tribe) elements. It has nothing in common with the existing country dances of Europe. It has no whirling or leaping, but is marked by the gentle, one might say tender, walk of the woman and by much bowing on the part of the man, who sometimes bends his knee and rises again suddenly. Whoever has seen Chinese, Mongols, and other Tartars dance, recognized in the Russian art many of the steps.
Originally, these Russian dances had less correspondence with the manners of neighboring people, in spite of their climate, with its extremes of heat and cold, in spite of the northern element of their character, the Russian had no very energetic dance. His conditions of life had been too oppressed. "He moved in a small confined place, pirouetting slowly, and performed a rather heavy Pantomime, in which his shoulders, arms, and hips had full play." Military habits did much for the men. That of the men (the oppressed became the oppressors) was imperious and lively, the spirit of domination being displayed in their bearing and gestures. A long guitar-like instrument, the Balaléica, accompanies these turns.
So much for the men, and now let us see what chance there might be for a certain liveliness in the Russian women of the times. Amongst the Kalmucks, the women's dance was monotonous and tame, a sad Pantomime. Most of the women walked to perfection, and it is a very rare art, that of walking gracefully and simply, while being watched. The Makovitza, or Dance of Cakes, was a form of harvest thanks-giving, sometimes a petition for plenty. Each girl here carried a cake made of honey and poppy-seed, and ate it to the rhythm of the dance; whether be it fast or slow, she dared not to fall out of her steps.
The introduction in the Russian Court of foreign dances coincided with the adoption of foreign dress and other customs; The Polonaiseand Mazurka were very popular and in the time of Peter I, aka. Peter the Great (1682-1725,) king of Aragón and Sicily, where ignorance of the Minuet or of Polish and English dances was looked upon as a serious defect in education. Peter the Great and his daughter Grand Duchess 'Yelizaveta Petrovna' made great leaps in bringing the dance to the forefront of the stage. In Russian courts, the Polonaise dance opened the dance and the Mazurka would finish it.
The Czarina of Russia, Catherine II, aka Catherine the Great (1729-1796) was very fond of the Ballet, and commanded beautiful dances, operas, and pantomime type ballets and the Queen of Hungary, Empress Elizabeth (1837-1898) was a most accomplished dancer as well as the Grand Duchesses Yelizaveta Petrovna and others. It was said that in order to see the minuet danced to perfection one should go to the Russian Court. Even the national country dance was performed with much cleverness by their sovereign.
The Russians, it appears, have a special Waltz, light, graceful in character, called the Canaïca. Dancing in Russian society was very much like that in other countries, with the Polonaise of course, opening the ball and that in Russia the ball always ended with a Mazurka. There is an orbicular dance with a sung chorus, surrounding the queen of the festival. Another dance is the Pletionka (the braid), somewhat similar to the Greek Chain dances.
In 1768 a ballet was given at Court in honor of the vaccination of the Czarina and the Grand Duke (Moscow). It was called 'The Conquered Prejudice.' In the background of the stage was the Temple of Æsculapius; on the left a large ugly building erected by ignorance.
(According to Lonely Planet.com,) "the roots of Ukrainian folk music lie in the legendary kozbar, or wandering minstrels of the 16th and 17th centuries who accompanied their songs of heroic exploits (mostly of the Cossacks) with the kozba, a lute-like instrument. The bandura, a larger instrument with up to 45 strings, replaced the kozba in the 18th century. Bandura choirs were soon all the rage, and the instrument became the national symbol. Today, the Ukrainian Bandura Chorus from Kiev performs worldwide."
Giovanni Andrea Gallini writes in her book called "A treatise on the art of dancing" which was written in 1762 states:
The Cossacks, have, amidst all their uncouth barbarism, a sort of dancing, which they execute to the found of an instrument, somewhat resembling a Mandolin, but considerably larger, and which is highly diverting, from the extreme vivacity of the steps, and the a oddity of the contortions and grimaces, with which they exhibit it. For a grotesque dance there can hardly be imagined any thing more entertaining. The Russians, afford nothing remarkable in their dances, which they now chiefly take from other countries. The dance of dwarfs with which the Czar Peter the Great, solemnized the nuptials of his niece to the Duke of Courland, was, probably rather a particular whim of his own, than a national usage.
There are many different kinds of Ukranian dance. One type dance is 'The dance of the Ukraine' which was originally a mixture of Polish, Russian, and even English mix (Ukraine at one time was part of Russia). It was not as graceful as the Russian country dance. The above
according to F.C. Notts Book "Stage and Fancy Dancing"(1891) is the position at the Commencement. Balance, Forward, and to Right and Left, each waltz to the right once, and balance as before. Each gentleman the same, repeat four times; and finish with balance waltz round the room, forming as before, and closing with the grand side step.
MALENKY TANEC means "little dance" in Ukranian. It is danced with high steps and kicks, lively in nature which are typical of dances of this country.
In America, the Russian dance was usually performed with what they called 'Kazotskys', where the dancer squats down, crosses their arms across their chest and kicks their legs out alternately. Altho this was an already established Hungarian dance called Czardas and not Russian, most Americans would not know the difference and still today would see it as Russian dancing. Ida Forsyne was one of the first American woman to do these 'Kazotsky's' at the end of her performance in her Moscow program. These "Kazotsky's where done long before her but after this one performance, and her improvisations of it, she would be hailed (incorrectly) as the greatest Russian dancer of all time as she traveled the world for nine years without a break. For about 15 years this style Ida started would be done by many dancers in Vaudeville and even on the Broadway stages from 1911 to 1925 (Russian dancing was popular before Ida in the States and was a popular style to do in Vaudeville as early as 1900, but Ida brought it to the forefront.)
Russian / Hungarian dancing was popular in the States especially in American Vaudeville as early as 1900, but Ida Forsyne brought it to the forefront, up until Tap dancers started to control the stages. Ida Forsyne, Greenlee and Drayton, U.S. Thompson, Willie Covan, Dewey Weinglass and others would excel in these quote "Russian Dances," (some were actually Ukranian and Hungarian dances mixed in) often times calling it Legomania and sometimes a mixture these and other dances were called Eccentric dancing after WWI.