Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index

Soviet Ballroom dances

Competitions in Ballroom dancing in the former Soviet Union were held in three dance categories:

Standard dances, Latin dances, and Soviet dances.

The latter category comprised of

- Polka - Rylio - Varu-Varu - Sudarushka - Russian Lyrical

With the exception of Polka, these dances were artificially created basing on some folk dances of Soviet republics.
- Rylio is of Lithuanean origin.
- Varu-Varu (translated as "I can, I can") is of Latvian origin.
- Sudarushka (loosely translated as "sweetheart") and Russian Lyrical are Rusian.

The former three are "fast" or "rhythmic" dances, the latter two are "slow" or "lyrical" ones.

All of them had distinctive basic techniques. The meter was 2/4 or 4/4 for all of them. The hold was either open or loose, without body contact. Polka had the tightest hold. Polka, Sudarushka and Russian Lyrical were progressive dances, i.e., moving along the line of dance. Rylio and Varu-Varu were of "stationary" type.

Soviet ballroom dances was a relatively new creation. This dance category was introduced with the stated agenda to counterbalance the influence of Western culture (i.e., Ballroom dancing, rock music, Beatles, etc.). During the relatively short existence of Soviet Ballroom, only the first three had a chance of becoming true Ballroom/Social dances, judging by the flexibility and spontaneity of choreography, willingness of dancers to dance them during practice hours, etc. Rylio had all chances to repeat the evolution of Swing dances: it was danced quite differently in Baltic republics (smoothly), in Belarus (jumpy), and in Moscow. On the contrary, a heat of Sudarushka during a ballroom competition often looked like a performance of a formation team, all competitors dancing almost the same routine.

At the peak of popularity some huge ball rooms of Moscow "Palaces of Culture" crowded parties of several hundred of ballroom couples in 4-5 concentric circles of Sudarushka.

Today the category is obsolete, but the dances themselves survived, moved back to the category of folk dances.

Table of contents
1 Some basic step-rhythm patterns

Some basic step-rhythm patterns

The count cues could be any of 12345678, 12341234, 1&2&3&4& or 1&2&1&2&.


In-place basic:
Double hand hold in various positions, e.g., sidewise-forward on the shoulder level, elbows bent down.
Steps of partners are mirrored.
1-2, 3-4, 5-6-7-8: tap-step, tap-step, step-step-step-step.
All steps/taps are in place, with slight one-foot skipping action.


In-place basic:
Double hand hold, waist level.
Partners start with the same foot and go in a small cirle, first in one direction, then in the opposite one.
1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: side-together-side-heel, side-together-side-heel
Skips: (12),(34),5,6,(78) (or slow-slow-quick-quick-slow): skip...skip...skip-skip-skip. A skip is from one foot to another, the freed foot pointing forward, toe on the floor.


Triple-Step Basic Walks:
Right-to-left handhold, Free hands are on the waist.
Steps are mirrored, along the line of dance.
1-2-3-4, 5-6-7-8: step-step-step-tap, step-step-step-tap.
Tap is toe beside the support foot.
Initially the partners face each other. During the first triple step they "fan out" away from each other, free arms fanning sidewise. During the second triple partners "fan in", back to facing each other, free hands back on the waist.

Russian Lyrical

Starts in shadow position, man's right hand on lady's waist, left arms linked pointing left diagonal.
Most walks are based on "Russian triple step": step-step-step-hold. It can be performed forward, backward, with turn on any step.