Walloon Dance

Walloon traditional dances are essentially peasant dances originated from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries and practiced in the Walloon region of Belgium. They were originally mostly danced in popular balls in the villages but almost disappeared at the end of the 19th century and beginning of 20th century. A few people and groups interested in preserving and perpetuating this intangible heritage conducted dance « collections » at their own initiative, by interviewing older people who used to perform the dance and hence where living representatives of this heritage, or found information in notebooks from « ménétriers » (dance leaders) who used to go to local events (weddings, etc.) and in villages to play music and animate the traditional balls.

Walloon traditional dances are hence mainly reconstitutions or dances inherited from a few older dancers through these individual dance collections. Traditional dance groups have since been practicing and teaching these dances, perpetuating the tradition of folklore, community and social interactions which are at the center of these traditional dances. All traditional dancers are amateur dancers (not professional), with different levels of expertise. Each dance group relies on one or a few experts, which have inherited their knowledge of the traditional Walloon dances from individual dance collections or from older experts. There are currently around thirty local dance groups in Belgium. Since there are no formal traditional dance schools, Walloon dances are usually taught in the local dance groups. The dances are usually practiced at the dance group rehearsals during the whole year, and most dance groups perform from time to time in local events, traditional dance festivals in Belgium or abroad, or in folk balls organized by the different dance groups.

Walloon traditional dances are mainly couple dances, whitch are danced with at least four couples, with no upper limit to the number of participants. Some of the main Walloon dances are called « passe-pied », « maclotte », « scottish », « amoureuse », « allemandes », « mazurka », « polka », « quadrilles », « valse ». They are performed with some variances according to the knowledge sources of the dance group and according to the region.