This article deals with cultural confrontations and ideological contestations concerning the perception
and reception of foreign ‘modern’ and domestic folk dances in the Netherlands between 1918
and 1955. Many contemporary intellectuals were cultural pessimists who regretted the demise of
‘organic’ ties between people. They idealized rural ‘folk culture’, and criticized the ‘cosmopolitan’
culture they ascribed to urbanites. They launched civilizing missions with respect to performing
foreign dances, while presenting ‘traditional’ folk dances as a socio-culturally beneficial alternative.
However, folk dances also proved to be a site of contention and conflict, particularly concerning
their ‘authenticity’ and practical use.