The Chicken Dance ("Dance Little Bird")

Please tell me, if you have additional information. THANKS!

Do you know?

I'll try to get some information about this dance:


The German name

I think the "Chicken Dance" is called something like "Ententanz" or "Vogerltanz" in German. But I am not sure and only "Ententanz" can be certified (see below).

The origins

The "Chicken Dance" is definitively not a traditional folk dance. However, it is very popular on Oktoberfests and such events.

See the "Hokey Pokey" as well.

The Author of the Chicken Dance

I'v got some information by email, this is my summary:
From: Thomas Marcel <swissmusic@spectraweb.ch>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996

Thomas WERNER is the parent of Ententanz (Chicken Dance)

The Address : Via Arch Frizzi 6
              CH-6648 Minusio 

Worldwide 43.000.000 saled LP's and singles. 
Worldwide more than 140 versions of this song.

If you need more infos, send email to <swissmusic@spectraweb.ch>


Please read the following postings/mails concerning the "Chicken Dance" ... (Other resources at the end of this page.)

Posting from Paul M. Gifford

From: <gifford_p@lib.flint.umich.edu> (Paul M. Gifford)
Newsgroups: rec.folk-dancing
Subject: Re: What's this German dance?
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 17:04:58

In article <gifford_p.873.000928E4@lib.flint.umich.edu>
<gifford_p@lib.flint.umich.edu> (Paul M. Gifford) writes:
>From: <gifford_p@lib.flint.umich.edu> (Paul M. Gifford)
>Subject: What's this German dance?
>Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 09:09:31

Thanks to all who responded to this question, mostly privately.  Here's a 
summary.  The English name is the "Chicken Dance," and it seems to be very 
widely known.  Apparently it is danced as far west in Europe as Spain and 
France, and eastward to Romania and perhaps Croatia.  I still haven't learned 
the German name ("Huehnetanz?").

In the U.S., it seems to be a staple at weddings in cultures regarded both as 
"ethnic," as in the German area around San Antonio, TX, and the 
Croatian-American community in Pittsburgh, and non-ethnic weddings in 
Milwaukee and Rochester, NY.  I mentioned it as a staple of dances in 
communities of recent Romanian immigrants in Detroit and Chicago (where it was 
definitely brought from Europe, not learned here).

OK, it's a silly dance, but sure has found its way around.  Does the "Herr 
Schmidt" approach it in popularity?  I don't think so, but it might be 
interesting to find out.

Paul Gifford

Mail from Thomas Konicek

Date: Wed, 20 Mar 1996 03:29:52 -0800
From: Thomas Konicek <tkkonicek@earthlink.net>
Subject: "Chicken Dance" Research


I'm currently working on a piece which features (what we Americans call) "The 
Chicken Dance"--a comedic song-dance played at Oktoberfests (including 
Munich's) in which participants flap their arms, twirl, and squat 
progressively faster with the music, until finally working themselves into a 
frenzy. I realize that a purist [...] probably does not consider "The 
Chicken Dance" to be true "folk dancing". On the other hand, I've been told 
by a polka afficionado that it's not a polka either. Having run out of 
ideas, I'm hoping that _whatever_ it is, you or your colleagues might 
nevertheless at least point me in the direction of some useful information.

Specifically, what I'm interested in are sources (web sites, encyclopedias, 
standard reference works, etc.) which might address such things as: How old 
is the song? Who wrote it? Where did it originate? How did it get associated 
with the funny dance and with Oktoberfest celebrations? Has it ever been 
featured in a book or film? Etc.


--Kevin Konicek (tkkonicek@earthlink.net)

Mail from Alvin K Chock

Date: 	Tue, 18 Jun 1996 16:24:33 -1000
From: Alvin K Chock <alchock@hawaii.edu>
Subject: Alleged "Chicken" Dance

Reference, "The Chicken Dance" on
<http://www.ft.tuwien.ac.at/dance/misc/chicken.html> which we downloaded on
June 14.

We purchased a cassette tape, ENTENTANZPARTY, Chor & Orchester Wilde-Enten
GmbH, about ten years ago when we were living in Europe.  The first number
is "Ententanz (Dance Little Bird)".  The inside flyer lists the authors as
Thomas/Rendall/Hose.  The tape is produced by Miller International
Schallplatten GmbH, 2085 Quickborn bei Hamburg (Fed. Rep. Germany).  With
these non-Germanic names, one is inclined to think that the authors may be
a bunch of Brits?  The German word Enten refers to ducks, and not
chickens.  I had never heard of the dance being referred to as a Vogeltanz
in German.  I do know that it is included in a number of parties during
the Karnival (in northern Germany) and Fasching (in Bavaria and associated
areas), the celebration, which begins in November,but actually culminates
in a frenzy of activities a couple of weeks just before Lent, and also
during Oktoberfest (please notice the "k" in Oktober).

We'll eventually write to the record company and ask if they can provide
more information.

