Folk dancing in Central Switzerland


Category:
Performing arts
  • Social practices
Canton:

Description

Public dance events underwent a major functional change in the course of the 20th century. In many rural areas of Central Switzerland at the end of the 19th century, they were only permitted on a few days of the year, in particular during Fasnacht and at fairs and weddings. After the Second World War, they evolved into one of many available leisure activities under the influence of global dance styles such as rock and roll, breakdance and salsa. Traditional dances – in particular the Scottish, polka, waltz, mazurka, foxtrot and Marsch-Fox (a combination of a march, a Scottish dance and foxtrot) styles – began increasingly to evoke a sense of home. Since the 1930s, the preservation of folk dancing traditions has been primarily the work of Trachtenvereine (associations for traditional costumes). In the 170 Central Swiss municipalities there are currently 94 such associations. They perform their dances mainly at folk festivals, association celebrations, traditional events and the Urschweizer Trachtentag (a folk festival at which people wear traditional costumes). One unique dance form is the traditional 'Bödälä' (also known as the 'Beedälä' and, in the canton of Schwyz, the 'Gäuerle'), in which dancers stamp their feet on the floor in an expressive, rhythmical manner. The rhythms they create act as a percussive accompaniment to the traditional folk music (usually performed live).

Image gallery

  • Dancers wearing traditional costumes from the canton of Lucerne take part in the Sachseln Trachtentag (OW), 25 June 2011.
  • The town of Willisau (LU) is transformed into a giant open-air dance floor: members of the Lucerne Trachtengruppe performing at the Central Switzerland Trachtenfest, 2 June 2012. © David Kunz, Willisauer Bote
  • The Malters Trachtengruppe (LU) performing at their annual gala evening, 20 November 2010. © Trachtengruppe Malters
  • Two men dancing the Gäuerle, at the costume festival on Mount Rigi, 1936 © Fotograf: unbekannt. Rechteinhaber: Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung
  • “Twirl your partner round and round”: Sachseln Trachtentag (OW), 25 June 2011.
  • A couple proudly wearing traditional costume: scene from the national Trachtenfest in Schwyz, 5 Juni 2010.
  • The next generation make their debut: members of the Lucerne Kindertrachtengruppe step out at the Central Switzerland Trachtenfest in Willisau (LU), 2 June 2012. © Norbert Bossart, Willisauer Bote
  • A Bödälär from Obwalden in action. Älggi-Alp (OW), 30 June 2012. © Urs Flüeler, Stans
  • Gäuerle is a permanent fixture of the annual Illgau harvest festival (“Sennenchilbi”) programme which is held during carnival season. Illgau (SZ), 15 February 2010. © Andy Micheletto, Arth
  • Indoor Gäuerle performance at the Illgau harvest festival, 15 February 2010. © Andy Micheletto, Arth
  • Dancers wearing traditional costumes from the canton of Obwalden performing in Beckenried (NW), 1959. © Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung, Bubikon
  • A couple from Unterwald wearing traditional dress and preparing to dance, postcard, circa 1925. © Staatsarchiv Nidwalden, Stans
  • The Trachtengruppe Zug in front of the William Tell monument, Altdorf (UR) 1930. © Trachtengruppe der Stadt Zug
  • International exchange: Dancing the Gäuerle at the World Folk Dance Festival Congress in Biarritz (France), July 1953. © Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung, Bubikon
  • Dancers wearing traditional costumes from the canton of Lucerne take part in the Sachseln Trachtentag (OW), 25 June 2011.
  • The town of Willisau (LU) is transformed into a giant open-air dance floor: members of the Lucerne Trachtengruppe performing at the Central Switzerland Trachtenfest, 2 June 2012. © David Kunz, Willisauer Bote
  • The Malters Trachtengruppe (LU) performing at their annual gala evening, 20 November 2010. © Trachtengruppe Malters
  • Two men dancing the Gäuerle, at the costume festival on Mount Rigi, 1936 © Fotograf: unbekannt. Rechteinhaber: Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung
  • “Twirl your partner round and round”: Sachseln Trachtentag (OW), 25 June 2011.
  • A couple proudly wearing traditional costume: scene from the national Trachtenfest in Schwyz, 5 Juni 2010.
  • The next generation make their debut: members of the Lucerne Kindertrachtengruppe step out at the Central Switzerland Trachtenfest in Willisau (LU), 2 June 2012. © Norbert Bossart, Willisauer Bote
  • A Bödälär from Obwalden in action. Älggi-Alp (OW), 30 June 2012. © Urs Flüeler, Stans
  • Gäuerle is a permanent fixture of the annual Illgau harvest festival (“Sennenchilbi”) programme which is held during carnival season. Illgau (SZ), 15 February 2010. © Andy Micheletto, Arth
  • Indoor Gäuerle performance at the Illgau harvest festival, 15 February 2010. © Andy Micheletto, Arth
  • Dancers wearing traditional costumes from the canton of Obwalden performing in Beckenried (NW), 1959. © Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung, Bubikon
  • A couple from Unterwald wearing traditional dress and preparing to dance, postcard, circa 1925. © Staatsarchiv Nidwalden, Stans
  • The Trachtengruppe Zug in front of the William Tell monument, Altdorf (UR) 1930. © Trachtengruppe der Stadt Zug
  • International exchange: Dancing the Gäuerle at the World Folk Dance Festival Congress in Biarritz (France), July 1953. © Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung, Bubikon

References and documentation

Publications
  • Bödälä. Dance the Rhythm. Ein Film von Gitta Gsell. DVD, 78 Minuten. Zürich: Reck Filmproduktion, 2010.

  • Wolfram, Richard: “Das «Gäuerlen» in Rothenturm”, In: Schneider, Manfred (Hrsg.): Volksmusik im Alpenland. Band 2. Thaur/Tirol: Österreichischer Kulturverlag, 1980, S. 87-94.

  • Schmid-Kunz, Johannes: “Der Volkstanz”, In: Wunderlin, Dominik; Schmid-Kunz, Johannes: Jubiläumsschrift der Schweizerischen Trachtenvereinigung. 1926-2001. Burgdorf: Schweizerische Trachtenvereinigung, 2001 (= Sonderausgabe der Zeitschrift der Schweizerischen Trachtenvereinigung «Tracht und Brauch»), S. 108-121.

  • Wey, Martin: “Der Volkstanz”, In: Volksmusik in der Schweiz. Herausgegeben von der Gesellschaft für die Volksmusik in der Schweiz. Zürich: Ringier, 1985, S. 60-83.

  • Bühler-Bättig, Helmut: “Verwalteter Tanz. Ein Beitrag zur Luzerner Sittengeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts”, In: Der Geschichtsfreund. Mitteilungen des Historischen Vereins Zentralschweiz, 157 (2004), S. 5-70.

  • Furrer, Benno: “Im Rathaus lässt sich prächtig tanzen. Rat- und Tanzhäuser in Dörfern der Zentralschweiz als Ausdruck politischer Selbständigkeit”, In: Rathäuser und andere kommunale Bauten. Herausgegeben vom Arbeitskreis für Hausforschung. Marburg: Jonas Verlag, 2010, S. 322-339.

  • Ithen, Anna: “Über Tänze im Kanton Zug”, In: Schweizerisches Archiv für Volkskunde 9 (1905-1906), S. 65-67.

Documentation