Circle dance
"Circle dance" is the most common name for a style of traditional dance usually done in a circle without partners to musical accompaniment.


Dancing in a circle is an ancient tradition common to many cultures for marking special occasions, strengthening community and encouraging togetherness. The circle is probably the oldest known dance formation. It is found even today in the community dances of many cultures, including Greek (Greek dances
Greek dances
Greek dance is a very old tradition, being referred to by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch and Lucian. There are different styles and interpretations from all of the islands and surrounding mainland areas. Each region formed its own choreography and style to fit in with their own ways...

 surviving from ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

Chorea (dance)
Choreia is a circle dance accompanied by singing , in ancient Greece. Homer refers to this dance in his epic poem, the Iliad....

)), African
African dance
African dance refers mainly to the dance of Sub-Saharan Africa, and more appropriately African dances because of the many cultural differences in musical and movement styles...

, Eastern European, Israeli
Culture of Israel
The culture of Israel developed long before the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948 and combines the heritage of secular and religious lives. Much of the diversity in Israel's culture comes from the diversity of its population...

 (see Jewish dance
Jewish dance
Jewish dance refers to dance associated with Jews and Judaism. Dance has long been used by Jews as a medium for the expression of joy and other communal emotions...

 and Israeli folk dancing
Israeli folk dancing
Israeli folk dancing is a form of dance usually performed to music from Israel, with dances choreographed for specific songs. Most Israeli dances are performed in a circle, although there are also partner dances and line dances.-History and description:...

), Serbian, Irish Celtic, Breton, Catalan (sardana
The sardana is a type of circle dance typical of Catalonia, Spain. The dance was originally from the Empordà region, but started gaining popularity throughout Catalonia during the 20th century....

), South American and North American Indian. It is also used, in its more meditative form, in worship within various religious traditions, including, for example, the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 and other Anglican Churches and the Islamic Haḍra
Hadra can be:*Hadra, Poland, a village*Hadra , a genus of snails*Haḍra , rituals performed by Sufi orders...


Modern circle dance mixes traditional folk dances, mainly from European or Near-Eastern sources, with recently choreographed ones to a variety of music both ancient and modern and they draw on a rich and diverse dance tradition. There is also a growing repertoire of new dances to classical music and contemporary songs.

Circle dances can be energetic and lively or gentle and reflective. The style and mood reflects the group and the interests of the teacher. It was Bernhard Wosien who first brought to the Findhorn Community in Scotland the traditional circle dances that he had gathered from across Eastern Europe. He so inspired people there that teachers such as Colin Harrison and David Roberts took the dances (sometimes calling their dance 'sacred circle dance') to other parts of the UK and started regular groups particularly in the south east of England and Somerset, then across Europe, the US and elsewhere until now the network extends also to Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and South America. In later years, some started to dance in the formation of a triangle.

Circle Dance is sometimes also known as Sacred Circle Dance from the original importance it had for the Findhorn Foundation
Findhorn Foundation
The Findhorn Foundation is a Scottish charitable trust registered in 1972, formed by the spiritual community at the Findhorn Ecovillage, one of the largest intentional communities in Britain....

 community in Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

 following visits there from 1976 onwards by Professor Bernhard Wosien, a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 dancer. Known first as Sacred Dance, it has changed over time as enthusiasts have made contributions, and may now be called Circle Dance, Sacred Dance, or Sacred Circle Dance (SCD). A small centrepiece of flowers or other natural or venerated objects is often placed at the centre of the circle to help focus the dancers and maintain the circular shape. Dancers bring many different belief systems to the circle including conventional religions (see above), New age
New Age
The New Age movement is a Western spiritual movement that developed in the second half of the 20th century. Its central precepts have been described as "drawing on both Eastern and Western spiritual and metaphysical traditions and then infusing them with influences from self-help and motivational...

 and Neopagan beliefs and no religious affiliations at all. Much debate goes on within the circle dance network about what is meant by 'sacred' in the dance.

