Romanian chain dances

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Chain dance form

In chain dances the dancers are linked to their neighbours using their hands or  arms. The line and circle dances of Romania are descendents of ancient dances possibly associated with rituals.

Some dances are in a circle, either a complete circle or an open circle with dance leaders on the open ends. These formations are common in social occasions with larger numbers of participants and mostly use simple hand hold which is more flexible not requiring exact movement in unison from the dancers.

Shorter lines or smaller circles often use holds that maintain a rigid linkage along the line. Holding the shoulders of one's neighbours is common in Romanian men's dances, "back basket hold" where hands are joined behind the adjacent dancer, to the hand of the next dancer, is common in men's dances and mixed men's and women's dances.

As a general rule, the circle dances of western Europe move to the left and those of eastern Europe and the Balkans move to the right. In Romania most of the dances that move predominantly in one direction move to the right in common with the rest of east Europe, although some dances in the isolated area of Vrancea move to the left.

Romanian chain dance types

The "classic" Romanian ethnologist classification of chain dances is into basic types;

Chain dances
Roata femeilor
(girl's circle)
~ mare dreapă 
large straight
common ~ 
Banat ~
~ n-două parţi
fixed form ~ 
3 measure
Purtata fetelor
~ pe bătaie
with stamping

Selections of various dances which fulfil the basic classification requirement are put into each of these categories, but may actually be linked by choreological development with other dances placed in the other types.

It should be noted that the dance types are generally termed in Romanian by names with are also particular dance names.

Choreographic form, motifs, music

type names form structure motifs music
Hora Hora mare, Hora dreaptă, Hora de mână, Periniţa
stamping: Hangul, Floricica
mixed rhythm: Sălcioara, Hodoroaga, Şchioapa
ternary:  Jianul, Balta, Salta
hands joined at shoulder height 2 or 4 measure phrases, or
bi-directional figures, or
3 measure phrases non-concordant with music
walking, stamps, heel lifts, leaps 2/4 & other
Sârba Sârba shoulder hold 3 measure phrases non-concordant with music, or bi-directional figures   2/4 (in compound time ~6/8)
 Brâul Brâul, Corăgheşte, Brâuleţ, Galaonul, Poloxia, Alunelul, Danţ shoulder hold, cross hand holds walking (plimbăre) travelling to the right & figures, or bi-directional figures syncopation, stamping, heel clicks, crossing, toe & heel actions 2/4 (Banat can be 7/8)


BUCSAN, A. (1971) Specificul Dansului Popular Românesc, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România.

GIURCHESCU, A, Romanian Traditional Dance, Mill Valley CA: Wild Flower Press, 1995.


© Eliznik2005, Last updated Apr-08