Wedding Dance Cultural Traditions

Weddings are steeped with traditions passed down from generation to generation or can represent the couple’s family background which they’d like to share with their friends and honor their heritage. This includes wedding dances which play a vital part of the wedding. Even in modern day weddings, couples include traditional dances to pay homage to their age old customs and traditions.

A large portion of guests are not familiar with most dance customs other cultures practice during the reception part of the wedding. Here’s an overview of a few cultures.

Jewish Wedding Dances – Hora
Usually danced to the song “Hava Nagila” or a compilation of energetic traditional music, the Hora is a popular dance form conducted practically at every Jewish wedding. The bride and groom, while each sitting on chairs, are lifted above the shoulders of the guests. The couple may wave a handkerchief to each other or hold the ends of a single handkerchief. A wide circle of guests is formed around the couple, dancing clockwise and counterclockwise.

The foot movements include kicks and grape-vine like steps, which can be accompanied by bobbing and weaving as well. The circle of friends and family often alternate between a large loose circle and coming in close to the couple and out again.

Greek Wedding Dances

There are four Greek dances you’ll most likely encounter at a Greek wedding.

A lively, 12 step open circle dance. This is usually the first dance to occur at celebrations, particularly in Greek communities outside Greece. If you feel intimidated at first sight of the dance, you have plenty to time to get comfortable with the steps since the bands often play 15 to 20 minute marathons of this music.

Also an open circle dance, but by contrast is much slower. The circle follows a simple 12 step routine while the person leading the circle performs various tricks. Though this dance is not very fast paced, it is a touch experience for the leader, especially if it’s an older woman or gentleman.

Perfect for anybody uncomfortable with choreography of the previously two dances, this dance is the Greek version of belly dancing and involves just wiggling their hips.

Performed at the end of the night, it is also known as the “Drunken man’s” dance because the swaggering, off-balance movement resembles the characteristics of a drunken man. It’s a freestyle dance which can be done solo or with a partner and you’ll likely see several participants kneeling and clapping around the dancers, then trading off with them once they’ve finished their dance.

Polish Wedding Dance
Pani Mloda
This is also known as the Bridal or Apron Dance. The bride will wrap a Polish wedding apron around her dress, signifying the end of her innocence and the beginning of her wifely and motherly duties. She then dance in a short spin from one guest to another. As each guest dances with the bride, the guests pin money to her apron or drop into one of the pockets. The last person to dance with her will be the groom. As the dance concludes, he will toss his wallet into an apron pocket and the bride and groom make their grand exit. This traditional is a fun and festive way to see the newlyweds off.

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