dance technique - finding the even rhythm in music

Music for download - „Na piecu łoroł


The TEACHING METHODOLOGY OF NON-THEATRICAL POLISH TRADITIONAL DANCES that we propose here is an outcome of 25 years of workshop and educational work. What is important, this pedagogical experience was taking into account contemporary predispositions and skills of the generation of Poles, who were deprived of lively contact with traditional dance and music.

Our methodology encompasses dance lessons and exercises rooted in the natural mobility of our body and the activities of daily living that we perform. Hence, the methodology presented here is a key to mastering the basics of non-theatrical Polish traditional dance forms characterised by the even double meter (polka rhythms), as well as odd triple meters (e.g. mazurka rhythms). This methodology will help you feel and understand the rhythm. It will also help you move in tact with the rhythm, dance solo, dance in a couple and a group, dance around a circle and in a loose group. Following our lessons, you will also learn to spin in both the open and the closed arrangement.

In our system, the process of learning to dance – learning the steps of a given dance form, is supposed to go hand in hand with the process of learning and acquiring social attitudes, learning to interact with the partner, with whom the dance is being  performed and with other persons/couples that partake in the same dance event and share the same space-time as we do. We want traditional dance and music to be a pretext for an encounter with the other person, just as it used to be in the past.

Our dance tutorials are intended for viewers of all ages, both beginners and intermediate students, both amateurs and dance education professionals, who want to explore traditional dances in their non-theatrical forms as a new movement formula.

We hope that our project will fill in the gap and provide the viewers with easily accessible educational materials that present the methodology of teaching Polish traditional dances in their non-theatrical forms.

As far as the learning process is concerned, our dancing skills and the ability to move in sync with music, will be acquired through our acquaintance with the music. Getting to know the music you will dance to is essential – without it, our dance will be detached from its base and its rhythmical and melodic source.

Secondly, if you want to dance, knowing the steps of a given dance are not the only key to it. Of equal importance is the cosy and friendly atmosphere of the dancing event, which will provide you with a feeling of comfort, acceptance and safety. These elements will bring a feeling of relaxation in your body, triggering joy and good mood, which will make it easier for your to feel the rhythm, catch the beginning of the musical phrase, feel the pulse and catch the essential moment in the tact – the “ONE”. After all, dancing is not to be hard work but a pleasant form of entertainment, a leisure time spent in a nice atmosphere.

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In Polish traditional dances, even rhythms are very common, especially in the southern and eastern part of the country. Even meters, with a time signature of 2/4 or 4/4, can be found in krakowiaks, various types of polka, wiwats, okółkas, chodzone (waking dances), obyrtany dances and powolniaks (slow dances). We will focus on these dances in our first lesson.

We will show you several simple exercises designed especially for the practice of polka drobna (small step polka). However, we will perform them to the rhythm of other, more complicated polkas, krakowiaks, wiwats, powolniaks, okółkas or obyrtane. In this way, you will be able to find the rhythm, pulse, phrase and balance.

For those who are about to start their adventure with traditional dances, we suggest that you start by practising with the melody that has an even rhythm (such as the simple small step polka). The even rhythm is something we are well acquainted with thanks to contemporary pop music. So for starters, take any polka and practice it – you can find a number of them ready for download together with our video tutorials that you can find on

You can do this exercise on your own in a small room. You can also do it in a vast hall, together with other dancers. If you choose the latter option, you need to line up around a circle, facing the direction of the dance (with your back turned to the sun), i.e. counterclockwise. The circle created by the dancers may occasionally break up, so that separated individuals dance on their own.

After the circle created by the dancers breaks up, you are allowed to move in different  directions, both clockwise and counterclockwise. Such exercises are very useful and they will bring a lot of benefits. This simple exercise enhances your spatial awareness and the ability to move together with other dancers, adjusting your direction and pace to the dance “highwayʼs” traffic that changes all the time (in fact, learning to dance is a bit like learning to drive). Practising this will help you navigate during a real dance party, it will help you not to bump into other dancers and avoid colliding with others. 

In this film material we address the following issues:

- finding the ONE in a tact 

- finding the TWO in a tact

- a combination of ONE and TWO in a bar (two quarter notes)

- dividing the rhythm into quavers in one bar

- mixing quavers with quarter notes within one bar

- finding and using the right balance in the body (using body weight in dance)

- we will finally reach the basic step of polka, traditionally danced with a flat step.