The furlana (also spelled furlane, forlane, friulana, forlana) is an Italian folk dance from the Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia. In Friulian, furlane means Friulian, in this case Friulian Dance. In Friuli there has been a Slav minority since the Slavic settlement of the Eastern Alps (Maniacco 2002, 56), and the furlana may well have originated as a Slavonic dance. It dates at least to 1583, when a "ballo furlano" called L'arboscello was published in Pierre Phalèse the Younger’s Chorearum molliorum collectanea and in Jakob Paix’s organ tablature book, though its chief popularity extended from the late 1690s to about 1750. It is particularly associated with Venice because, at the time of its popularity, Friuli was a part of the Republic of Venice (Little 2001).
The furlana is a fast dance, in duple-time 6/8, though one exceptional example proves to be in quintuple meter, underlining the Slavonic associations also suggested by its title, Polesana, which in Italian can mean "a woman from Pola" (a city in Istria, neighbouring Friuli and a part of Italy until 1947), or may be from the Croatian word "polesa", meaning "rural", or "from the back woods" (Heartz 1999, 145–46). Originally the furlana was a courtship dance, performed by a couple. It was introduced to France by André Campra in 1697 (in L'Europe galante) and 1699 (in Le carnaval de Venise, in which the first of two furlanas serves as a dance entry for a troupe of Slavs, Armenians, and Gypsies), and it quickly became a popular theatre and social dance there (Little 2001).
Pietro Paolo Melii (active first quarter of the 17th century) included a "Furlain volta alla Francese detta la Schapigliata" in his Intavolatura di Liuto attiorbato, e di Tiorba. Libro Quinto (Venice, 1620). The piece is written almost entirely in running eighths, and, as so many of Melii's pieces, makes considerable use of syncopation. François Couperin closed the fourth of his Concerts royaux with a forlane. Johann Sebastian Bach incorporated a forlane in his first orchestral suite. Maurice Ravel recalled the baroque usage in his piano suite Le Tombeau de Couperin, though his Forlane is a rather plaintive piece in moderate time. Another forlane occurs at the end of Ernest Chausson's piano suite Quelques Danses (Some Dances)—this one far livelier and featuring an alternation between triple and sextuple rhythms. The fourth movement of Gerald Finzi's Five Bagatelles (Op. 23) is a forlana.
- Heartz, Daniel. 1999. "A Venetian Dancing Master Teaches the Forlana: Lambranzi's Balli teatrali". Journal of Musicology 17, no. 1 (Winter):136–51.
- Little, Meredith Ellis. 2001. "Forlana [furlana]". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, second edition, edited by Stanley Sadie and John Tyrrell. London: Macmillan Publishers.
- Maniacco, Tito. 2002. Storia del Friuli: il lavoro dei campi, la tradizione gastronomica, le radici della cultura contadina, le rivolte, il dramma dell'emigrazione e la nascita dell'identità di una regione. Tradizioni italiane 17. Rome: Newton & Compton Editori. ISBN 88-8289-706-0.