What is balfolk?
Balfolk is a dance form that consists of a collection of Western European dances. Such a balfolk dance evening is called a ball. A ball can be compared to a dance evening of tango or salsa, but with Western European music and dancing. There is always live music at the balls.
No partner needed
Balfolk involves both couple dances and group dances. You do not need a permanent partner. At a ball you can ask anyone to dance and you can be asked to dance by anyone. And sometimes you just dance together with the whole group.
Lessons and workshops
At a ball it’s all about dancing together. So having fun is more important than taking the right steps. At many events, including at CaDansa, a short workshop is given in advance for everyone who is completely new to balfolk. This means that everyone can participate. More advanced dancers certainly don’t have to be bored, there is room for variations and improvisation in every dance.
In the Netherlands you can also take lessons in various places or learn the dances during ‘socials’. These are open practice evenings. In addition, workshops are regularly given by experienced teachers from home and abroad to further explore the dances.
CaDansa also offers workshops, both for advanced dancers and beginners.
Making music together
The great thing about Balfolk is the interaction between musicians and dancers. Musicians play with the dancers, and the dancers play with the music. Musicians are often also dancers, and many dancers also make music. This benefits the danceability of the music.
After the performances there is sometimes an opportunity for musicians to play together in a session. Instruments are brought along to make music together and everyone is welcome to play along. The dancers can then continue dancing. The musicians who were on stage earlier in the evening regularly join in as well.
At CaDansa there is also room for session playing, and for enthusiasts there is also an open stage to perform your music in front of an audience.
Originally, the dances that are now danced at a ball were (and are) danced at weddings and village festivals in small villages in various places in Europe. In France, among other places, this part of culture is still alive and a lot of music is still made and danced. Nowadays there are also regular dance evenings and festivals that are not necessarily part of that (folk) tradition, but simply because it is fun to dance and make music. Dances from other countries have also been introduced, such as the Polska from Sweden. This has spread throughout Europe, where more and more young people are discovering dancing. Today, balfolk can be described as a vibrant tradition, with all kinds of influences from different music and dance movements.
There are many Dutch bands that play at balls, but also foreign ones. They often have a contemporary and opinionated view of traditions. Based on and inspired by traditional music and dances, young musicians create their own compositions.
Want to know more?
Do you have any questions or would you like to know more about balfolk outside of CaDansa in the Netherlands? Then take a look at www.balfolk.nl
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