How to do the butterfly dance

The Road Less Travelled: The Butterfly (Dance)

I don't know why it popped into my head, but I found myself thinking about the Butterfly while eating my breakfast the other morning.

I don't mean "a" butterfly, the kind with wings. (The kind that's taken on an entirely different meaning/significance in my life these past 20 years, given their association with pregnancy and infant loss and bereavement.)

"The Butterfly" I'm thinking about is a dance -- a staple of every social (dance/party) & wedding I attended when I was growing up on the Canadian Prairies (pre-Chicken Dance, pre-Macarena). The fun part was you needed three people to do it. As a trio, you would hop-step around the dance floor, arms around each other, to some slowish fiddle music (I seem to remember "My Bonnie lies over the ocean" and "How much is that doggie in the window,"  lol).

Then the music would pause, & the fast music would start. It was the duty of the person in the middle to swing the other two people around -- first one person, then the other, then back to the first person again. .. until the slower music started up again, and you'd link arms & continue to hop-step around the dance floor. Until the fast music started up again. By the end, you were pretty much staggering around the dance floor ;) and it could get pretty interesting, depending on how much you'd had to drink (which is probably why butterflies were usually played later in the evening, lol). You also had to watch out not to crash into the threesomes around you, depending on how crowded the dance floor was.

I Googled "butterfly dance" to confirm my memories & see what else I could find out about it. I suspected it was probably a "Prairie thing," since I don't think I have ever done one in the 30+ years I have lived in southern Ontario. Socials are not a "thing" here, and although I've attended umpteen weddings, mostly for dh's Italian relatives, the DJ/band has never played a Butterfly at any of them. (I haven't been to too many weddings or socials "back home" in recent years, either, so I have no idea whether the Butterfly is still a thing there either, although I suspect it probably is. )

From Wikipedia, I found this:

The butterfly dance is a dance move in which the dancer's legs move like butterfly wings. The move originated from the music genre Hip-hop and is also commonly seen in reggae type music.[1] The dance is a female move but male individuals have been seen to execute the move. This dance move originated in the 70s.

Ummm, no. That's NOT it.

I found some references to a Hopi tribe butterfly dance.  That's not it either.

I eventually found a couple of Yahoo Answers posts and a Google groups conversation (by changing the search term slightly to "old-fashioned butterly dance") that explains what I was thinking  about.

I thought the Butterfly might be a Prairie/Ukrainian thing. One person suggested it could also have French-Canadian roots.  

However, I also found several references to a "butterfly waltz" (here and here) in the U.S., in Texas and Missouri (whose roots were said by one source to be German!)  and to a similar dance known as "The Flying Dutchman."

Here's a video clip of "my" kind of Butterfly dance:

This video only shows one round of the slower music & one round of the fast, though... typically there would be a couple rounds of each.

Have you ever heard of/done the Butterfly dance (the kind I've described -- definitely not the hip-hop version, lol)?? 

*** *** ***

(Writing about this, another butterfly-related memory popped into my head: a song. I will write about that in a future post.)

Butterfly Dance - City Dance Studios

by Cora Harris

If you’re a lover of hip-hop or reggae music, you will sometimes see the dancer weaving their legs in and out to the beat of the music.

Wondering what that peculiar dance is? It’s most likely the butterfly dance.

You don’t even need to be a fan of hip-hop to see it. This simple dance can be seen at almost every party, small or big. People even dance the butterfly at weddings! For a lot of people, it’s part of their childhood.

In this guide, we will give you an overview of the butterfly dance as well as a tutorial on how to do it!Source:


  • What Is Butterfly Dance?
  • Butterfly Dance Origin
  • Butterfly Dance Move: How To Do It
    • Basic butterfly dance move
    • Add more flair to the basic move
  • Butterfly Dance Attires
  • Final Words

What Is Butterfly Dance?

The butterfly dance gets its name from the distinct movement of the dancer’s legs as they perform it. Weaving back and forth, it looks like they’re mimicking the motion of a pair of butterfly wings. Hence the name.

Butterfly Dance Origin

The butterfly dance first appeared in the 1970s-90s. The hip-hop and reggae communities first began to use it in their performances. Eventually, it spread to other popular dances at the time, such as Dancehall and R&B.

It wasn’t surprising that they did. The dance is extremely simple and can fit on top of any piece of fast-tempo music.

However, “butterfly dance” isn’t just used to describe the dance wherein you weave your legs together. These days, it refers to any dance that has you weave, bend, spread, twist, or space out your body. For example, the Leg Wobble, Popping, and Stanky Legg can be called “butterfly dance.”

Even PSY’s famous Gangnam Style dance can be considered a butterfly dance!

