Since the 17th century, Ballet has either been means of expressing a theme or narrating a story through the medium of dance. However, Ballet is unique because it effectively concentrates on factors such as choreography, music, plot and decoration. One such recognizable pieces of Ballet is the Trepak Dance. Considered as the most distinguished dances in the Pyotr Ilyich Tchailkovsky’s famous ballet, The Nutcracker, Trepak is one of the several ethnic dances based on the traditional Ukrainian folk dance. Most often, Trepak is considered as the ‘Russian dance’ and is arguably the most popular dance of the ballet. Although Trepak is a musical dance form indigenous to Ukraine and makes use of ethnic Ukrainian folk melodies, it is more often heard as the dance of the Nutcracker.

How did it originate?

According to the historians, very little is known about the historical background of the Trepak Dance. However, there is a little history about the dance from the Nutcracker.  It has been recorded that the dance was developed and danced by the Ukrainian Cossacks even before Ukraine was taken over by Russia. Hence, one can say that the dance is tied to the Ukrainian traditions and has nothing to do with the costumes, music and choreography of Russia and its culture. Trepak was never danced as a part of the traditional cultural dance of Russia. Both ‘Trepak’ and ‘Hopak’ were never suggested Russian in origin by the Soviet government and were considered as distinct Ukrainian national dances. In Russia, it was only danced by the ballet dances in the Nutcracker.

What are its techniques?

The dance has a repeated pattern which gets faster slowly throughout the dance. The instruments used in the dance generally create a picture of an increasing tension in the dance. The technique of the dancers includes high jumps and spins and as the music gets louder, the dancers jump. The intensity of the music creates poses a tremendous challenge before the dancers and the musicians making the audience wonder how high, long and fast can these dancers and musicians go. 

Which musical instruments are needed to perform Trepak?

According to the Nutcracker, the dance is written in AABA form and is played in a presto tempo. With a signature of 2/4 and in the key of G major, this piece uses an entire symphony. The four important instruments include the strings, brass, woodwinds and the percussion. The intensity of the music depends on the increase in tempo and dynamics.

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