La Koska

(La Cosca, La Roska)



This extended version of the Polka Mazurka is a great way to add some variety (and a bit of rest) to your Mazurka.

According to the first known description of the dance in Hillgrove's 1857 Scholar's Companion, it is a Polish dance that was introduced to New York in 1850 by Miss C. C. Williams. Hillgrove says that it originally had four figures, two of which were too difficult to become popular. A simplified version of the dance composed of the two easier figures was said to be a "great favorite" in 1857.

In 1867, Laurence De Garmo Brookes claimed that he composed the dance and introduced it in New York in 1850. It's possible that he did—perhaps he co-introduced it with Miss Williams—or it's possible that he was just trying to claim a popular dance as his own creation . Without further evidence, we can't know for sure. We do know, however, from newspaper advertisements, that Brookes and others were teaching La Coska in 1857.

Some sources, including Brookes, spell Koska with a C—La Coska—likely as a result of hearing the name of the dance, instead of seeing it. (Note: If Brookes is to be believed, the primary name of the dance should be La Coska, and La Koska is the misheard spelling.) To further complicate matters, Elias Howe spells it with an R—La Roska—but this is likely a result of misreading the fancy font used in the early Hillgrove sources. As you can see below, the K looks very similar to the R: you can only tell them apart if you already know they're different.

The Position

Waltz position throughout.

The Dance

Figure 1 of La Koska is a simple combination of three Mazurka steps and one Polka Redowa.

"Slide-cut-lift* x 3, slide-cut-leap," turning 180° at the end of 12 counts.

* Some descriptions have an alternate Mazurka step at the beginning: slide-and-slide-cut (1-and-2, 3) [LB67, MG90].

Repeat it all with the opposite foot, dancing it over the elbows.

Figure 2 is simply four Polka Redowas turning to the right, followed by four Polka Redowas turning to the left.

Today, La Koska is often further simplified to Figure 1, which is then alternated with other Mazurka variations (including Figure 2).

The Music

Mazurka music.

Elias Howe [EH68] provides a snippet of music specifically for the dance.


© 2015, 2019 Nick Enge

For more, see our two books on dancing:
Waltzing: A Manual for Dancing and Living (2013) by Richard Powers and Nick Enge,
and Cross-Step Waltz: A Dancer's Guide (2019) by Richard Powers and Nick & Melissa Enge.

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