That Russian Squat Dance

aka: Cossack Dance
One of the lesser-known skills all KGB agents must master. President Putin not in this pic. Or is he?

You know the one the dancers squat down with arms folded and kick. If a Husky Russkie is celebrating a victory for Glorious Mother Russia, he is 90% likely to be doing this dance.

It's commonly known as the Cossack Dance, but this is one of those cases of mislabeling by foreigners. In Ukraine, "Cossack Dance" or Kazatsky, is another name for the Ukrainian Hopak stage dance. The squat-and-kick move is properly called prisyadka (knee-bending) and is just one part of the dance, but it's the only part known to most non-Russians. It's one of the more difficult parts of the dance, requiring good balance and substantial leg muscle strength, but of course Mother Russia Makes You Strong.

Kazachok is a Ukrainian folk dance sometimes confused with it.

Fun fact: There is a martial art based on Hopak dancing.

Examples:

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Anime and Manga

Comics
  • An issue of Topolino, the Italian Mickey Mouse comic book, had Fethry Duck literally kicking Donald Duck's ass this way, as seen on the cover.
  • Nero: Nero does this dance when surrounded by Russian soldiers in Het Vredesoffensief van Nero ("The Peace Initiative of Nero") to make them believe he is one of them. He, of course, fails and the guards want to take him in. Nero then asks them if they can do it better, whereupon all soldiers start doing the dance. Nero then pushes everybody down to the floor and runs away.

Film
  • Elf: Buddy, drunk in the mail room (having mistaken alcohol for syrup), entertains the workers by doing this dance on a table.
  • In The Cossacks, they do this when partying with some Gypsy women after a raid.
  • Spoofed as part of the disco-dance flashback scene in Airplane, in which Ted Stryker defies the laws of physics.
  • A Shot In The Dark, one of the films in The Pink Panther series, Clouseau is coaxed into joining in a troupe of dancers - and promptly rips his trousers. In the same film, a dancer doing this move is killed after drinking poisoned vodka.
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull features some soldiers dancing happily like this in front of a campfire.
  • The climax of The Man Who Knew Too Little has the titular character stand in for the lead dancer in one of these.
  • Simon is doing the Cossack Dance in the music video of "Christmas Don't be Late" in the film Alvin and the Chipmunks.
  • The Mask - Stanley easily dodges a hail of bullets, transforming into a matador, a Cossack, Vegas Elvis, and a movie cowboy.
  • The Mamushka in The Addams Family is one of these. The fact that Gordon is able to dance it is one of the tip-offs that he is really Fester Addams.
  • One of the many dances that shows up in Bedknobs and Broomsticks during the musical number "Portobello Road."
  • The Three Stooges had a famous running gag involving this, wherein somebody would hurt their foot or otherwise hop around in pain rhythmically. The Stooges would then begin clapping in rhythm and take up the dance with multiple variations and vaguely Russian chanting.
  • The Leningrad Cowboys miserably fail to dance like this at a campfire in Leningrad Cowboys Go America. And they're supposed to be Russians.
  • Seen in October when the Bolshevik operatives infiltrate the army of monarchist Gen. Kornilov and make friends. This results in the failure of Kornilov's coup attempt.
  • In Patton, Russian soldiers do this at a party after Third Army has linked up with the Soviets at the end of the war. Patton, who hates the Russians, is not impressed.
  • Vasyl does the hopak dance in Earth, although he does not bust out the squat move.
  • In Downfall, a few Russian soldiers can be soon doing this as they celebrate their victory in Berlin.
  • U.S. Ambassador Joseph Davies' daughter sees some Russians doing this at an outdoor party in Mission to Moscow and wishes that she could learn now to dance like that.

Literature
  • A rare female example: Tib in Betsy-Tacy is mentioned as being able to do this dance, using it as the grand finale of her show dance.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Firebird has Ilya use this as a form of exercise (since he's currently playing The Fool he can't do normal version of keeping in shape) and the narration makes a point of mentioning all the various moves part of it, not just the squatting.