There is a worldwide network of circle dance groups who meet up weekly or fortnightly. In many groups people are welcome to "drop in" informally to try out a session without having to sign up for a term. (see Networks and Journals, below). Dance weekends and holidays are also available. (see, for example, for circle dance holiday courses including UK, France, Greece, Holland, Belgium, Israel and Turkey)

Thabal Chongba (Moonlight Dance) of Manipur

Thabal Chongba
Thabal Chongba
Thabal Chongba is a popular Manipuri folk dance associated with the festival of Yaoshang. The literal meaning of Thabal is 'moonlight' and Chongba means 'dance', thus 'dancing in the moonlight'. Traditionally conservative Manipuri parents did not allow their daughters to go out and meet any young...

 is a popular Manipuri folk dance associated with the festival of Yaoshang. The literal meaning of Thabal is 'moonlight' and Chongba means 'dance', thus 'dancing in the moonlight'. Traditionally conservative Manipuri parents did not allow their daughters to go out and meet any young men without their consent. Thabal Chongba
Thabal Chongba
Thabal Chongba is a popular Manipuri folk dance associated with the festival of Yaoshang. The literal meaning of Thabal is 'moonlight' and Chongba means 'dance', thus 'dancing in the moonlight'. Traditionally conservative Manipuri parents did not allow their daughters to go out and meet any young...

 therefore provided the only chance for girls to meet and talk to boys. In earlier times, this dance was performed in the moonlight accompanied by folk songs. The music is rhythmic beating of drums accompanied by other instruments. It is performed in every locality on all the five days of the festival. As soon as the moon rises over the hills the flute, the drums and the cymbals starts pouring out music. The boys and girls in a circle clutch each others hands with rhythms of music slow and fast, high and low, up and down. If the number is great they may form two or three rows so that everybody and anybody can participate in the dance. Of its special interest in the dance of legs and of the mind by the side of girl on the part of the males and also by the side of youth on the part of the females and hand in hand dancing. They wear no make-up and special costumes.

See also

  • Syrtos
    Syrtos , is the collective name of a group of Greek folk dances. Syrtos, along with its relative kalamatianos, are the most popular dances throughout Greece and are frequently danced by the Greek diaspora worldwide. They are very popular in social gatherings, weddings and religious festivals...

  • Kalamatianos
    The Kalamatianós Dance is one of the best known dances of Greece. It is popular Greek folkdance throughout Greece, Cyprus and internationally and is often performed at many social gatherings worldwide. As is the case with most Greek folk dances, it is danced in circle with a counterclockwise...

  • Sirtaki
    Sirtaki or syrtaki is a popular dance of Greek origin, choreographed, by Giorgos Provias for the 1964 film Zorba the Greek. It is not a traditional Greek folkdance, but a mixture of the slow and fast versions of the hasapiko dance...

  • Round dance
    Round dance
    There are two distinct dance categories called round dance. The specific dances belonging to the first of these categories are often considered to be ethnic, folk or country dances...

  • Tarantella
    The term tarantella groups a number of different southern Italian couple folk dances characterized by a fast upbeat tempo, usually in 6/8 time , accompanied by tambourines. It is among the most recognized of traditional Italian music. The specific dance name varies with every region, for instance...

  • Oro (dance)
  • Mayim Mayim, a popular Israeli circle dance
  • Kantu
    Kantu or k'antu is an ancient style of music and circle dance which is widespread since incaic or even preincaic epoch on the Peruvian and Bolivian highlands. Modern versions of this style still use the Quechua or Aymara language and the siku...

    , an ancient Andean circle dance
  • Barmaley Fountain
    Barmaley Fountain
    The Barmaley was a fountain in the city of Stalingrad, installed in front of the Museum of Defense of Tsaritsyn. Its official name was Children's Khorovod. The statue was of a circle of six children dancing around a crocodile...

Networks and journals

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