Folk dance is a term used to encompass a large number of dances that generally share the following attributes:
- They were originally danced in the 19th century or earlier,
- They were generally danced by the lower social classes,
- There is no one governing body that has final say over what "the dance" is or who is authorized to teach it.
Modern Street dance such as Hip hop are not considered Folk Dances because they do not meet the above criteria. In retrospect, all folk dances today would once have fit the criteria for street dances at the time they were originally danced. Of course, in retrospect most of these dances were also once danced by the higher social classes, too; the entire notion of the "common folk" having separate dance forms from the upper classes is somewhat of a misnomer.
Some examples of families of folk dances would be:
- English Country Dance (Although today's ECD is a revival)
- Scottish Country Dance (Although the RSCDS is a governing body)
- Square Dance
- Morris Dance
- Irish Dance