Polka History

Tamara Warta
polka

Polka history is a rare wealth of information, oftentimes only known by devoted followers of this specific dance style. Below is a basic history of the polka, as well as recommendations if you are looking to learn more about polka history and its fun dance steps.

Polka History

When people think of polka, their thoughts undoubtedly wander to men in lederhosen, skipping about with an accordion. However, the history behind the song and dance is much richer and eloquent than what it is often given credit for.

To give a dry definition, polka is termed as an energetic couple dance that originates in Bohemian culture. Often danced in 2/4 time, the moves are full of life, composed mostly of steps and hops full of the gypsy spirit. Polka history dates the style back to the Czech people, where it was a peasant dance first choreographed in Eastern Bohemia. In the now modern-day Czechoslovakia, it is still celebrated as an important part of culture and custom.

Many historians credit the dance back to Anna Slezak, a Bohemian girl who choreographed the steps in 1834. The ending choreography, that is still preserved today, is apparently a result of a monotonous Sunday afternoon, when Slezak was bored with nothing to do. Slezak danced around to a folk song, and the moves fit so perfectly, that the dance became timeless.

A few years later, a dance teacher based in Prague performed the polka in Paris and it caught on. Dance studios all over Europe began offering lessons in the new dance style, and even elitist ballerinas got in on the act.

Polka Expands the Dance World

Due to the popularity of the polka, many other new dances came out of 19th century Europe. However, none of them survived nearly as long as the polka, and the style still survives in certain circles today. While polka can be credited for greatly growing dance programs all over the world, it eventually began to take a negative hit when its popularity went downhill. The peppy dance style wasn't modern enough to compete with newer forms such as jazz dance, and polka began to fade away.

After World War II, Polish natives who had recently immigrated to America started a "polka revival" of sorts, claiming it as their former nation's official dance. New life was breathed into the choreography, and the trend continues on through today where fans of such celebrities as Lawrence Welk enjoy the dance along with the post-war music choices available.

Many dance historians agree the polka will continually live on due to its upbeat attitude. Everyone loves a good time, and polka history proves itself able to provide a happy dance style that is not only easy to learn, but fun to execute. In some areas of the nation, polka dance competitions are also popular.

Getting Involved

Do you want to learn how to polka? It is easier than you may think! Visit the United States Polka Association website to find out about polka conventions and events near you. While mostly geared toward the musical aspect of polka culture, they may also be able to refer you to polka dance studios in your area.

You can also visit your local library for books and great polka music CDs. Sites like Amazon also have a large selection of dance DVDs and CDs for you to purchase.

Polka History