Sonny Watson's Homepage
Ballrooms | Burlesque | Contests | Dances | Dancers | Marathons | Movies | Posters | Sheet Music | Troupes | Refresh
INDEX HomePage
Music Lists:Contemporary WCS|Trad'l WCS|C/W Swing|Big Band|Disco|Gospel|Holiday|Hustle|Late Night|Latin|Latin WCS|Mash-Ups|NC2S|Techno
You Are here: Search Streetswing Site Site Search --->

The Polka Dancers - dance history origins archives
Waltz Dance History
Dance History Archives

Other Lists

Swing Dance Films List
Music List Text Index
Dance Music MP3 Lists
Music: Streetswing Store

DJ Equipment

DJ: Amps etc.
DJ: Cables/Access
DJ: Cases
DJ: CD Players
DJ: Laptops-Notebooks
DJ: Main Page
DJ: Mics-Headphones
DJ: Mixers
DJ: Packages
DJ: (Portable) Hard Disks
DJ: Software/Books
DJ: Speakers
DJ: Turntables

Search Sheet Music Plus

Search Google

Dance Store

Computers/ Laptops
Dance Books
Dance Exercise Videos
Dance Stuff for Kids
Dance Movies
Dance Music
Dance Posters
Dance Shoes
Misc Dance Videos
Movie Musicals
Stage Musicals
Streetswing Store
Swing Dance Movies

General Main Index

Dance History Archives
Sonny's Schedule
Sonnys Lesson Video's
VSDC Club Dances
WCS Dance Events

Upgrade to the most current version of Firefox Browser (This site works best with Firefox)
The Polka More Photo's

    The main story of the Polka comes from a story of Bohémia (at the time a part of CZ.) and was supposedly discovered by Joseph Neruba in 1830 who introduced it in 1835 (fewer say Joseph Cellarius did this.) It is said that Mr. Neruba saw a little Bohémian peasant girl dance (some say age 16) by the name of *Anna Chadimová-Slezak, who was born in Elbeteinitz in 1805 (d.1884,) and lived in Konotopy (or *Kostelec) on the Elbe (Elbeteinitz, Bohémia). (Note: dates would make her 25-30 years old).

     In 1830, Anna was dancing and singing to a tune she liked called "Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla" and invented a little dance which she called "the Madera." Seeing the possibilities of the dance and the possibility of money, Neruba, liking what he saw asked her to repeat the dance for him and took it to Prague in 1835, it was here the "Madera" was supposedly dubbed the Pulka (meaning a half,) and later on went to Vienna in 1839 by a music band from Prague under the leadership of Pergier. In 1840 J. Raal, (a.k.a.: Raab, Baab) a dancing master of Prague danced it at the Odéon Theater and made it a huge success.

    The Polka was the second "closed position" couples dance to be introduced to the world, with the first being the Waltz. The word Polka (Pulka ) is Czech meaning "Half-Step" pertaining to the quick movement from one foot to the other. The polka and other dances that followed were spin-offs of the waltz. The polka began to rival the waltz about 1835.

   "The Polka (Polka Tremblante) was later introduced into the ballrooms of France and England in 1843 by Cellarius, and led to the inauguration of the present style of round dancing. It had been in vogue but a short time on the other side of the Atlantic, when a musical and theatrical gentleman, named "De Their," forwarded the music, and a description of the dance, in manuscript, to the proprietor of the New York Daily Aurora, of which paper he was a correspondent. Mr. Thaddeus W. Meighan, a gentleman connected with the editorial department of that paper, presented Prof. L. De. G. Brookes, who was ballet-master at the "National Theatre," on Chatham Street in New York at that time, with the music and a description of the dance. It was first danced in America by Miss Mary Ann Gammon and L.G. Brookes at that Theatre, on May 10, 1844. Mr. Allen Dodsworth, reportedly introduced this dance to his pupils in 1845 (dancing and it's relations to education and social life-Dodsworth-1895).

