Author Archives: Nick

Dance: Paidușca (Paydushka in the Romanian context)

Paidușca is the Romanian transliteration of the Bulgarian Paydushka for melodies that are in 5/16 meter (short-long rhythm). Popescu-Județ[1] gives a list of many locations where he documented Paidusca as a local dance, and there are also other locations given for notations of music.[2][3] However, there are few descriptions of the dances.

Paidușca denotes a Bulgarian origin, but this 20th century popularity does not cross the Danube from Dobrogea to the county of Brăila, suggesting that the dance is endemic to the population of northern Dobrogea and not a spread as a fashion in local dance into the wider Romanian population.

There are three groupings of Paidușca based on structure:

  1. Dances close to the popular Bulgarian dance, either Paydushko troika or Paidushko chetvorka.
  2. Dances of a different structure, similar to the older regional forms of Paydushka.
  3. The Romanian Sârba danced to Paidușca melodies.

When considering northern Dobrogea one has to consider the phases of re-population following the centuries of Turkish population and the subsequent depopulation during the Russian-Ottoman wars. Following the Russian acquisition, the region around Babadag was re-settled by Bulgarians between 1840 and 1865 who mainly came from Sliven, Yambol and other regions of Thrace.[4] These Bulgarians were then relocated in 1940 to southern Dobruzha due to the population exchanges.

I would surmise that there are several groupings of Paidușca by form that reflect the changes in population, however, some 70 years from Popescu-Județ’s field research there are few Paidușca in the popular social repertoire, except the Paidușca in 2/4.

1) Structurally similar to the popular Bulgarian Paydushka

1a) Type 2 Paydushka chetvorka variations

Paidusca (Ansamblul Iholu, Pindu, Hrista Lupci)

The version of Paydushka termed ‘type 2’ by Tsonev[5] or paydushka chetvorka by choreographers, was danced in many places in Bulgaria according to Tsonev who was collecting dances before the 1940s. It is characterised by the musically concordant 4-measure phrasing of the three parts of the dance (4+4+4) compared to the most common popular form of Paydushka which is a 10-measure (3+3+4) structure.

Jora Roman[6] describes this pattern in 1973 in the village of Ceamurlia de Sus, which has an immigrant Aromân population from Macedonia, as the first part of the dance “La patrdzati de dumaniti”, the second part being the normal Balkan 3-measure dance to 2/4 meter.

There are also two versions that are quite close to Paydushko chetvorka in the Romanian repertoire: Paidușca from Plopul[1] and Paidușca from Nufăru[7]. Romanian dances are generally concordant to the music, also the two ‘single-crossings’ are typical motifs in the general Romanian dance repertoire, so it is not clear if there is a relationship to Tsonev’s ‘type 2’ Paydushko or just a local interpretation of the Bulgarian dance.

1b) Similar to Bulgarian form

Popescu-Județ lists another 25 locations where Paidușca was danced in its popular form,[1] one of these is Plopul, so it might be assumed this is a similar form to the popular Bulgarian dances.

Interestingly Roman[6] records the dance “Dusi coli, dusi oaspi” in Stejaru with the beat reversed so the hop-step becomes step-hop, similar to some versions from the south Shopluk-Macedonia area.

1c) Șabla

Popescu-Județ lists this dance in five locations along the Danube near Tulcea.[1] The name Șabla is the same as the village called Shabla in Bulgarian Dobrudzha. There are no notations of this dance or indications of immigration from the Bulgarian regions.

1c) Paidușca in 2/4

In Coslugea (Tulcea county) they dance the popular variation of the 10-measure Bulgarian type 1 Paydushka (Tsonev’s Paydushkata), but to a Romanian melody in 2/4 meter. This version remains popular with dancers around Tulcea.

2) Paidușca in other structural forms

Popescu-Județ lists the dance in the village of Vișina as Paidușca Schimbată that was danced in line form, and also in Jurilofca and Sălcioara Paidușca was danced in a mixed line with arms held crossed behind the back.[1]

Tentatively these references could be linked to dances notated by Jora Roman. He notated a version from Turcoaia[7] in the same hold with arms held crossed behind the back. The structure of this dance is similar to three other versions that are notated as danced in low hand hold: in Cerna village[6], in Enisala village[7], and in Sarighiol de Deal village.[6] Also in Cerna village there is a version in bidirectional form danced to the song “Za iel, za iel, tu mito mori”.

