Russian Folk Dancing

The Russian squat dance… aka the "kazachok" or "Kozachok dance," "Cossack dance," "Gopak dance," "Hopak dance," and that "dance where you kick your feet out while your arms are crossed," is not only fun, but interesting and a great way to get in shape!

Did you know it is believed that the dance originated as a way of fighting? It is true… men practiced the squat dance to enhance their muscles and endurance. Cossacks, soldiers, sailors, officers, and fist fighters danced this dance the most back in the day, and even today!

Russian Cossack Dancer


What is so cool about the dance is that there really is no right or wrong way. Though it is often a fast paced dance, you do not need to bounce on beat. A seasoned cossack dancer will often add their own small moves, such as a hand clap or a twist of the foot. Anything really. Sometimes there is a dance-war. Two dancers will face off, taking turns, trying to copy their opponents exact moves while doing the squat dance. The cossack dance is also seen in a circle formed by a large group of people. Fun!

If you have never done it, try it! (it is way harder than it looks)

Other tidbits on the Squat Dance

  • The Hopak dance is considered the National Dance of the Ukraine.
  • There is a martial art based on Hopak dancing.
  • Television’s So You Think You Can Dance had a Russian squat dance ensemble which including traditional Russian folk dress and difficult choreography.

About the author

Lindsey Mae is freelance artist who enjoys writing fun blog posts for and The Russian Store.