     The Czech "Pulka" was also an instant hit. The "Illustrated London News" in 1844 reported the first Polka being done in London at Almacks Dance Hall. Fanny Cerrito and Arthur Saint Léon were avid dancers and performers of the Redowa (a 3⁄4 time Polka) and introduced it to the Italian's in 1845. (Neruba's later appeared in print in 1870, Published by Helmer, supposedly as the first polka.)

     The Polka however is traced all the way back to 1822 in Czech, by a poet named Celakovsky, who had translated (of his tongue), the dances at the time, with one being the Cracoviacs (Poland), which at the time was exactly like the Polka. One of the title's of the songs he reported was "The Polish Maiden" which was probably named in honor of the Poles which would have given rise to the possibly now SEMI-fictional Bohémian girl story above.

    The polka originally only had ten figures but as time went on that did expand. The polka and Redowa were sometimes confused as the same dance often times. The Polish-Americans have even adopted the polka as their national dance. By 1860 the "frantic hopping" done originally in the Polka was calmed down to a subtle "rising and falling" and the flinging of the feet were much less obvious. This calming of the Polka is credited to France btw.

     There are many variations of the Polka, such as the Heel and Toe Polka, Princess Marie Nicolaewnais credited with creating the Polka-Mazur (Polka-Mazurka ) in 1830 which was basically a waltz. Polka-Waltz, Pulka (1840), Polka-Valse, Scottische-Polka, Polka-Redowa (a SLOW POLKA) introduced in 1852 and done to Redowa music, Polka-Coquette (c.1860), etc. (and as you can figure out they were a mixture of the dances named.) Later on, the Castles would "invent" a dance called the "Half & Half," which was one half of one dance and half another, (guess they figured it out.) The Berlin dance was a mix of the Polka and Galop dances.

    In the language of the Bohemians the word "Rejdovat" means to push, to and fro. This term is applied to the "Pursuit" in the round dances (such as the waltz,) where the follower is pushed along the line of dance. In Zorn's book he recommends a "figure" (pattern) change every four measures.

     This change of figures was named the Redowa (3⁄4 time) in southern Germany in 1830. The Redowa was known as the "Hunter Schottische" or Polka by "Neufchatel Hunters" (Berlin's Military) in certain countries like Berlin. The Polka was known as the "Schottische waltz" by 1840 in Germany. The Polka-Redowa is the same as the Polka, except that the pause of the Polka is omitted, and in dancing you count three for both the music and the dance.

     Another dance, similar to the polka was the Galop (1815) or Gallopade which was introduced to England and France about 1829. The Polka is also said to be a descendent of the sixteenth century Court dance called the Bourrée of Avergneé. The Polka-Coquette was very much en vogue about 1860. The Esmerelda was basically a polka with two additional slides.

     An interesting side note is that Henri Celarius states in his book "La Danse des Salons" (Drawing Room Dances) published in 1847 that:
"We have now to treat of one of the oldest and most popular of modern dances, the polka, which in spite of its foreign origin may now be considered as French, for it is to France that it owes it's fashion and character of universality".... (It sounds like he knew that this was a much older dance, only 17 years old, however he called it a modern dance?).

    With all that said ... The most likely source is it just evolved quickly over time by the Waltz dancers or teachers of the day who would sooner or later try to dance Waltz patterns to polka music for many different reasons. The dancers who were experimenting with this new Waltz dance would invariably try the Waltz to other forms of music, (just like dancers do today) as back then there were no other prior forms of closed position couples dancing to draw upon. Think about it; The waltz is all the rage, polka music is played at the dance and the Waltzers just keep waltzing to polka music (and later other music forms,) easy enough to figure out and over time the Leaping, Lifting and Hoping were taken out of the original Waltz form and you now have two distinct and different styles of dance. Which we can see from all the mixtures of other dance styles mixing together of the day like the before mentioned 'Polka-Mazur, Valse-Polka' etc. Then later someone had to ask "Well where is this dance from, who invented it ... blah, blah, blah. Or a dancer trying to cash in would pronounce ... "Here we have today ... the newest dance from Poland ... that all of France is clamoring for ... "the Polka" and I, being the main exponent of this dance will now show you how, bla-blah-blah." Just like for a while, anything from France was all the rage, made up or not and sold to the public. However, this was most likely done first in or probably more to be credited to Poland as musically based and they ran with it ... very similar to Salsa & Bossa Nova history and others.

