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The Society of Folk Dance Historians (SFDH)

Basic Steps
The Taproot Dance

By Don Buskirk

YouTubes illustrating or amplifying the topic discussed are
available on Don's website ( https://folkdancefootnotes.org/ ).

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Basic Steps

If you could learn only one dance for the Balkans and Anatolia area, this would be it

There is a simple dance that is a staple in every country from India and Azerbaijan through Anatolia to Greece, the Balkans, Eastern Europe, and beyond – all the way to France. It has many names and variations but is almost always considered among the most ancient and widespread dances in its region, and it has the same basic six-count pattern everywhere:

{step, step, step, __, step, __}

The {__} can be a pause, a kick, a lift, a stamp, etc. The reason it's blank is because it's not a step – you don't transfer your weight into another foot during that beat.

Usually the second {step, __} is a mirror image of the first, so the dance becomes three steps Right (or forward), then {__}, then one step Left (or back), then {__}. I call it the Taproot Dance (T-6). Because of its six-count pattern, I also call it a T-6 to distinguish it from similar Taproot patterns with a different number of counts. Each area has its own name (or several names) for the Taproot T-6.

Adding or taking away one or more pairs steps leads to different lengths of basic steps, but the six-count core remains the same.

Laura Shannon has written a fascinating article detailing the links between these dances, and their connection to ancient pre-Christian symbols. Here are a few excerpts:

This pattern of three steps forward, one step back can also be seen as a metaphor for the year's seasonal cycle which requires us to rest in order to grow. There is a feeling of being held in all of these basic dances, as we travel, rock, rock; travel, rock, rock. We experience the sensation of moving ahead, yet savouring where we are. Just as with the year's cycle, we need to go through this over and over again in order to remain aware of the truth contained in this rhythm, the rhythm of life.

My theory is that from prehistory right up until the present day, people have continued to believe in the sanctity of nature and her life-giving cycles, and to express their appreciation of the miracle of life through a continuity of folk art motifs.

As we enter into the mystery of the dance, we cannot know what will be revealed. But we do know that the very act of approaching the ancient dance forms with reverence – as pilgrims on a journey – will bring us closer to our ancestors in the human family, and therefore, ultimately, to ourselves.

From "Simple Dances: Where Do They Come From, Where Do They Lead?" By Laura Shannon ©2011

Basic Steps – The Taproot Family

From Don Buskirk's website, Folkdance Footnotes.
Used with permission.

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