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What Is a Group Dance?

Group dances are commonly performed at school dances.
Folk dances are often performed in a group.
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  • Written By: H. Bliss
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 19 October 2014
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Group dances are choreographed simultaneous dances designed to be performed in groups generally of three or more as a type of social dance. Choreographed group dancing is a common type of folk dancing in many regions and cultures. These types of dances are commonly performed at parties, school dances, and other group functions. Types of group dancing are many, but include square dancing, line dancing, and maypole dancing. Trendy dances that become a fad, like the Macarena, the Bunny Hop, and the Time Warp are also types of group dances.

Many times, a group dance can be choreographed from beginning to end. Choreographed group dances are seen frequently on television and in the movies, at sports events and pep rallies, as well as at the rare impromptu flash mob. A flash mob is a guerrilla performance group that performs choreographed group dances in public spaces, generally without permission from those in charge of the public space. This type of group dance usually organizes a performance costume theme, like pirates or zombies, or re-enacts a famous dance sequence, like the one in “Risky Business."

Group dance moves are often inspired by dance moves used in music videos, television shows and movies. The movie “Footloose" inspired a line dance designed to mimic the steps seen in the film. One popular line dance called “The Madison" comes from the film "Hairspray."

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Some choreographed dances become folk dances that people perform together for fun. One common example of this type of group dance is the line dance, which is a short, repetitive sequence of steps performed to music, usually country but sometimes disco. Some dances, like the Boot Scootin' Boogie and the Cotton-Eyed Joe, are performed to songs bearing the same names.

The use of the group dance at gatherings and celebrations is not only reserved for Western culture. A traditional type of Japanese ceremonial group dance is called the Bon dance. This dance is performed with special at the Bon festival, which is a festival to honor the dead. Many variations of Bon dance exist in each region of Japan.

Group dances are created and performed by people young and old. The youth culture in Japan has its own forms of group dance. Nightclub-goers in Japan often engage in a form of group dance they call Para-Para. These dancers, called paralists, perform synchronized pre-learned dance moves, mostly with the arms.

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