    Anyway, whoever and whatever, the Polka is a simple dance that is very fun to do and the music is happy. There can be many pretzel type patterns or just a simple German style of a Clockwise revolving Hop-2-3--Hop-2-3 stepping around the floor. So the next time you hear of a "Brewfest," or go to a Restaurant with a "Omp-Pah" polka band, give it a try, you'll have a lot of fun!.

    1) During the Polka, there really is no "LOD" (line of dance,) is generally Counter-Clockwise... but ... you go where you can to avoid the other couples.
    2) Mr. Polkos of the "Polkos Rebellion," Vera Cruz, Mexico (1840's) the rebellion was supposedly named after the Polka and not Polkos.

Birth Place

Creation Date


Dance Type

Czech 1822 Celakovsky Folk dance / Ballroom
2/4 Time Signature

Sheet Music Covers


Music Titles

1850 - Dodsworth Polka Free Song Sample A Hunter from Kurpfalz (Ein Jäger aus Kurpfalz) [mp3]
1850 - MT Vernon Polka Free Song Sample Beer Barrel Polka [mp3]
1850 - Serious Family Polka Free Song Sample Bon Bon Polka (1898) [mp3]
1850 - Sparkling Polka Free Song Sample Circus Polka [mp3]
1850s - La Californiene Free Song Sample Country Girl Polka [mp3]
1850s - Topsy's Polka Free Song Sample Fat Girl Polka
1855 - Polka Brilliante Free Song Sample Hunter Polka (Lesacka) [mp3]
1900 - Bohemian Girl (Balfe) Free Song Sample Jim Crow's Polka
1924 - Sonia Polish Dance Free Song Sample Pennsylvania Polka [mp3]
Free Song Sample Polish Dance (1905) [mp3]
Free Song Sample Polka Dot Polka [mp3]
Free Song Sample Polka Flirtation (Polskie Za loty)

Polka CD's

Free Song Sample Redowa ... A Bohemian Dance [mp3]
16 Most Requested Polkas [CD] Free Song Sample Susie (Zuzana)
Greatest Polka Hits [CD] ** PLEASE DESCRIBE THIS IMAGE ** Strip Polka [mp3]
Polka Party with Frank Yankovic and Friends [CD] Free Song Sample Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla
World's Greatest Polkas (Lawrence Welk) [CD] Free Song Sample The Bohemian Girl (1843 Balfe)
Free Song Sample The Bohemian Girl (1877 Bunn)
Free Song Sample Bohemian Girl (Galop) [mp3]
Free Song Sample Tyrolienne (there are many by different names)
Free Song Sample We Will Drink Together (Reinlander) Victory Polka [mp3]
Free Song Sample Jeszcze Polska ... (The Polish National Anthem) [mp3]

Night Clubs


Popular Locations

1844 - Almacks (London) 1844 - Chatham Theater - USA Bohemia
1844 - Vauxhall (London) 1844 - Palmos Opera House Czech.
1845 - Cremorne (London) Niblos Gardens - NY. Getschin, Bohemia
1840's - Argyll Rooms (London) 1845 - Vauxhall Gardens Germany
1844 - The Prado (Paris) 1843 - Drury Lane Theater (Bohemian Girl) Kostelec
1845 - The Valentino (Paris) 1845 - Buckingham Palace (Queen Victoria) Labska Tynice
1840's - The Ranelagh (Paris) 4/11/1845 -Her Majesty's Theater - London (Grisi & Perrot) United States
1840's - The Chaumiere (Paris)
1840's - Jardin de Mabille (Paris)
1844 - Palmos Opera House
1877 - Adelphi Theatre

