Thanks, Sky! I always thought that the folk dancing tradition might have something to do with Russia's enjoyment of related dance arts such as ballet and figure skating. Not only is there the idea that dancing is just as much a "guy thing" as sports, but many dances are done in rather ornate traditional ethnic costumes, which can predispose people to think that men wearing brightly colored clothes are entirely masculine (--and I agree).

By contrast, America's sensibilities come from uptight Anglo-Saxon puritans, who thought that dancing was not just unmanly but scandalous, and that emotional displays (except for anger, of course) were for--well, not for men, anyway.

I can also see that the southern tier of Russia might be entirely different from Slavic Russia; most of it is influenced by Central Asian traditions. (In fact, most of southern Russia is in Central Asia, come to think of it.) I imagine that many of the southern cultures' folk dances aren't even partner dances, as they are in Slavic Russia. Men and women dance separately.

Once, years ago, the Moisiev folk troupe came to the U.S., and my mom took me to see them. We were both transfixed by the foot-tapping music and the virtuosity of the dancers. I was a little kid, but I've never forgotten that exciting dancing. On a related topic: wasn't Katia Gordeyeva's father a member of a folk dance troupe?