You might be stuck at home in lockdown, but with the power of the internet, almost anything is possible. So, take a much-needed break from the news, pause your playlist of cute cat videos and join us on a digital dance journey around the world. Our dance passport challenge brings you to six different countries, one on each inhabitable continent, to learn a short dance in a local dance style. Let’s travel the world together, dancing the whole way.
Dance Passport Logistics
To play along, watch the dance tutorials below and upload your attempts on socials with the hashtag #DDdancepassport. Please also tag us (@dancedispatches across all platforms), so we can celebrate your achievements. We’ve left the instructors’ social handles below each of their videos, so you can include them, too.
If you’d like a personalized dance passport, please leave your name and email in the form below. If you have any additional requests (eg: to create a passport for your entire family, ‘The Smiths’), please add them to the extra notes section. Feel free to get started dancing, and we will send your dance documents shortly.
When you have completed a dance, you can get your dance passport stamped and dated. Just email us a link to your videos at email@example.com, and we’ll send you an updated version to reflect your dance travels. (Please email us even if you do tag us on socials, since email is a more reliable form of communication and we’ll know where to send the stamped pages.) We understand that not everyone wants to be in the spotlight, so you can send us links to private videos and delete them once we send your passports back.
But the challenge is more fun when you share, so we’re setting a good example. You can see our goofy attempts in this Dance Passport Behind the Scenes feature.
Ready for lift off? We begin our round-the-world trip in North America…
North America: Line Dance (USA)
The USA is a great big country, and while the nation is the birthplace of both modern dance, jazz dance and tap dance, line dance is a part of the folk dance tradition, too. You may even know a few North American line dances – like the Electric Slide, the Macarena, the ChaCha Slide and the Cupid Shuffle. These simple dances are generally performed in a line and turn to face each side of the room. Throughout, there is no physical contact between participants. Today, some US residents still dress up in cowboy boots and line dance to both country and popular music.
This video by Elise of Dirt Road Dancing will teach you the energetic line dance that features in the classic movie Footloose. Although the steps are basic, they’re pretty quick when paired with the zippy tune (the namesake Footloose song by Kenny Loggins). It’s a good piece of choreography to have in your dance library.
See more on the Dirt Road Dancing YouTube channel.
Elise and Troy run Dirt Road Dancing from Boise, Idaho; but they also hold live streaming classes online. The pair and their colleagues “specialize in converting classic country dance styles into a faster, modern-edge swing” and cover country swing dance, country waltz and two-step, in addition to line dance.
South America: Samba (Brazil)
Next, we’ll take a trip below the equator for a break in Brazil – to learn the samba. The Brazilian music and dance genre has roots in Africa and comes on full display with fantastic costumes during the annual Carnival celebrations. Samba is the country’s national dance, but it’s particularly popular in Bahia and São Paulo. The samba is also enjoyed globally by ballroom dancers. The style is different to what you would see at local festivities, but the steps are performed as a partner dance in the Latin category of ballroom competitions.
Alexey, from Ballroom with Alexey, demonstrates a line dance that incorporates various samba moves. (This means you can carry on your digital dance journey solo, if need be.) Follow along and you’ll be stepping smoothly in no time. And loosening up those hips now will help you to learn some of the upcoming global dances.
See more on the Ballroom with Alexey YouTube channel.
Alexey, from Ballroom with Alexey, is a professional ballroom dance instructor from Ukraine – where he became a three-time Ukrainian ballroom dance champion and appeared on So You Think You Can Dance (Ukraine), in addition to Ukraine’s Got Talent. He now lives and works as a dance instructor in Orange County, California.
Europe: Highland Fling (Scotland)
Although Irish dance is arguably the most well-known dance from the British Isles (thanks to Riverdance) Scotland has its own cultural dance called the Highland Fling. According to Britannica online, the vigorous dance performed in 4/4 time “was probably originally a victory dance for a solo male dancer, performed after battle.” (So, it’s like the historical precursor to ‘The Floss’ from Fortnite.) The entry goes on to detail the dance as “a series of intricate steps performed on one spot” and mentions that the cultural tradition is regularly performed at the Highland Games competitions held within Scotland.
In this beginning Highland dance lesson, taught by Gemma from Two Scots Abroad, you’re sure to get a good cardio workout – and your calf muscles will benefit from all of the jumping. As you practice this first step of the Highland Fling, you may realize that it’s much harder to jump on one spot is pretty hopping hard!