Films / Movies

Ballets / Stage

1942 - Pigs in a Polka (WB toon) 12/27/1843 - The Bohemian Girl
1979 - The First Polka 5/1845 - Polkamania (Niblos)
1984 - The Last Polka [DVD] 6/1845 - Poker-Mania (N.Y. Museum: Burlesque)
1998 - They Live to Polka 1934 - Gypsy Blonde?
1991 - Shmenges: Last Polka (Candy) [VHS] 1942 - Ringling Bros. Circus (Vera Zorina)
1995 - America's Polka King: Yankovic [VHS] Facade
2003 - From Lawrence Welk to America [DVD] Harvest Moon Ball Dance Contests
Back to the Future (Polka dance) Holka-Polka
'Le véritable Polka'

Various Instructional Videos


Polka 101 [DVD] (Kaye) 3/24/1844 - Illustrated London Times
Polka 102 [DVD] (Kaye) 5/11/1844 - Illustrated London Times (Eugene Coralli)
Polka 103 [DVD] (Kaye) 6/8/1844 - The Living Age
7/13/1844 - The Living Age


Punch Magazine -1844
1955-1982 - Lawrence Welk Show 12/12/1853 - Putnam's Monthly
1956 - Dick Sinclair's Polka Parade (aka Polka Party) Jan/Feb./1944 - Dance Magazine

Other Related Dances of the time and Various Polkas...

Alsacian Polka 'ecossaise Minuet rejdovacka
American or Side Step Polka Fryksdalspolska Nixie Polka Ringlet Polka
Apollo Dances Gallop/ Galop Norma Polka Quadrilles Royal Polka
Ashland Polka German Polka Oberek Rush Polka
Baby Polka Half and Half Ostende Polka Schottische
Baden Baden Polka Heel and Toe Polka Polka-Coquette Schottische Polka
Beer Barrel Polka Hohnstocks Polka Polka-Mazurka Schottische Waltz
Bohemian Polka Hornpipe Polka Polka Quadrilles Serious Family Polka
Bourree Hungarian Polka Polka-Redowa (slow Polka) Side Step Polka
Cachucha Jenny Linds Polka Polka Russe Sleigh Bell Polka
Carlton Polka La Belle Swoyarde Polka Polka Tremblante Sultan Polka
Children's Polka La Esmerelda Polka-Waltz Three Slide Polka
Cologne Polka La Sicilliene Valse Redowa Pulka United States Polka
Combination Polka Lancers Quadrilles Walzerlied
Cross Step Polka Mazurka Reinlander Waltz
Czech Pulka Military Polka Redowa
Polka Timeline (for what I have found) ... many versions of the polka have been described as waltzes as well.
1500's - Bourree of Avergneé 1845 - American version
1815 - Galop (aka: Gallopade) 1852 - Polka-Redowa (aka: Redowa Polka)
1820 - Redowa (aka: Redjovat) 1853 - Varsovienne (waltz with polka, Redowa and Mazurka movements)
1822 - Cracovian (aka: Cracovienne, Krakovioc, Krackowiak) 1860 - Polka-Coquette
1830 - Madera Polka (aka: Czech Polka) 1880's - Esmerelda Waltz/Polka - (aka: three slides polka)
1830 - Polka-Mazur 1880's - Heel and Toe (aka: Bohemian) ... orig a vari of the orig polka.
1830 - Hunter Schottische (Redowa) 1880's - Combination Polka - (Esmerelda, Bohemian, Polka)
1835 - Celarius Pulka n/a - Polka-Waltz
1839 - New Polski Mazourka(Polka & Mazurka by Pauline Desjardins) n/a - Polka Valse
1839 - Viennese version n/a - Schottische Polka
1840 - Pulka n/a - Berlin
1840's - Schottische Waltz(Germany) 1943 - Betty Grable Polka
1844 - English Polka

Dancers, Choreographers etc.