Butterfly Dance Move: How To Do It

Basic butterfly dance move

The classic butterfly dance is typically performed by females only. But these days, nobody cares about that anymore. It’s a unisex dance that anyone can bust out if you’re in the mood for it.

Dancing the butterfly is simple. Start off with your feet apart, a bit wider than the length of your shoulders.

Slightly lower your body at the knees, then bend them inward. Push them outward again. Keep doing this in-and-out motion to the beat of the music. Imagine the motion of a butterfly’s wings as you do this. It should make practicing and dancing easier.

Add more flair to the basic move

To stand out on the dance stage, you will need to add a bit more flourish to your movement.

  • Start off first with your waist. Waist movement is very important if you’re dancing to reggae. Wind your waist in a circular motion, starting first clockwise. As you bend your waist to your right, angle your leg inward.
  • As you return to a straight position, “flap” your legs.
  • Wind your waist counter-clockwise next. Repeat the same pattern and motion.
  • Not just the lower body, introduce your arms and upper body movement to the dance, as well! Hold them up in the air, or wave them gently as you turn your body.

Butterfly Dance Attires

Like most hip-hop dances, there’s really no formal attire to dancing the butterfly. It depends on the party you’re going to and the people you’re with. If you’re among friends or you’re busting it out on a Dance Dance Revolution machine, you can dance in your pajamas if it makes you comfortable!

But generally speaking, we recommend you to wear loose-fitting clothes. Like sweatpants or a loose T-shirt. If you’re at a party, the butterfly isn’t going to be the only dance that you’re going to do throughout the night.

As for footwear, you should wear something that pad your feet well and keep them safe and protected, such as trainers. You don’t necessarily have to wear specialized dance shoes, but if you have a pair, it’s not a bad idea to take them out and wear them!

Check more: All about Crip Walk Dance

Final Words

The butterfly dance is quite interesting: there’s very little recorded information about it. Nonetheless, probably everyone has seen it before or knows someone whose favorite move is it. And it’s never too late to practice and introduce it to your own repertoire! Maybe it’s going to become your favorite dance, too.

Butterfly Dance - Choreographic Ensemble Inspiration

Dance has always been an opportunity not only to express one's feelings, but also to show the audience a story, to enjoy the choreographic elements, the harmony of the team and the music that is selected specifically for this dance .

In search of interesting ideas for direct implementation already on the stage, many directors with great pleasure organize butterfly dance, which will always look amazingly beautiful - both performed by children and adults.

Selection of costumes for the Butterfly dance

It is quite natural that such a choreographic number as butterfly dance requires suitable stage costumes. In particular, the need for costumes arises if a large group of dancers will dance at once.

The main element of the costume for this dance is the wings of a butterfly. Due to the fact that the movements of such a dance can be with supports, it would be best not to sew the wings on your own, but to buy them in a specialized store, this will guarantee the strength and durability of the structure.

You can sew the main part of such a suit yourself. For this, it is recommended to use all bright colors. At the same time, when sewing a children's costume, it is necessary that the child takes part in the process, this will give the young dancer even more inspiration. nine0003

On the head, from a simple hair hoop, you can, and even need to make antennae like a butterfly. To do this, use brown ribbons and soft wire.

Selection of music for the Butterfly dance

Butterfly dance initially involves soft and very smooth movements, and therefore it is not necessary to select bright compositions with a swift flow for whirling butterflies. You can choose classical compositions, which is surprising, a huge number of composers have creations with the same name "butterfly dance" or musical works, the names of which are somehow connected with nature. nine0003

Children's butterfly dance can be sounded quite calmly with modern compositions, for this you just need to drive in the Internet request " butterfly dance music ", but you should carefully monitor the correctness of the text, if it is present, so that no one is left with a double Feel.

What movements does the butterfly dance use?

In order to come up with movements for such a dance for children, it is worth understanding how fruitfully the selected choreographer will be able to interact with a group of children. Since, as a rule, children are chosen as the theme for the number with the dance of butterflies, it is worthwhile to understand that they will not be able to repeat and remember too complex movements. nine0003

You can learn a lot of interesting and suitable things using the Internet by entering the query “ butterfly dance video”, where a huge number of ready-made options for choreographic type numbers are already presented. However, you should not copy the dance moves completely in the whole combination - bring something of your own.

Can boys dance the Butterfly dance?

Dance group can consist not only of girls, but also of boys. That's why you have a huge number of options and ideas about this. nine0003

Thus, the choreographic group can show pair dances of boys and girls, tell the story of butterflies and bugs, and even make a whole musical performance on stage. You just have to show quite a bit of imagination and invention in order to create the number that will appeal not only to the audience, but also to the children who will perform the number.

The main thing is not to forget that the presented kind of dance carries a certain smoothness, so too energetic movements and music will be inappropriate. nine0003

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