Folk Art has been around as long as people have been around. It is one of those aspects of human history that most of us have no control over, but which still affects our lives in more ways than we think. How many times have you heard someone boast about their own particular brand of folk art? How often do you see or hear a friend wax lyrical about their particular collection of metal plates, China, and bowls? Or maybe tell you about an ancient bowl or pot that was unearthed in Mexico that is a definite example of folk art.
The earliest known material that today refers to folk art originated with early cave dwellers. artifacts as old as fifty thousand years ago were found with tools and evidences of their creators’ craftsmanship. Amazingly, these artifacts were found not on the floor of their quarries, but right on the ground! Old stone art also often includes animal statuettes and other human anatomy preserved in fine clay, all of which are the perfect vessels for holding a wide variety of human body parts.
There are two primary types of folk dance found throughout North America. The first, and most popular form, are the lope. This dance type is characterized by complex footwork and is often accompanied by song. Another, slightly less popular, type is the labanotation, which consists of two linked dances performed in front of a large mirror. These dances, or parts of them, are combined into a complex, foot-stomping routine that is then followed by a series of body movements that include a strolling dance, a series of spins, and a single leap or hop. Both forms share the goal of linking movement and rhythm with the beat of the drum, which is a defining characteristic of all labanotation dances.
While there are many different types of folk dances throughout the years, some of the most popular ones include: the waltz, the cha-cha, and the jig. The waltz, which is performed with the right hand and joined in the middle, is considered the “standard” folk dance throughout the United States. Cha-cha, on the other hand, originates from Mexico. It involves an intricate series of foot rolls, turns, and jumps. The jig is played with a stick, much like a sandpaper sledge, and is an easy dance to learn.
In our generation alone, there have been over three hundred documented recorded dances originated from the United States. Of those, over one hundred are considered the official dances of the United States. The list of official dance titles is kept at the United States Department of commerce.
Folk Art also includes many popular music performers who, along with their audiences, appreciate the dance floor manners. One such performer is Flo Rida. Rida, known professionally as Donavan Kelley, was raised in Puerto Rico and has become a household name in and out of the traditional dance floor. Her music, which is considered reggae style, has been covered by countless rap artists.
A great way to introduce your children to folk dance is to take them to a folk dance school. There are many private and public schools in every major city throughout the country. If you do not live in a large metropolitan area, you can find an affordable school by looking in the phone book or online. Most dance schools are willing to give a brief description of the dance style and the history behind it. This will give your children an idea of what they will be doing when they sign up.
Folk art is a wonderful genre to get into for all ages. It allows your children to experience the history of a culture and to be very artistic at the same time. This type of art has many different variations, from elaborate costumes and dances, to intricate beadwork and woodcarvings. There is something for everyone.