Dancing transcends borders and cultures. While every country has its own unique dances that incorporate heritage, values, and traditions, have you ever wondered if any countries share the same national dances?
It turns out that out of the 289 unique national dances represented among 131 countries, some dances are shared by multiple nations.
Let’s put on our dancing shoes and explore the 18 national dances that are represented by more than one country. From Ardah, the most widely-practiced dance, to the traditional Al-Bar’ah in Oman and Yemen, we’ll take a closer look at the types of dances and which countries share them. Finally, we’ll take a look at the state dances throughout the U.S.—especially one very common dance that involves a shape. Yeehaw!
View National dances in a full screen map
Although there are 289 unique national dances represented among the 131 countries, there are a total of 313 dances. This means that some national dances are shared by more than one country. So let’s take a look at which dances are represented by multiple countries.
|Dance||# of countries with this dance||Countries|
|Ardah||5||Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates|
|Dabke||4||Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria|
|Quadrille||3||Bahamas, Jamaica, Virgin Islands|
|Rake-and-scrape||2||Bahamas, Turks and Caicos|
|Peacock dance||2||Bangladesh, Cambodia|
|Kwadril||2||Dominica, Saint Lucia|
|Kurdish dance||2||Iran, Iraq|
|Khaleegy||2||Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates|
|Irish stepdance||2||Ireland, United Kingdom|
As you can see from the table above, Ardah is the most widely practiced dance. It’s performed by two rows of men wielding swords or canes opposite each other, accompanied by drums and spoken poetry. Middle Eastern countries make up all five for which Ardah is a national dance. The second-most common dance, Dabke, is nearly as popular in Middle Eastern countries. It involves a mix of circle and line dancing and is widely performed at weddings and other joyous occasions.
More than just a region sharing the same dances, some are performed in two countries with similar cultural backgrounds or geographical proximity. For example, both Ardah and Liwa, a dance in which male participants arrange themselves into a circle while clapping and dancing in place, are performed in Bahrain and Kuwait, neighboring countries with shared cultural roots. Similarly, Shota is performed in both Albania and Kosovo, which are located in the same region of Europe, and the Kurdish dance is performed in both Iran and Iraq, two countries that share a border.
Check out the rest of the dances on the map before moving on to their classification, from folk to traditional and classical.
Even if countries don’t share the same dance, quite a few have something else in common: types. Moreover, the following 10 are the types of at least two national dances.
- Folk dance: 225
- Traditional dance: 41
- Classical dance: 9
- Partner dance: 7
- Music and dance style: 6
- Popular dance: 6
- Square dance: 5
- Native American dance: 3
- Afro-Brazilian dance: 2
- Latin American dance: 2
Folk dances, which reflect the life of the people of the country or region, are by far the most common type, with 225 instances across 98 countries. Examples include the Israeli folk dance, India’s Garba, and the Marma dance in Bangladesh, along with Armenia’s Armenian dance and Shalakho.
Meanwhile, traditional dances are the second most common type, with 41 instances, including Al-Bar’ah in Oman and Yemen, the Chinese dragon dance, and Napal’s Newa dance.
You’ll also find multiple classical, partner, popular, and music and dance style dances on the map. Other less common types of national dances are Native American, Latin American, and Afro-Brazilian dances.
But we can’t forget square dancing, which is the type of national dance of five countries, including many states in the U.S.
While not on the map, we thought we’d dive further into the most popular state dances of the United States—or should we say, dance.
Just 33 U.S. states have dance data, according to Wikipedia. Of these, 24 (or nearly 73%) are square dances: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington. This is a result of an apparent campaign by square dancers to make it the national dance of many states in the ‘70s.
Other than square dancing, the shag and clogging are more common than the rest. Specifically, the shag is the national dance of South Carolina while in North Carolina, the official popular dance is the Carolina shag. Clogging is representative of both North Carolina and Kentucky.