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Chicken Dance, The

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Werner Thomas

Werner Thomas (arr. Vincent)

This work bears the alternate title "Dance Little Bird."

General Info

Year: 2004
Duration: c. 3:00
Difficulty: II 1/2 (see Ratings for explanation)
Publisher: Alfred Publishing
Cost: Score and Parts - $50.00   |   Score Only - $8.00


Full Score
C Piccolo/Flute
B-flat Soprano Clarinet
B-flat Soprano Saxophone
Eb Alto Saxophone (optional)
E-flat Baritone Saxophone
B-flat Trumpet I-II
Horn in F
Horn in Bb
Low Brass & Woodwinds Bass Clef I-II
Low Brass & Woodwinds Treble Clef I-II
Electric Bass/Optional Baritone (Tuba double)
Percussion, including:

  • Bass Drum, tonal
  • Bells
  • Crash Cymbals
  • Drum Set
  • Quad Toms
  • Snare Drum
  • Tambourine
  • Xylophone



None discovered thus far.

Program Notes

The Chicken Dance, also known as the Birdie Song, is an oom-pah song, and its associated fad dance is now a contemporary dance throughout the Western world. The song was composed by accordion (Handharmonika) player Werner Thomas from Davos, Switzerland, in the 1950s.

The name of the original Swiss song was Der Ententanz (The Duck Dance). It is rumored to be a drinking song sung at Oktoberfest. Sometime in the late 1970s, the song acquired the name Vogeltanz (The Bird Dance) or Vogerltanz (Little Bird Dance or Birdie Dance), although these names never caught on seriously in Germany. On some sheet music and recordings it is called Dance Little Bird.

Since 1963 Werner Thomas had played it in restaurants and hotels. During one of Thomas's performances, Belgian producer Louis van Rijmenant heard the song. Van Rijmenant had some lyrics created and in 1970 released it to the public through his publishing company, Intervox Music. On subsequent releases of the song, Van Rijmenant was listed as co-author under the pen name of Terry Rendall. The dance and song was originally brought from Germany to the U.S. by Eddie Duling and Larry Karhoff of Glandorf, Ohio, in 1974. They gave a copy of the song to the local radio station, and history was made.

Since then the song has become known under numerous other "birdie" names, including Vogerltanz (Bird Dance), Danse des Canards, Baile de los Pajaritos, Chicken Dance and Dance Little Bird. Over 140 versions of it are recorded worldwide, including various versions that were released by Walt Disney Records, together making over 40,000,000 records.

The dance was reintroduced in the United States in 1981 during the Tulsa, Oklahoma, Oktoberfest. They wanted to demonstrate their love through dance in costumes, but there were no duck costumes available anywhere near Tulsa. At a local television station, however, a chicken costume was available which was donated for use at the festival, giving The Chicken Dance its name. A 1982 performance on the Nationwide Television Show P M Magazine featuring Wisconsin Orchestra Leader Norm Edlebeck further popularized the song.

Also in 1982, polka-loving cover band The Emeralds, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, recorded a polka-inspired version of the song, released by K-Tel records. The album Bird Dance went double-platinum in Canada, and gold in Australia. The song also contributed to the success of multiple gold albums for The Emeralds in 1983 and 1984. The song went on to further fame when it was used in two movies: John Paizs's cult classic Crime Wave, and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius.

The "Chicken Dance" song is accompanied by a dance requiring a group of people, and is popular well into the 21st century, particularly at outdoor band concerts,

-Program Note from Wikipedia


State Ratings

None discovered thus far.


To submit a performance please join The Wind Repertory Project

  • Atascadero (Calif.) Community Band (Anthony Yi, conductor) - 1 March 2015

Works for Winds by This Composer


  • Rendall, T.; Thomas, W.; Vincent, G. (2004). The Chicken Dance: (AKA Dance Little Bird) [score]. Warner Bros.: [United States]
  • Chicken Dance, Wikipedia