RSS
A A
Translator Plugin
RSS

Polka

Polka—

4 beats/measure, 60 measures/minute, a fast Two Step

There is some evidence that in 1822, a Czechoslovakian poet named Celakovsky wrote a dance named the “Cracoviacs” that was almost identical to the Polka (Giordano, vol. 1, p.168, 2007), but the popular story is that in 1830, Anna Slezak, a little girl of Bohemia, was humming, and skipping to her tune, when a local schoolmaster happened by and wrote down the tune and the steps. The other village girls learned the “dance,” and soon it was being danced in Prague, where they called it the Polka, from the Bohemian pulka, which means half, and refers to the half step or closing step that was part of the major figure. Yet another story makes it a Czech servant girl, Anna Chadimova, but the Polka was being danced in Vienna in 1839, in Paris in 1840, in London in 1843. In the United States, Professor L. De. G. Brookes, ballet master at the National Theater, NY, and Miss Mary Ann Gammon danced the Polka in May, 1844. It was one of the first of the “round” dances.”

For a time, the Polka was extremely popular, even a craze. In 1844, the dancing master Coulon reported on a ball given by the Duke of Wellington in honor of Queen Victoria’s birthday:

The Polka furore rose to such a pitch as to be danced, we are told, six times during the evening. Now this will not do. In our opinion the Polka, as an addition to the various amusements of a ball, stands certainly without parallel: still it ought by no means to detract from the usual amusements by superseding all other dances. (quoted in Clarke & Crisp, 1981)

The Johann Strausses, elder and younger, are well known for their Waltzes, but they wrote wonderful Polkas, too, with “the intimacy of the waltz and the vivacity of the Irish jig.” (Illustrated London News, 1844).

Today, we Polka in our Two Step rhythm. It is fast and skipping, with lots of turning and even childish joy. The first round dance Polka that Meredith and I learned was Street Fair, a phase II Two Step, written by Merola in 1972.

(For additional figures, see the Two Step page.)

Figure Name, Roundalab Phase Level, & Timing

q=quick, 1 beat
s=slow, 2 beats
&=1/2 beat; a=1/4 beat

Steps and Actions That Make Up the Figure

Each description focuses on the man, with the woman’s footwork in parenthesis. If a woman’s step is not given, it is the natural opposite or follow of the man’s. Help: basic dance positions and steps, actions, directions, and abbreviations. Non-standard punctuation: a comma separates two beats of music, a semi-colon marks the end of a measure, and a slash (/) indicates a split beat, two things occurring in a single beat.

Here are some sequences to help you visualize the figure in context.
Basicqqs; In semi-closed position, step forward on the lead foot, close trail foot to lead, step forward on lead again. Does it feel like a child skipping? The polka really has a little hop in it, too, either fwd, cl, fwd, hop; or hop/fwd, cl, fwd, -; Repeat with trail foot free for a Two Forward Two-Steps (see below).The old-time Heel and Toe Polka went: heel, -, toe, -; step, close, step, -; repeat with trail foot;; (ss; qqs;)The Glide Polka went: slide left, -, close, -; left, close, left, -; Of course, the lady begins with the right.

In the Kropfs’ Happy Time Polka, part A begins in varsouvienna, lead feet free, with a heel, cross lead in front of trail, fwd L (woman R)/ close R, fwd L; then right heel, XRIF, fwd R/cl L, fwd R;

