3 Dances of Middle Earth

3 Dances of Middle Earth


Who doesn’t love a great fantasy novel? Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series has become a timeless classis and the focus of fandom. But what dances would they have done in middle earth? Films give us a glimpse of what dances they might have done. I will go deeper in the spirit of the era that Tolkien studied and wrote about and look at 3 dances of middle earth.

Dances of Middle Earth

Middle earth in Tolkein’s books resemble the middle ages. I researched 3 dances of the middle ages that would fit three heroic people group. I will look at the dances of the Dwarves, the Hobbits, and the Elves.

1st dance of Middle Earth: Dwarves

Rosie Cotton and Dwarf dancer

The first dance I will delve into will be for the Dwarves. Dwarves are fun to look at because they are real as well as wrapped into mystic lore. I was inspired by the drinking song the dwarves sang at Rivendell in the movie the Hobbit. They sang a variation of “hey diddle diddle” that Tolkien had researched and included in his book.

In The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Bofur sings a revised version of this song whilst eating in Rivendell. The song’s lyrics are as follows:

“There’s an inn, there’s an inn, there’s a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,
And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat
that plays a five-stringed fiddle;
And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,
a jig that would wake the dead:
He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
‘It’s after three!’ he said.

The dance I researched for Tolkien’s Dwarves was an ancient Viking dance. I found the re-enactment out of the Viking museum in Norway. It is like other medieval branle dances (brawl). The song I used for this demonstration is “Medieval Viking Dance of Swords.” The pattern is not complicated, so it would allow us to use the drinking chant above while dancing.

Viking Dance for Tolkien Dwarves

Dance Dwarf Galadriel

Begin holding hands in a circle. Everyone dances a double to the left (1-side left foot, 2-close right foot to left foot,3- side left foot, 4-kick right foot) then add a 5-right foot side step and a 6- left foot kick. Repeat this sequence to the end of the song. For fun sing the man on the moon lyrics while you dance.

2nd Dance of Middle Earth-Hobbits


Shire Hobbits are merry folk. Depicted at taverns and parties having a good time drinking and dancing. I based my Hobbit dance (link) off the dancing at Frodo’s birthday in Lord of the Rings. It looks like a merry Jig danced in partnership. The song they used in the movie is “Flaming red Hair” by Howard Shore.

Here is my Hobbit dance how to. The Basic rhythm is Quick, Quick, Slow, or 1&2. The hobbits used a traditional dance position. Position Leaders in front of the followers slightly offset to the left, leaders place their right hand on the followers left shoulder blade, and follower’s left hand follows the line of the leader’s right arm. Leaders gently clasp the follower’s right hand with their left hand at eye level.

Leaders, Skip to the Left (Triple step – left, right, left.), followed by a Skip to the Right (Triple step – right, left, right.) Followers, Skip to the Right (Triple step – right, left, right.) followed by a Skip to the Left (Triple step – left, right, left.). The basic step can be danced in line facing one another or rotating to the right. We demonstrated in our video facing, promenade, underarm turn to right, and rotating to right.

dance samwise rosie (2)

3rd Dance of Middle Earth- Elves

dance arwin elrond galadriel

The elves described by Tolkien with a jolly lot with vivacious singing, dancing and merry making. The Elves in the Lord of the Rings films were more solemn, and they were always processing somewhere. In the spirit of the movie, I chose a medieval processional Basse Dance called “La Dame.” The earliest record of a basse danse is found in an Occitan poem of the 1320s by Raimon de Cornet, who notes that the joglars performed them. There are 3 beats to each measure, more accurately counted as six (“one, two, three, FOUR, five, six”).  Basse dance generally uses five basic steps, each step (or pair of steps for singles) takes one measure.

clone tag: 8035600822899059618

clone tag: 8035600822899059618

The very basic steps are:

  • (R) Reverence
    1 relieve (calf raise), 2 then lower left leg back and bend right knee lowering straight down, 3 straighten, 4 then return feet to close.
  • (b) Branle
    Lift heals up 3x, then both down on 4th (like a stationary double) to the 1 beat
  • (s) Single
    Step close without weight, t measures or 6 q counts
  • (d)  Double
    3 steps forward on the toes, close on the 4th step (1 measure per step, or 3 quick beats)
  • (r) Desmarche (or reprise)
    1 point back, 2 Lunge back, 3 straighten,4 pull in, hold (4 measures)

Order of steps for La Dame
Basse La Dame per Salisbury Ms., (20 bars)

Begin- R  b
Frist sequence ss  ddd  rrr  b
Second sequence, ss  d  r  b
Last sequence ss  ddd  r  b

dance Arwin Elrond Galadriel (2)

Holly Collins
WEDDING DANCE instruction
author of
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Winner of the Knot best wedding dance,
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Champion Ballroom Dancer & Coach

owner of
Adventures in Dance

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