STEAM Learning Lab – Dances from Around the World

Dances from Around the World
All Ages

Dancing has been a favorite way for people to tell stories, express emotion, and get active since the beginnings of history. Join us as we learn about popular dances from all over the world.


Materials:

  • Open space to boogie

 

Directions:

The Peacock Dance (South East Asia) – Dancing has been around for millennia, and some of the oldest dances originate from Southeast Asia. While you may have seen a dragon or lion dance around Chinese New Year, several indigenous dances from the region mimic the movements and behavior of animals, and one of our favorites is the Peacock Dance. This dance mimics the grace of a peacock as it goes through life, so motions can include:

  1. First have the peacock “awake” in its nest.
  2. Search for food on the ground
  3. Bathe in a river and ruffle your feathers dry
  4. Strut your stuff (as peacocks often do)
  5. Flap your wings and fly away!

While humans may not be able to perfectly capture the elegance of a peacock, it sure is fun to try!

The Eskista (Ethiopia) – A lot of western dances focus on the movements of your feet and hips, but dancing is a full-body activity! You can see this in the Eskista, a dance from Ethiopia in East Africa. The Eskista, which translates to “Dancing Shoulders”, is all about shimmying and shaking your shoulders! These movements tell a story, like copying the bob of a slithering snake. While there are many ways to perform an Eskista, the most important thing is you are shaking those shoulders and having fun!

The Cumbia (Colombia & Central America) – So often when we think of cultural dances we think of them originating long ago. But new dances are invented every day as cultures change and mix. One dance, the cumbia, pulls from many cultures. Originating in Colombia, it began as a courtship dance for African slaves brought to the region by Spanish conquistadores. As influences from Latin America and Spain seeped into the tradition, we ended up with a simple, suave dance that is popular throughout the Americas! While, as with any dance, there are many different ways to perform a cumbia there is a basic “two-step” movement we can learn:

  1. Start with your feet shoulder’s width apart. This is base position.
  2. Step your right foot back and a bit in, then step back to base position.
  3. Step your left foot back and a bit in, the step back to base position
  4. Repeat! As you get the feet motion down, begin to move the arms and hips too, and you’ll be rocking the cumbia in no time!


More Fun

  • North America has its own dances too! From the dances of indigenous tribes like the Navajo to square and line dances of the pioneers, people here have their own way to groove too!
  • Have a favorite dance we didn’t include here? Let us know how you like to get down with your kids on Facebook!

 

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