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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Balfolk (from French: Bal Folk, meaning a folk ball) is a dance event for folk dance and folk music in a number of European countries, mainly in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland. It is also known as folk bal.

Bal deus DEM de Tolosa - Trad'envie 2015


Dancing to folk music has been gaining popularity since the 1970s. The traditional dances come primarily from the French tradition, with additions from all parts of Europe.

There are numerous organizations that organize such dance events monthly and at many folk festivals there are both concerts and dances.[1] You find adverts for dances, bals, sessions workshops and much more in your area by consulting the online Agenda Trad Calendar which covers France, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Switzerland[2]

In France some villages have their own annual folk festival.

In Flanders, Boombal is the biggest organization for the popularization of bal folk. Their influence is so great that in Ghent, Boombals city of origin, the term Boombal is more known than the term bal folk.[citation needed]

Although there are similarities, the dances of bal folk are not the same as dances danced by traditional folk dance groups.

  1. Traditional folk dances have more extensive choreographies and may be danced with traditional clothing. The preservation and/or presentation of a tradition is important here. Music is sometimes played live, sometimes pre-recorded. The audience may sit down and watch the dancers perform their formal choreographies or they may be presented as cultural displays at festivals and village fetes. These are essentailly historical re-enactments, and typically what most of the public think of as "Folk dancing" in countries like France, where the public might only be exposed to folk dancing at the village fete.
  2. BalFolk dances are quite different. They are audience participation events, based on simple traditional dances, gathered from all over Europe, that have easy basic steps, so that everyone can easily get involved. Refined movements are not the main concern, participation and fun are the main aim, and improvisation is more common. Music is played by live bands that either play "traditional" tunes, collected from players over the years, or they may play new compositions for BalFolk dancing. The audience is on the dance floor, dancing to the live music.

Parts of a Balfolk[edit]

  1. Initiation / Dance Workshop: A Balfolk may include one or more workshops for Beginners or intermediates shortly before the real Bal commences. Often the workshops are also accompanied by live music.
  2. Bal: One or more Folk musicians or Folk music groups play for dancing. Unlike some other dancing events, it is unusual to dance with a permanent dance partner. One of the characteristics of Balfolk is that the participants range from the very young to the very old.
  3. Jam: after certain bals, dancers who brought an instrument sit in the middle of the dance floor and play tunes for the dancers.

Common dances[edit]

The types of dance which are commonly included during such a session:


  1. ^ "French Routes". www.frenchdanceleeds.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 December 2004. Retrieved 13 January 2022.
  2. ^ "Calendrier de musique et danse folk : Nouvelle-Aquitaine". agendatrad.org (in French). 2024-01-20. Retrieved 2024-01-20.


  • Yves Guilcher, La danse traditionelle en France: d´une ancienne civilisation paysanne à loisir revivaliste, Librairie de la Danse, FAMDT, 1998 Courlay
  • Karsten Evers and Ulrike Frydrych: Französische Volkstänze, Volume 1 to 3, Hildesheim and Eiterfeld, 1982, 1983 and 1987. Dance descriptions (in German), sheet music and audios. Download

External links[edit]