Live-Action TV
  • At one point, Drew Carey appeared to be about to do some of this, then his back gave out.
  • Parodied on The Muppet Show: Pig Muppets in cossack costumes dance like this, one of them kicks with both legs at once and hovers in the air for a split second before falling to the floor.
  • Three Sheets included host Zane Lamprey asking a Russian about the dance in the Moscow episode. The Russian explained that they didn't dance like that... but that he knew how to, from watching American movies.
  • Battle Fever J, the third Super Sentai series, had each team member representing a different country and performing a national dance; no points for guessing what Battle Cossack's dance was.
  • Happy Days had an episode with a dance marathon, with Fonzie throwing this out as a challenge dance at the end, allowing he and his partner, Joanie, to win.
  • One season of The Amazing Race had the contestants doing this as part of a Detour. MANY of the contestants, both male and female opted to do this, although not without some pain (or trouser splits!)
  • Mocked in an episode of Hogan's Heroes after Schultz says he'll be sent to the Russian front if Colonel Klink ever does a thorough roll-call and discovers one of Hogan's men is missing.
    Colonel Hogan: (sarcastically) Don't tell me you're afraid of a bunch of guys who dance sitting down?
  • So You Think You Can Dance: Part of the Russian Folk Dance on the season one of its performers (one Jeanine Mason) would go on to win. KALINKA!

Musical
  • Fiddler on the Roof during the song "To Life".
  • A bit of this shows up in the choreography for "The Soviet Machine" in the London production of Chess.
  • Act 2 of Riverdance features an elaborate (and awesome) Russian dance number. It starts with Hopek-style dancing and turns it Up to Eleven.
  • Moskau by German band Dschinghis Khan seems to be associated with this in the minds of many. They never actually perform this at any point in the video, though.

Music
  • Featured a lot in the Basement Jaxx's music video for "Take Me Back to Your House". Bears get to dance, too.
  • The music video for the song Energia by Russkaja features this every time the chorus plays.
  • On Shirim's Klezmer reimagining of The Nutcracker, "The Russian Dance" is appropriately renamed "Kozatsky 'Till You Dropsky."

Pinball
  • Gomez and Uncle Fester do this in The Addams Family during The Mamushka, and throw their hands and feet every time a target is hit.

Professional Wrestling
  • Alex Koslov dons his hat before doing the squat dance to the head of an opponent in the "victim" position.

Theme Parks
  • The "It's a Small World" ride at Disney Land has a Russian puppet doing the squat dance.

Video Games

Web Original

Web Video

Western Animation
  • The Footloose episode of Avatar The Last Airbender had a similar dance.
  • The Futurama episode "A Taste of Freedom" opens with Fry walking in on everyone watching Zoidberg doing one of these in honour of the "Freedom Day" holiday. Fry decides to join in to avoid standing out. Subverts the traditional association with Communist Mother Russia with the chanted lyrics "freedom, freedom, freedom, OY!"
    • Later, a bunch of Uncle Sams on stilts are seen doing the dance.
  • Anastasia during the "Rumor in St. Petersburg" number.
  • The Russian puppets in Pinocchio do this.
  • Performed by thistles in Fantasia.
  • Boris the Russian goose performs one in Balto (complete with accompanying yells of "HEY!") in an attempt to cheer Balto up. For some reason, it doesn't work.
  • In the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Wizard of Odd", Doofenschmirtz's guards do this dance during their big number.
  • A Woody Woodpecker short where Woody disguises himself as a Russian visitor takes advantage of this dance to position himself to literally kick Wally Walrus in the butt but good.
  • A file photo of Homer Simpson doing this comes back to haunt him when he's accused of being a Communist after heading into Russian waters with a nuclear submarine.
  • In one Looney Tunes cartoon, Elmer Fudd is afraid he has Rabbititis, and rushes to see a doctor (who's Bugs Bunny in disguise). Bugs tests Elmer Fudd's reflexes by alternately hitting each knee with a rubber mallet, and alternates between each knee faster and faster until Elmer is doing this dance.
    • In another Elmer Fudd cartoon, ""The Big Snooze"", Bugs tells him to "Run this way!" to escape. This includes: doing a silly run, running upside-down, hopping like a frog, running upside-down again, yelling "Hey!", doing this dance, and yelling "Hey!" again before repeating.
    • The short Tin Pan Alley Cats has a scene of Josef Stalin kicking Adolf Hitler's butt doing the dance, with Hitler replacing "Hey!" with "Heil!".
  • Done in The Critic by Franklin during a square dance with either Ross Perot or his running mate.
  • This one of the Goofalototots' main shticks, the one that is based off Wakko from Animaniacs, in an episode of The Mask.
  • In an episode of Pinky and the Brain, both mice are subjected to Pavlovian conditioning, and every time a bell rings, Pinky does That Russian Squat Dance while Brain sings "I'm A Little Teapot" complete with actions.
  • In the Dilbert episode "The Dupey", after Dilbert's Dupey goes through its metamorphosis and becomes an ugly creature, Ratbert declares himself the cutest thing in the house again and does this dance.
  • In Oggy and the Cockroaches, this is the cockroaches' victory dance.
  • In Rise of the Guardians, North briefly does this across a rooftop before jumping down a chimney to get a tooth.


Alternative Title(s):

Cossack Dance, Kazatsky