How to Do the Chicken Dance

Boy doing the chicken dance; © Nikolay Mamluke |

The Chicken Dance is popular at weddings, parties, and any other large gatherings. It's easy and lots of fun to learn. As long as you are having a good time, that's what matters most. Use these step instructions to learn the moves and then practice along with the help of an instructional video so you can be the master of the Chicken Dance.

Chicken Dance Steps

The first part of the Chicken Dance is done in repetitions of three until you do four claps at the end of the section.

Part One: The Chicken

To start, stand with your feet together. Lift your arms out to your sides at shoulder level, elbows bent at right angles, with your hands at ear level. Press your fingers and thumb together so that you can move them open and closed, like the beak of a chicken. Now you are ready to dance!

  • Make your chicken beak quickly open and close three times (count one, count two, count three). This will go right with the music
  • Tuck your thumbs into your armpits, pretend to hold onto suspender straps, or make fists and hold them in front of your shoulders with elbows pointed out to the side. Flap your elbows (chicken wings) three times (count one, count two, count three). This is also right with the music
  • Leave your hands where they are in wing position and wiggle your hips right, left, right (right count one, left count two, right count three) as you lower down toward the ground with your knees. It's just like doing the twist and you can go as low as you want, but most folks stop when their knees are at about 45 degrees. No need to grab a protractor, just do what is comfortable. You can also shuffle your heels with your hip action, right, left, right if you would like. For some people that happens naturally.
  • Quickly stand up straight and clap four times (count one, count two, count three, count four). There's that sneaky four you were warned about.

NOTE: The hand movements can also be done in a seated position so everyone can be involved in the action.

Repeat this sequence four times. Then it's on to the polka portion of the dance.

Part Two: Polka

The polka is a total of 32 counts. It is easiest to count in four sets of eight. Or just keep moving until the chicken part starts again. There are many ways you can do the polka, but here are the most popular variations for this dance.

  • Hook elbows with someone and skip in circles changing directions every eight counts although some like to stay going in one direction for the entire time.
  • You can hook elbows with a partner for eight counts and then switch to another partner for eight counts. Continue swapping until the chicken part of the dance begins again.
  • A larger group can all hold hands and skip in one direction for eight or 16 counts before changing directions (this is a great option for little kids or folks with less mobility).
  • You can skip on your own, either around the group or making your own small circle.
  • You can clap your hands and stomp your feet as you watch everyone spinning around.

After 32 counts, return to starting position and begin again with the chicken.

Do the Chicken

This dance is great fun and one that anyone can do, which is a big reason why it's so popular. Grandmas, grandpas, aunties, uncles, moms and dads, and kids of every age enjoy the Chicken Dance. Don't be surprised when you see people laughing and swinging and wiggling like crazy. Then again, that's the best part. Just watch out for wild elbows!

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How to Do the Chicken Dance