refers to these.

The indigenous dances of each region can represent the traditional culture and the current culture of the country to which they belong. Different countries have different appreciations of the types of dances that can be considered indigenous, but in general the term is used to encompass any style of traditional or folk dance.


Characteristics of native dances

Indigenous dance is not a dance genre in itself, nor does it encompass some type of dance that presents the same type of movements or patterns.

An indigenous dance is specific to each country, region or area to which it belongs and is generally inherited from generation to generation, giving a cultural touch to those who practice these regional dance styles.

informal execution

These dance styles are usually accompanied by traditional music and the dancers have little or no professional practice.

They are dances that are not designed to be performed in theaters or large presentations and their execution is linked to an intercultural tradition rather than innovation, the latter being irrelevant in native dance.

In many European areas, a traditional or autochthonous dance is considered to be that dance that has been in force since before the 20th century. This concept is not accepted all over the world, but it is generally agreed that indigenous dance is the product of several human generations of evolution.


Certain styles of dance that have been generated recently tend to be excluded from the autochthonous classification due to the nature of their origins.

Such is the case of hip hop, which although it evolved spontaneously and partly complies with the characteristics of native dance, it is considered a street dance.

The term autochthonous or traditional dance is linked to a certain extent with tradition, since in general they are dances that existed when the social differences between the different strata were more marked, and autochthonous dance and music was seen more commonly among people belonging to the popular classes.

Native dances in the world

Each country has indigenous dances particular to its region, and some have reached such a high degree of popularity that they are practiced in various parts of the world. However, it will always be in their land of origin where the practice of dance is most common.

Among the most popular indigenous dances in the world, the following stand out:

Tango (Argentina)

Tango is a dance style that was created at the end of the 19th century in Río de la Plata, Argentina. It features exotic movements and has African, European and indigenous influences. It is very popular today and is danced in various parts of the world.

Tarantella (Italy)

Approximately 500 years ago, the city of Taranto in Italy developed a dance whose purpose was to scare away spiders.

For this reason, the dance consisted of moving quickly to the rhythm of accelerated music. Its tradition was maintained for centuries and today it is a very popular dance in southern Italy.

Casino sauce (Cuba)

This style of salsa is originally and traditionally from Cuba and has become widely popular worldwide. Casino salsa schools abound in the United States, Europe and America.

However, for Cubans this style of salsa is part of their lifestyle and is rooted in their traditions.

Samba (Brazil)

Samba is one of the most popular indigenous dance genres in the world, partly because of the follow-up to Brazilian carnivals, where this dance is mainly practiced.

Each region of Brazil has a different way of performing this dance, but in general it is a happy dance with fast movements.

Cumbia (Colombia)

Cumbia is a dance style originating from the Colombian coasts, mainly practiced by Africans who inhabited the country’s beach regions hundreds of years ago.

By the mid-1940s, cumbia had begun to spread throughout Colombia, along with other typical styles of the region such as vallenato and porra.

lion dance (china)

The lion dance originated in China, but is practiced in several Asian countries. It consists of imitating the movements of a lion while wearing a giant costume of the creature.

It is usually practiced during the Chinese New Year and the beliefs of the region ensure that it brings fortune and good luck to its dancers.

Main indigenous dances in Mexico

Traditional Mexican dances are influenced by the mixture of cultures that gave rise to the society of Mexico. For this reason, it is possible to appreciate African, European and indigenous elements in the dances of this country.

Before the Conquest, the country’s indigenous dances were merely pagan. After the Spanish invasion, the missionaries sought to adapt these dances and give them Catholic meanings. The most popular indigenous dances in Mexico are the following:

shell hutches

This dance was developed in the early 1500s, after the Conquest, to preserve elements of the pre-Hispanic culture in the country.

dance of the flyers

This popular dance that is practiced today had its origins in central Mexico, and consists of 5 people climbing up a 30-meter high tube and then dropping down, with only a grab rope.

The dance of the old men

Perhaps one of the most recently created indigenous dances in Mexico, the dance of the old men originated in the middle of the last century. However, he uses ancient instruments and clothing that adhere to the cultural traditions of the country.

eight vices

This traditional dance is performed by 12 dancers. Eight of these represent vices, while the others are disguised as an angel, a devil, a doctor, and a priest; respectively.

In addition to the particular movements of this dance, it is customary to use dialogues to tell a story while dancing.


Folk Dance, (nd). Taken from britannica.com on February 20, 2018.
«Dances of Mexico», Cultural Institute «Mexican Roots». Taken on February 20, 2018.
Samba (Brazil), (nd), December 25, 2017. Taken from wikipedia.org
Folk Dance of Mexico, (nd), January 28, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
Lion Dance, (nd), February 19, 2018. Taken from wikipedia.org
Tango!: The Dance, the Song, the Story (New York: Thames and Hudson, 1995), p. 46–47, Simon Collier.

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