The tape actually belongs to my wife, Yona Chock, who is an
Artist-in-Residence in the Hawai'i public schools, and teaches "American
Folk Dance" in an 8 session (one hour each) program (for all classes in
one grade; i.e., 125-150 students), and this, among other dances, is
included.  We use the dance as follows: (1) beak movements with thumb and 
forefingers, (2) wing flapping, (3) wiggling the bottom, and (4) hand

In the chorus we do a series of arm turns, right arms, left arms, etc.  If
you have a circle or square, you can do it with your partner, corner,
partner, corner, etc.

Alvin (Al) Keali'i Chock

Mail from the composer's son

Date: Thu, 25 Jul 1996 10:52:29 +0000
From: Rampa computer-engineering <rampacomputer@access.ch>
To: <roland@ws01.ft.tuwien.ac.at>
Subject: Ententanz

ich bin grad ein wenig beim surfen. Hab den Namen Ententanz eingegeben 
und war erstaunt was es da gibt. 
Denn , mein Vater Werner Thomas ist der Komponist des Ententanzes auch 
( Tchip-Tchip,Vogeltanz,Dance de Canards, Song of Chicken etc) 
weltweit existieren ca 140 Versionen und es wurden ca 40 Millonen 
Schallplatten davon verkauft.dieses Lied wurde end 70er Jahre von 
meinem Vater in Davos (Schweiz) komponiert.
Mein Vater hat dieses Lied ursprünglich für Handharmonika gemacht.
Für weitere Fragen wendet man sich bitte an meinen Vater, da wir zur 
Zeit weder eine E-Mail noch einen Internet zugang besitzen.Tel: 
Schweiz 091 743 78 58 Adresse: Werner Thomas, Via Arch Frizzi 6, 6648 
Minusio ( Schweiz)


Newsgroups: rec.folk-dancing
From: <buhlemann@aol.com> (BUhlemann)
Date: 9 Oct 1996 23:51:13 -0400

The dance originated in Germany some years ago before it came here.  It
was called the Ententanz there ( Duck dance, literally), and in fact is
called the "Ducky dance" in St. Louis as well, in the German community.  I
have even seen it done in Andorra (sung in Catalonian) 14 years ago.
          John Uhlemann
John Uhlemann
From: "Gregory J. Bilhartz" <gbilhartz@worldnet.att.net>
Subject: "The Chicken Dance" ("Dance Little Bird")
Date: Mon, 7 Jul 1997 16:37:48 -0400

I direct the 20-piece Hermann Sons German Band in San Antonio and the
45-piece Blasmusik Texas or Texas All-State German Band, both volunteer
bands, but consisting of professional caliber musicians. The latter group
meets only about three times a year since our musicians come from all parts
of Texas for the occasion. We never play a program without including the
"Chicken Dance." Both our bands play at the New Braunfels Wurstfest — the
biggest German-style Fest in Texas, held the first 10 days of November
annually — where this number is so popular  that the Fest management has
imposed a rule on all bands: "Don't play the Chicken Dance more than once
per hour!"
We use a band arrangement from Siegfried Rundel Music Publishers in
Germany, which has parts for a full American concert band. The composer is
Werner Thomas and the arranger is Joe Grain. The title on band parts (which
are intended for use by town bands in Germany) is not "Chicken Dance,"
"Duck Dance," or "Vogeltanz," but  "Dance Little Bird." However, I have
never heard a German call it anything but "Vogeltanz."
I also operate a business from my home, importing band music from
publishers in Germany, and music arrangements from my collection are the
basis for our two bands' repertoire. Over the years "Dance Little Bird" has
been by far our best seller. The full band arrangement is priced at $21.
You may reply to
[... the]
e-mail address 
or I can be contacted directly in the old fashioned way
at Box 162, Medina, Texas 78055. Phone: (830) 589-2268.  
Herbert Bilhartz

Wisconsin, USA

From: Matt Brukman <mbrukman@litho.eecs.berkeley.edu>
Subject: Chicken Dance
Date: Sun, 22 Nov 1998

Performances of the dance are not restricted to weddings and Oktoberfest
celebrations, at least not in Wisconsin, USA. The University of Wisconsin
Marching Band performs it at all of its games and during its post-game
performances. The students in particular enjoy dancing to the song in the
bleachers (they request the band to it by clapping as in the first step of
the dance). 

In the last step, the students link arms at the elbows and spin each other
around. Instead of changing direction, they release their partners at random
times and link-up with someone else nearby. The band repeats the tune a
number of times, increasing tempo until the crowd cannot keep up.  

The band has a CD of their material, including the Chicken Dance (though
it's titled "Dance Little Bird" on the disk) and I believe that composers
are listed. 

Missouri, USA

Von: Carol
Subject: It's a DUCK!
Datum: Wed, 21 Jul 1999

I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, USA .  There is a large German heritage
in many communities around and in St. Louis.  All of my life, I have only
heard the song and Dance referred to as "THE DUCK DANCE. " I have even
heard it referred as the DUCK DANCE on the Spanish Language cable tv
network UNIVISION, on a children's show.  It wasn't until I lived in
Pennsylvania for 5 years that I heard it called the CHICKEN DANCE . 

Do we know when the division took place?

(I can't believe people have it at their wedding reception!)

Other resources

See as well ...