NEW: Videos of polka variations can be found at: libraryofdance.org/dances/polka

A collection of contemporary and vintage polka and galop variations.

Basic Polka Steps

  • Promenade (Skipping Forward)
  • Turning Basic (CW)
  • Turning Basic (CCW) (Zig Zag Back-the-Follow Entrance)
  • Pursuit (Back the Follow)
  • Pursuit (Back the Lead)
  • Vis a Vis (Face to Face, Back to Back)
  • Galop (Repeated Side Close to One Side)
  • Turning Galop (Side Close, Side Close, Side Close, Turn 180º)
  • Waltz à Deux Temps (Smooth Waltz on One, And, & Two), or:
    • Leap Waltz à Deux Temps (Similar, with a Leap on One)
    • Redowa à Deux Temps (Similar, but Redowa)
    • Reverse Waltz(es) à Deux Temps (Similar, Reversed)
  • Waltz Galop (Bouncy Leap Waltz on One, “a”, & Two)
    • Redowa Galop (Similar, but Redowa)
    • Reverse Waltz Galop(s) (Similar, Reversed)
  • Pivots

Polka Positions

  • Promenade, Half Closed Position
  • Promenade, Holding Hands
  • Closed Position
  • Two Hands
  • Crossed Hands
  • Moulinet of Single Hands (Polka with R-to-R, Polka with L-to-L)
  • Promenade, Skater’s Position
  • Promenade, Shadow Position

Polka Turns

Polka Sequences

  • Four Slide Galop (Four Slides, Flip on Fourth, Repeat Opposite)
    • a.k.a. Glide Polka, Coquette P., Rush P., Three Slide P.
  • Six Slide Galop (Six Slides, Flip on Sixth, Polka Once)
  • Esmeralda (Four Galop, Two Polka, Repeat Opposite)
  • Wave Galop (“Zig Zag Esmeralda”)
    • It’s unclear from the description whether the Wave Galop oscillates (in place or zig zag), or whether it equivalent to the Esmeralda. In any case, a Zig Zag Esmeralda is pretty cool.
  • The Portland (Vis a Vis x 2, Four Slide Galop x 2)
  • Polka Militaire (Coquette) (Open Position, Slide-Close Back and Look at Partner, Polka Forward, Repeat, Four Slide Galop x 2)
  • Polka Schottische (Open Polka x 2, Closed Polka x 2)
  • Omni Dance (Galop on Same Feet in Sidesaddle† Position)
  • Omni Dance in Skater’s, Hammerlock, Shadow, or Cradle Position*
  • Bohemian (Heel & Toe) (Heel-Toe-Polka x 2, Polka x 4)
  • Casting (Bohemian Flip-Flops) (Promenade Heel-Toe, Flip on Polka)
  • Combination Polka (Heel-Toe-Polka x 2, Four Slide, Polka x 2, Repeat Opposite)
  • Zulma L’Orientale (Polka x 2, Toe-Close, Polka, Repeat Opposite)
  • Hungroise (Click-2-3, Click-2-3, Full Redowa à Deux Temps)
  • Alternating Hungroise (1 Click/1 Redowa or 3 Clicks/1 Redowa)*
  • Hopping Hungroise (Click-Click-Click-Turn x 2, Polka x 4)
  • La Gitana Polka (Hop-Hop-Hop-Turn x 2, Polka x 4)*
  • Hop Walzer (2nd Foot Hop, Click, Half Hop Waltz à Deux Temps)
  • Hecla Galop (Polka (1 & 2), Cut (3), Leap (4), Repeat Opposite)
  • Cross Step Polka (Original) (She Four Slides While He Step-Hop-Cross-Hop-Polka, Flip and Switch)
  • Cross Step Polka (“Reconstruction“) (Both Step-Hop-Cross-Hop Polka, Both Galop) (As seen in the video, this also works, but it is not the dance which is described in the source.)

Reverse Polka Sequences

  • All of the Above Work in Reverse Turning Polka!*

Other Sequences That Work in Polka Time

  • Bronco (Back x 2, Newport x 2)
  • Bronco Schottische (Bronco, Waltz Galop x 4)
  • Bronco Schottische (Pivot Version) (see video)*
  • Bronco Schottische (Role Reversal Version) (see video)*
  • Ripple Galop (“Newport à Quatre Temps”) (Back, Side-Close x 3, Repeat Opposite)
  • The Jersey (Ripple Combination, “Waltzing Esmeralda”) (Waltz Gallop x 4, Ripple Gallop, Repeat Opposite)
  • Military Galop (Step-Hop x 4, Waltz Galop x 4)
  • Harvard (Back Two on L, Waltz Galop CW x 3 (360º), Back Two on R, Waltz Galop CCW x 3 (360º) – Full Description Here)
  • The Puritan Waltz (The Jubilee) (Slow Walk x 4, Waltz Galop x 4, Repeat Both, Waltz Galop x 16, Reversing Every 4)

Polka Sequences (in 3/4, 5/4, and 7/4)

  • Three Slide Galop (Three Galops, Flip on Third, Repeat Opposite)
  • Galop in 5/4 Time (Three Galops One Side, Two the Other)*
  • Galop in 7/4 Time (Polka x 2, Three Slide, Repeat Opposite)*
  • Other combinations are of course possible, such as Five Slide Galop, Seven Slide Galop, 2+3 Galop, 4+3 Galop, 3+4 Galop, 3+2+2 Galop, and 2+3+2 Galop, but we find the above easier and often more musical*

Role Reversal

  • Simply Switch the Hands
  • Waist Slide Role Reversal

Polka Troika

  • Promenade Figures (such as the figure described here)
  • Make Something Up (and let me know below!)

Similar Dances


For polka practice music, see Dancing Tunes – Polka.


Many variations learned from Richard Powers, Eric Sun and Karen Law, Susan de Guardiola, Campbell MillerMarcus Coker and Janie Austin, and Joan Walton. Others learned from M.B. Gilbert (1890), Round Dancing.

Others made up by Nick Enge and Danielle Baiata (*).

“Names” in quotes made up to help remember the figures.


† “Sidesaddle” position, as Richard Powers calls it, is similar to Skater’s Position. According to the Omni Dance source, “the gentleman places his right shoulder close to the back of the lady’s left shoulder, taking her left hand with his left, and placing his right hand round her waist” and “both commence with the left foot, the lady keeping her left foot at the front of the gentleman’s right foot.”

Original Descriptions

Described here, and in M.B. Gilbert (1890), Round Dancing: Polka, Four Slide Galop (as “Glide Polka” and “Four Step Galop”), Esmeralda, Bohemian (Heel & Toe), Combination Polka, The Portland, Three Slide Galop (as “Three Step Galop”), The Jersey, Ripple Galop, The Puritan Waltz, Wave Galop, Hecla Galop, Military Galop, The Harvard, and Polka Schottische.

Also included in Round Dancing, and yet to be danced: The Berlin, The Wave, The Ruchter (“Babies on Our Block,” “Little Sallie Waters”), The Duchess, New Side Step Polka, The Alsacian (“Berlin Polka,” “German Polka”), American Gavotte, Hornpipe Polka, The Metropolitan, The Carlton, The Antlers, The Ashland, Polka Russe, and Baby Polka, The Racket, Polish Galop, The Gaiety, L’Eclair, Narragansett Pier, The Fairy, Le Beau, and more in the Schottische chapters.


Know another good polka figure? Share it below!

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