See more on the Two Scots Abroad YouTube channel.
Gemma previously studied Highland dance for more than a decade as a child. Today, she runs with a travel blog with husband Craig. Two Scots Abroad offers useful travel itineraries for destinations around the globe, in addition to travel tips and packing lists. Gemma created the dance video for her list of 40 Travel-Related Activities You Can Do in the Home.
Africa: Coupé Décalé (Ivory Coast)
Although many people often mistakenly speak of Africa as a country, rather than the enormous continent, the landmass contains more than 50 countries. Dance is not only an important part of many cultures here, it has also spread and evolved across the African diaspora, spread across the world during the slave trade. African culture has influenced American jazz, Cuban salsa, Brazilian samba and even some aspects of Spanish flamenco.
On our stopover to the Ivory Coast, we’ll try the coupé décalé, which derives some influences from the Congolese rumba. Learning even a little bit of the coupé décalé movement vocabulary will require all of your coordination. There’s a lot going on – with the torso shifts and the quick leg movements. Try to maintain a grounded feeling throughout and enjoy the music.
BM is a Congolese singer-songwriter-producer, who grew up in south London. His BM Official channel on YouTube has a few dance tutorials and dance challenges videos. You can also find him on Facebook and Instagram. You can find both dance instructors, CeeCee Coco and Gugu Golden, on Instagram.
Asia: Bhangra (India)
Many famous dances come from India, like Bollywood and more traditional dances like Bharatanatyam, Kathak and Odissi. On this virtual dance trip, we’ll learn a few bhangra moves – a very energetic dance style that originated in the Indian state of Punjab, but is also popular in Pakistan. Bhangra was traditionally danced at the spring harvest festival, called Vaisakhi, while today it also appears and at wedding and other celebrations.
This simple bhangra tutorial with Amreen of BHANGRAlicious will teach you three basic steps. You’ll learn where to bring your free leg when you hop, as well as the dance’s characteristic arm and shoulder movements. If you master these moves, you’ll finally know how to dance to the most famous bhangra song: Panjabi MC’s Mundian To Bach Ke.
See more on the BHANGRAlicious YouTube channel.
Amreen, the dancer and dance instructor from BHANGRAlicious, shoots her tutorials in her hometown of Vancouver. She also shares how to dance Gidha, another Indian folk dance.
Oceania: Tahitian Dance (French Polynesia)
We’re heading to Tahiti on the final top of our international dance journey. The tropical island, part of the nation of French Polynesia, is well-known for its traditional folk dances. Polynesian dancers are recognizable for their incredible percussive hip movements that are often accentuated by grassy skirts. Meanwhile, the arms usually gesture gracefully to tell a story.
Beatrice leads a beginners Tahitian dance to Logo Te Pate – Te Vaka, a song from Disney’s Moana movie. This could make the choreography especially appealing to our younger dance travelers. The choreography to this cheery song includes swaying hips, step-taps, claps and a few simple turns. However you move, just keep smiling.
See more on the Tahiti Dance Fitness YouTube channel.
Beatrice is the founder of Tahiti Dance Fitness (TDF), a Polynesian dance school in Singapore. Both women and children attend lessons at Tahiti Dance Fitness, which conducts both dance lessons and fitness classes – and you can tag them on Facebook and Instagram when you share your Tahitian dance videos.
Thank you for embarking on the virtual global journey with us to learn a variety of cultural dances. We hope you picked up a few skills during the Dance Passport challenge, but more importantly, had a fun time trying different dance styles. We can’t wait to see your videos!
Please note that we selected the highest quality free tutorials available in English to represent a variety of dance genres, which is why a majority of the videos were produced by dancers in North America.
Which dance came most naturally to you and which did you find particularly tricky? Did any of your friends or family members take you up on the Dance Passport challenge? Let us know in the comments below!
If you’re looking for more at-home dance inspiration, check out these 60+ activities for dancers to keep busy at home, these incredible resources for dancers amid the Covid-19 quarantine and our pick of the top virtual dance activities during lockdown. We’ve also got some additional 2020 dance challenges for you here. And, if you’d like to continue ‘traveling’ from the comfort of home, learn about different global dances and dance attractions in our dance travel guides.