Walk Twoss; In any position beginning with either foot fwd, -, fwd, -;You can curve the path and walk away from each other. You can solo “roll” if you step fwd, release your partner, and turn 1/2, and then step back and turn 1/2 again. Street Fair begins in butterfly position with a roll two; walk two; two forward two-steps;; and two turning two-steps;;
The Squareqqqq; qqqq; qqqq; qqqq; In half open position facing LOD, step fwd L (woman fwd R), fwd R, fwd L, fwd R turning sharply 1/4 LF (W 1/4 RF); fwd L, R, L, R toward COH turning 1/4 LF (W toward wall and turning 1/4 RF); fwd L, R, L, R toward RLOD turning 1/4 LF (W turning 1/4 RF); fwd L, R, L, R toward wall (W toward COH) blending to a designated position; In Pas the Bananas by the Scotts, there is 2 slow side closes; 2 turning triples; the square;;;; slow rock side recover cross twice;; to an open vine 8;;
Run Fourqqqq; in any position beginning with either foot fwd, fwd, fwd, fwd; Try a walk two down line; run four; step kick; turn and walk to reverse; run four; step kick and turn back to line;
Side Close; Out Two-Step; Side Close; In Two-Step;ss; qqs; ss; qqs; In closed position, line of dance, step side on lead foot turning RF, -, cl in SCAR, -; fwd, cl, fwd diag wall, -; sd, -, cl to BJO, -; fwd, cl, fwd diag cntr, -;
Scissorsqqs; qqs; In closed line, step sd turning rf, cl, xif woman xib to scar, -; sd turning lf, cl, xif to bjo, -;
Pickups In semi position line of dance, step fwd with trail feet, woman turning LF 1/2 to face man; end in closed position line of dance. In semi-closed position, lead feet free, try a forward, pickup; and a triple; forward two; and a triple;
Two Forward Two-Stepsqqs; qqs; In semi-closed pos fcg line, step fwd, cl, fwd, -; fwd, cl, fwd, -; Lefeavers’ Merry Christmas Polka starts part C with two forward two-steps; twirl two; walk two to butterfly; heel, -, toe, -; side two-step; toe, -, heel, -; cross, side, cross, -;
Away and Togetherqqs; qqs; In semi-closed pos fcg line, step fwd turning away, sd, cl, -; fwd and face, sd, cl, -; Lefeavers’ Merry Christmas Polka has a back two step; back sd fwd to open position; balance away and together;; away lady turn right to face;; wheel;;;
Two Turning Two-Stepsqqs; qqs; In closed position, step sd, cl, fwd turning 1/2 to face cntr, -; repeat to face wall again; alternate two forward, two turning . . .
Circle Away and Togetherqqs; qqs; In a facing position, turn away and step fwd, cl, fwd trning LF (W RF), -; fwd trn, cl, fwd to face, -;You are dancing a two-step away from each other, man toward center of hall and woman toward wall, and then a two-step back toward each other.
Circle Away Two and a Two-Step Together Two and a Two-Stepss; qqs; ss; qqs; From semi position, turn away from each other and step fwd, -, fwd, -; fwd, cl, fwd, -; lunge on trail feet turn LF woman RF, -, fwd back toward partner, -; fwd, cl, fwd to closed, -;
Circle Away Two Triples Strut Together Fourqqs; qqs; ss; ss; From semi position, turn away from each other fwd, cl, fwd, -; fwd, cl, fwd turning LF woman RF to face, -; step fwd back toward partner body erect shoulders back, -, fwd, -; fwd sway upper body, -, fwd to closed, -;
Face to Face and Back to Backqqs; qqs; In bfly pos facing wall, step sd, cl, sd turn away 1/2, -; sd, cl, sd turn to face, -; Street Fair ends with four of these in a row;;;;;;;; and then a side, XIB she twirls RF under lead arm, step apart, point;
Viness; ss; In bfly pos facing wall, step sd, -, XIB, -; sd, -, XIF -; You can vine again for a Vine 8.In the Kropfs’ Polka Medley, we walk two in open position fwd two-step; again; vine apart 2 and side two-step; vine together 2 side two-step to butterfly wall; traveling door both ways;;
Twisty Viness; ss; In bfly pos facing wall, step sd turning RF, -, XIB (W XIF) to momentary sidecar, -; sd turning LF, -, XIF (W XIB) to banjo, -;
Strolling Viness; qqs; ss; qqs; In closed pos fcg line, step sd turning RF to scar diag wall,-, XIB woman XIF turning LF back to line, -; sd turning LF, cl, sd to diag cntr, -; sd, -, xib, -; sd, cl, sd turning back to diag wall, -; Lefeavers’ Merry Christmas Polka has a strolling vine as an interlude, then he does two turning two-steps;; face to face;
Scootqqqq; In semi-closed pos, step fwd, cl, fwd, cl; with a “scooping down and up action.
Basketball Turnss; ss; In open position, lunge fwd on lead feet, turning to face partner, and pat lead hands. Recover on trail feet, turning to reverse, lunge to reverse turning away from partner, and recover to open position line of dance (does not travel; trail foot stays in one spot). circle away and together
Lace Upqqs; qqs; qqs; qqs; In semi-closed position, line of dance, step fwd and lead lady across in front of you with lead hands, close, and step fwd, -; fwd with lady to man’s left, cl, fwd, -; fwd and lead lady with trail hands back in front to man’s right, cl, fwd, -; fwd in semi, cl, fwd, -; In Scherrers’ Anthony Boy Polka, part B begins with a lace across & fwd two-step;; fwd two-step; face, -, stamp, -; to reverse line of dance lace across & fwd two-step;; fwd two-step; face & stamp; to a traveling door twice;;;;