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Did you know? - Snippet About Portuguese Folk Dance

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Did you know? - Snippet About Portuguese Folk Dance


Written by  Staff Writer
Tuesday, 01 August 2017 23:38

Folk dances include: Circle dance, Fandango (of the Ribatejo region), Two Steps Waltz, Schottische (Chotiça), Corridinho (of the Algarve and Estremadura regions), Vira (of the Minho region), Bailarico, Vareirinha, Malhão, Vareira, Maneio, Vira de Cruz, Vira Solto, Vira de Macieira, Sapatinho, Tau-Tau, Ciranda, Zé que Fumas, Regadinho, O Pedreiro and Ó Ti Taritatu.

There are also variations of these dances called the Xama-Rita in the Azores. Dance apparel is highly varied, ranging from work clothes to the Sunday best, with rich distinguished from the poor.


Bailarico (also known as bailharico) is a Portuguese folk dance. The pairs face each other without holding each other, and with their backs turned to the neighboring pair, form a circle. In the first part of the music, the circle rotates with the girls backing up and the boys going towards them. They take baby bouncing steps and both boys and girls raise their hands in the air. On the second part of the music, the pairs embrace and waltz by spinning in the same place, to one side first and then to the other.


The corridinho is a form of Portuguese dance, namely in the Algarve. It is danced with the pairs always embraced, forming a circle, girls inside and the boys outside the circle. By rotating the circle the pairs evolve side by side. At a certain time, when the music as a stronger beat, their feet hit the floor more intensely, stopping the rotation, to resume afterwards. Further away in the dance, the pairs embraced waltz by spinning in the same place. Next the circle starts rotating again always for the right side. It is also a very traditional dance in Portugal that Portuguese people like doing.


Fandango is a lively folk and Andalusian (flamenco) couple-dance usually in triple metre, traditionally accompanied by guitars and castanets or hand-clapping (palmas in Spanish and Portuguese). Fandango can both be sung and danced. The sung fandango is usually bipartite: it has an instrumental introduction followed by "variaciones".

Sung fandango usually follows the structure of "cante" that consist of four or five octosyllabic verses (coplas) or musical phrases (tercios). Occasionally the first copla is repeated.

  • The metre of fandango is similar to that of the bolero and seguidilla. It was originally notated in 6/8 time, but later in 3/8 or 3/4.The earliest fandango melody is found in the anonymous "Libro de diferentes cifras de guitarra" in 1705, and the earliest description of the dance itself is found in a 1712 letter by Martín Martí, a Spanish priest.
  • Fandango's first sighting in a theatrical work was in Francisco de Leefadeal's "Entremés El novio de la aldeana" staged in Seville, ca. 1720. By the late 18th century it had become fashionable among the aristocracy and was often included in tonadillas, zarzuelas, ballets and operas, not only in Spain, but also elsewhere in Europe.

Widely varying claims have been made about the origin of fandango: its relation to the soleá, jabera and petenera; to the Andalusian malagueña, granadina, murciana and rondeña; to the canario and gitano; to the jota aragonesa. There have been suggestions of a Moorish origin.

Currently the prevailing theories point to either a West Indian or Latin American origin

Fandango is one of the main folk dances in Portugal. The choreography is quite simple: on its more frequent setting two male dancers face each other, dancing and tap-dancing one at each time, showing which one has the most lightness and repertoire of feet changes in the tap-dancing.

The dancers can be boy and girl, boy and boy (most frequent) or rarely two girls.

While one of the dancers dances, the other just "goes along". Afterwards, they "both drag their feet for a while" until the other one takes his turn. They stay there, disputing, seeing which one of them makes the feet transitions more eye-catching.

The "fandango do Ribatejo" refers specifically the form of fandango practiced in Ribatejo, Portugal. The dance is usually performed by two Campinos. As a result of the extravagant features of the dance, the word fandango is used as a synonym for 'a quarrel', 'a big fuss' or 'a brilliant exploit.'


In Portugal, schottische (xoutiça or xote) has become heavily standardized for folklore displays. The pairs in groups of four, six or eight, form a circle and dance embraced all together. The circle starts to rotate until a moment when the pairs pass, this is, the pairs that are opposite each other switch places crossing each other in the center  of the circle.

They continue to pass successively two by two, all the  pairs. After everybody made their pass, they continue to dance by  rotating in circle. Further along in the dance, all the pairs will join  in the center of the circle to beat the center of the circle with their  feet, and continue to dance rotating the circle in the initial position,  always for the right side. Bear in mind that all the moves are made  always by the pair and never by one of its elements separately, because  in the schottiche you can never switch pair.

Two Steps Waltz

The Two Steps Waltz is a dance, possibly a waltz referred to by the Portuguese as the “Bato pé”. It is a folk dance of Portugal. The pairs are embraced, placed in a circle. They start by taking two lateral steps towards the interior of the circle and them return to the initial position. Next, they give two lateral steps away from the circle and them return to the initial position. After, the pairs "waltz" embraced by spinning in the same place, as the big circle rotates inverse clockwise until the end of the musical passage. At this point everything, music and choreography, start all over again


The vira is a traditional dance from Portugal. Most famous from the Minho region but is presented in all regions. It is has a 3 step rhythm very similar to waltz, but it is faster and the couples dance front-to-front without holding hands. Another way to dance the Vira is: Embraced pairs form a big circle that evolves inverse clockwise. At a certain time the boys leave their pairs in the circle and go to the centre, where they hit the floor with their right foot, and return backing until their respective pairs. The circle starts to rotate again, and the next time the circle stops it will be the girls that will go to the center. They do this alternately.





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