1835 - Joseph Neruba 1944 - Harold Maddax 1840s - Mr. Polkos
1840s - Henri Cellarius 1946 - Yee Hoo Polka 1845 - Queen Victoria
1840s - Laborde 1947 - Janette Hackett Dancers
1840s - Lucian Petipa 1950s - Mazowsze Polish State Dance Co.
1844 - M. Cellarius Carlotta Grisi
1844 - Céleste Mogador Pauline Desjardin
5/10/1844 - L. de G. Brookes Gabrielle Dekorponay
1844 - Pomaré Eugénie Doche
1844 - Rose Pompon "The Infant Sisters"
1844 - Vaclav Klastersky Marie Guy Stephan
1845 - Fanny Essler & Domenico Ronzani Clarke and Holland
1845 - Augusta Maywood Mme. Lecomte
1845 - Clara Fontaine Miss Taylor & H. Clarke
Jules Perrott (1810-1892) Mrs. Timm & Walcott
1908 - Moitié de polka Jules Martin
3/25/1845 - Eugene Coralli & Mlle. Maria Busby Berkley (C)
1944 - Hawkeye Hoedown Mira & Tadeusz Sygietynski
1944 - Betty Williams

Publications / Books etc.

Title Writer Date Publisher
$ Modern Dancing Brookes, L de G. 1867 (NY)
Coulons Handbook Coulon, Eugene 1873 A. Hammond
Dance Album Freising, Herr A. 1885 n/a
$ Grammar of the Art of Dancing Zorn, Friedrich Albert 1905 Sheafe
$ A History Of Dancing Johnston, Reginald S. 1905 Simpkin- Kent & Co.
$ Old Fashioned Dances Revived (when available) Ford, Mr. & Mrs. Henry 190? n/a
Mentor Magazine Overton, Grant 12/1926 Magazine
$ Dance Encyclopedia Chujoy, Anatole 1949 A.S. Barnes
$ A Passion for Polka: Old-Time Ethnic Music in America Greene, Victor 1992
2010 - Polka Magazine [Subscription]

Composers / Musicians

Poets / Writers

Balfe, Michael William (1808-1870) 1835 - Jaroslav Langer
Bunn, Alfred (c.1877) 5/1/1841 - Heinrich Heine (London News)
Délibes, Leo 1/7/1842 - Heinrich Heine Letters
Freising, Herr A. 1844 - Vaclav Klastersky
Herold, Edouard 3/1844 - Ill. London News
Offenbach, Jacques (1819-1880) 1845 - Revista Universal Lisbonense by (Lisbon)
Shostakovitch, Dimitri Arthur E. Michel (1883-1946)
Smetana, Frederick Théophile Gautier (1811-1872)
Strauss, Johann II (1825-1899)
Stravinsky, Igor
Vejvoda, Jaromir
Yankovic, Frankie (1915-1998)

Misc. Research Words that may be related ... to help your searches

Accordion ethnic Neuchatel Pulka, Polskie, Polska
Cajun gimpelgampal Polkiste Slovenian
Cellarius lederhosen Promenade Zydeco


Basic Step excerpted from Eugene Coulon's Hand Book-1873:

"There are only three steps in the Polka, which are all jumped, and occupy one bar of music, the fourth interval being only a repose to give time to prepare for the next foot. To begin, the foot is raised a little behind, the gentleman using his left, the lady her right foot.
1) The first step, springs lightly on the right foot, and almost simultaneously slides the left foot to the side, finishing on both feet, with the knees bent.
2) For the second step he makes a jetté with the right foot, which brings the left foot extended to the left, and raised a little from the ground;
3) For the third step he makes a jetté before with the left foot, and finishes with the right foot up, a little behind. Then, without stopping, he bends on the left foot, in order to employ the fourth interval of the bar, and proceeds in the same manner with the right foot. The lady does the same, only, as I have mentioned, beginning with her right foot.

This description of the Polka step may be danced either to the right or to the left. But when it is desired to go forward or backward, as well as in turning, it must be observed that the first step is taken backwards or forwards in the direction that is required." end.
(In simpler words: slight Leap, Hop, Slide, Change weight; they are always made sideways, to the right, or to the left, Couples revolving.)

Trasak, Britva, Kvapik, Pas Bohémian, Back Waltz, Polka Step (Some original Polka Step names).

"un rage, un delire, une fureur"
Site Map|Disclaimer|Privacy Policy