Traditional Estonian Folk Dances

Estonian Traditional Folk Dances


Folk dance arranged by Anna Raudkats in the 1920’s in Tallinn. Music arranged by Ullo Toomi, piano arranged by B. Korver, and harp by J. Kotkas.

Ilusti kenasti

Folk dance choreographed by Salme ja Ott Valgemäe.

Jämaja Labajalg (Jämaja Flatfoot)

From Saaremaa, in the town of Jämaja. One of the oldest (1900) and most distinctually Estonian couples dances; said to have been danced by the “Jämaja” manor blacksmith (Jämaja mõisa sepp Easte-Jaak[1]). It is a flat footed, non-bouncing waltz step in which the dancer never rises on the toes.

Jooksupolka (Running Polka)

Couples dance from the Suure-Jaani kihelkond, choreographed by Üllo Toomi, music by Peeter Parbo, and harp by Kandle Juss in 1928.

Kalamies (Fisherman)

From the island of Kihnu.

Kaera Jaan

Traditional Estonian folk dance linked to the old European quadrilles. In 1889 a village blacksmith called Jaan hid himself in the Manor's washroom to peek at girls doing the laundry. Jaan was caught peeking and the girls came up with a teasing song about him. The song starts with the words: Kaera Jaan, Kaera Jaan get out and take a look! Originally it was a long song about this event but now we use only 2-3 stanzas. Nowadays everybody knows the song and the dance:

:,: Kaera-Jaan, oi Kaera-Jaan, oi karga välja kaema! :,:

:,: Kas on kesvad keerulised, kaerad katsa kandilised! :,:

:,: Kaera-Jaan, oi Kaera-Jaan, oi karga välja kaema! :,:

:,:Kas on kikas kaevu läinud, Kaera-Jaan ta välja toonud! :,:

:,: Kaera-Jaan, oi Kaera-Jaan, oi karga välja kaema! :,:

:,: Mis on Kaiel viga saanud, et ta valjult kiljatanud. :,:

Kanga kudumine (ehk Kanga koomine)

Old Swedish dance made into a Latvian dance by H. Suna. In the mid- 1900’s this dance was refined by Kristjan Torop.

Kiigemang (The game of the Swing)

Choreographed by Salme ja Ott Valgemäe in Tallinn in the mid 1900’s.

Kiigetants (Swing Dance)

Chorepgraphed by H. Mihkel in 1949 in Tartu. Music by H. Mihkel and D. Õunapuu. Piano arranged by H. Kõrvits.

Kivikasukas (Stone Jacket)

From Kiiu-Ablalt, near Loksa. This dance developed in the late 1700’s. The story behind the dance was that a man who had done wrong to his master was to beaten. To make the beating less painful, the man put a sheepskin under his shirt before the beating. When the man did not flinch during the beating, the one who was doing the beating was said to say, “What tricks do you have up your sleeve, do you have on a jacket made of stone?” Later, at the inn, the man bragged to his friends about he fooled the master. His friends, full of ale, then began to act out the scene of the stone jacket beating. This dance was danced later in a circle by old men, very clumsily, as to accentuate the beating.

Kosjatants (Wooing Dance)

Dance arranged by Üllo Toomi in 1948 in Tallinn to depict a proposal of marriage. Music was arranged by H. Kõrvits. It is dance full of youthful movements taken from older dances: Vana voortants (Old Circle Dance), Mustjala kõrge (Mustjala High), Viru valss (Waltz from town of Viru), and Jamaja labajalg (Flatfooted Waltz from town of Jamaja).


Old European folk dance from early 1900’s originating from Kumalu kihelkond, Hirveli küla (village). Arranged by Kristjan Torop in the 1950’s.

Kungla Polka (Choreographed dance of the Canadian group called “Kungla”)

A dance choreographed in the early 70s by Thomas Metsala and Lea Kiik, Toronto, Canada. They were so inspired by the lively Finnish polka music that he and Lea choreographed the dance to the lively music using traditional Estonian dance steps.


Setumaa (near Loksa). One of the songs the Setu people sang in the old days was called “Kirmaske laulu”. The author of the song has made a note at the end of the music to say that as the girls are singing this song, they should stand one behind the other like geese (hannad) in a row and dance while singing. The dance was later called “Hannatants" (Sabatants).

Targa Rehealune

This is a dance is from Muhu and is danced only by women. It has slow moving steps with bending up and down as if praying while moving in a circle. The women mutter two words “iidamta, aadamta” in a seemingly purposeless fashion. It is speculated that it was a time when the men could have been away at war or if many had died in battle.