Lasée is a traditional French folk dance that has origins dating back centuries. Characterized by its energetic movements and footwork, it has evolved over time into a dance form with standardized elements and techniques. While sometimes compared to similar dances like flamenco and tango, it has its own distinctive flair and remains an important part of French culture.
What is Lasée?
Lasée is a couples dance that originated in southern France. It is an upbeat dance performed to rapid 6/8 or 3/4 rhythms. The term “lasée” comes from the French word “lacer” meaning to interlace or tie together, referencing the intertwining footwork and patterns of the dance.
Some key features :
- Rapid footwork and leg movements
- Intertwining of partners’ steps
- Frequent turns and spins by both dancers
- Syncopated rhythms and accents
- Use of costumes such as full skirts for women
Overall, it is an energetic and lively dance marked by quick spins, hops, and carefree movements between partners.
History of Lasée
Origins and Early Development
It has its origins in traditional folk dances from southern French regions like Languedoc, Gascony, and Provence. Historians trace early forms of the dance back to the 18th century. The upbeat rhythms and footwork were influenced by nearby Spanish regions.
In early versions, it was improvised by couples at informal gatherings and celebrations. Different areas developed their own local variations. The dance started becoming more codified and spread to Paris salons and ballrooms in the late 1800s.
Spread to Other Regions
As lasée gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th century, it spread from southern rural areas to other parts of France. This included regions like Brittany, with cultural ties to Spain. Dance experts helped standardize and propagate steps and techniques during this period.
Lasée dance also spread abroad in the early 1900s, traveling with expat French communities in areas like London and New Orleans. It picked up new influences and variations abroad over decades.
Standardization of the Dance
In the mid-20th century, there were efforts to preserve and codify the essential elements that were defined. Dance masters helped record and standardize the steps, patterns, costumes, and music that were consistent markers of tradition. This allowed the folk dance to maintain its integrity and pass to new generations.
Today performers and aficionados carefully maintain these codified dance traditions, while still allowing for new innovations and interpretations. it has evolved while keeping its exuberant spirit.
It has certain core components that give it its distinctive flair. These standardized elements have helped maintain a unique dance form.
Traditional costumes help dancers move freely and accentuate the carefree spirit of the dance. Women often wear full, colorful skirts with layers of fabric that swirl dynamically during spins. Men typically wear fitted trousers or knee-length pants that allow agile footwork. Costumes feature decorative accents reflecting regional styles.
It is danced to uptempo melodies in a 6/8 or 3/4 time signature. The rapid rhythms drive the energetic footwork and spinning of the dance. Instruments like accordion, violin, tambourine, and guitar are commonly used to accompany. The melodies have a syncopated, perky quality.
Movements and Technique
The technique requires agility and coordination between partners. Key moves include rapid pivots, kicks, hops, and expressive arm motions. Footwork emphasizes rhythm and energy as partners turn and lace patterns together. Dancers maintain an upright posture and hold each other loosely to allow fluid mobility. The lively spirit of the music is reflected through the motions.
Differences Between Lasée and Similar Dances
While lasée shares some qualities with other lively partner dances, it has distinct characteristics that set it apart.
Comparison to Flamenco
Both lasée and flamenco are rapid, spirited dances from French and Spanish folk cultures respectively. However, flamenco has more dramatic arm and hand gestures compared to lasée’s wider range of leg motions. Flamenco’s movements are often improvised, while tends to follow predefined steps.
Comparison to Tango
Lasée and tango both involve close partnering and syncopated rhythms. Yet tango has a more grounded, romantic sensuality compared to the carefree abandon. The tango technique keeps partners chest-to-chest while allowing a freer range of movement. The musical rhythms of each dance also contrast.
Popularity and Cultural Significance
It holds an important place both as a historical folk dance and a living art form today.
Role in French Culture
As a long-standing dance tied to regional French identity, it is part of the cultural fabric. Lasée dance groups keep the tradition alive by passing down codified steps and costumes. Performances at French cultural events celebrate this heritage.
Influence on Other Dance Forms
Elements of footwork and partnering influenced the development of dances like swing, salsa, and zouk. The rapid spins and swiveling steps transferred into many social dances. it helped shape the energetic momentum of later partner dances.
With its deep roots in French tradition and lively self-expression, Lasée continues to delight both casual and expert dancers. Its syncopated zest and graceful partnering give universal appeal. As an emblem of French joie de vivre, it promises to persist as a treasured folk dance for generations to come. Learning its basic steps is an enjoyable way to connect with French culture.