polka, ballroom dance for couples in 2/4 time. Originated by Bohemian peasants about 1830 from steps of the schottische and other dances, the polka by 1835 reached the drawing rooms of Prague, from which it spread to the capitals of Europe. The modern polka is a mere remnant of a much livelier, more complicated dance based on five to ten intricate figures in which the partners tossed their feet in the air while executing turns in close embrace, toe-heel steps, and other movements. Related dances include the galop and the mazurka.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.