Paidușca (Drăgăicuța) 2012

These locations appear to fall in the region re-populated after 1840 by Bulgarians following the Russian-Ottoman wars, who then relocated to southern Dobruzha in the 1940 population exchanges. This leads to an interesting possibility that these versions could be older versions before the popularity of the standard 10-measure and 12-measure Paydushka in Bulgaria.

Paidușca de la Stejaru introduced by Theodor Vasilescu is the same form that Jora Roman notated in Enisala.

2a) Aroman and Meglenoroman villages

The version from Stejaru village (formerly Eschibaba) is a 9-measure phrase, like a Paydushko troika, but has step-hop with the hop on the long beat, the reverse of the typical hop-step, something also encountered in the Macedonia-Shopluk (Bulgaria) region. Stejaru was formally a village of Turks and Bulgarians, with few Romanians, however after the Turks departed in 1878 there were colonisations in 1904, 1905, 1908 and 1930 coming from the regions of Moldavia (Tecuci, Tutova, Covurlui), Transylvania (Brașov) and Muntenia (Râmnicu-Sărat).[6] In 1940 the Bulgarians left moving to southern Dobrogea and were replaced by Aromanians, some who had previously re-located to southern Dobrogea from Macedonia, as well as others from Manasia and Rădulești (Ialomița county).

Paidușca, Sarighiol de Deal – 2012

The version from Cerna village is an 8+8 measure bidirectional dance. Cerna was previously a Bulgarian village, but with the population exchanges of 1940 families of Megleno-Romanians arrived in northern Dobrogea from southern Dobrogea and later settled in Cerna. In 1947 about 30 families of Megleno-Romanians moved to Banat (localities of Variaș and Biled) because of the drought and war, but in 1951 they were deported to the Bărăgan plain by the Romanian state, some remained there after 1955, others returned to Cerna.[6]

In Ceamurlia de Jos Popescu-Județ noted that there was a men’s dance in an open circle with  hands held on the belts of their neighbours.[1] This was a Bulgarian village prior to the 1940 population exchange when the population was replaced by Aromâns from Gramos (Gramoștani), the mountain area between modern Greece and Albania.

3) Similar to Sârba but to Bulgarian 5/16 melodies

Popescu-Județ lists 9 locations where he says Paidușca is like a Sârba in two parts.[1] His notation for the dance in Mărașu consists of travelling around the circle to the left and right in the same manner as a fixed form Sârba, then this is followed by continuous hop-steps in place. Paidușca is also danced in Vulturu village in the form of a couple turning dance.

Dances in this form (typical Sârba to the local Dobrogean music) appear to be in the upland areas that were repopulated by Moldavians after the Tatars departed.

Published on 10th December 2023

Dance: Paydushka (Пайдушка)

The name Paydushka (Пайдушка) is both a generic term which is applied to various different dance types in the “short-long” rhythm (generally notated in 5/8 meter) and a name given to a popular dance in this rhythm which is widespread in Bulgarian and adjacent countries. In Romanian Dobrogea it is transliterated to Paidușca. It is thought that the name Paydushko comes from Turkish “paytak” meaning knock-knees or to waddle, however, there are other theories.

Tsonev’s[1] list of collected dances has very many labelled as Paydushka, generally meaning they are in the “short-long” rhythm, so including dances that are from other chorological families of dances.

Bulgarians generally attribute the origin of Paydushka to northern Bulgaria due to the large number of similar dances to this rhythm in the northern regions, however the popular ‘type 1’ Payduska attribution appears to be Thracian centric.


Paydushka in this classic forms comprises three sections:

  1. Limping steps to the left, count 1) step right across in front and count 2) step back on left.
  2. An interface motif danced in place of 3 or 4 measures, formed from a combination of 1) hop and steps and 2) step across in front and back,
  3. Hop and step to the right, generally four times, however when only three there is an additional interface of two measures.
Limping steps to left Interface motif in place Hop-steps to right
10 measures – Type 1 Paydushka troika
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
across L across L across L hop-step hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step hop-step
10 measures – Type 1 Paydushka variation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
across L across L hop-step hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step across R hop-step
11 measures – Type 1 Paydushka variation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
across L across L across L hop-step hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step across R hop-step
Limping steps to left Interface motif in place Hop-steps to right
12 measures – Type 2 Paydushko chetvorka
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
across L across L across L across L hop-step across R hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step hop-step
12 measures – Type 2 Paydushko variation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
across L across L across L hop-step across R hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step across R hop-step
13 measures – Type 2 Paydushko variation
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
across L across L across L across L hop-step across R hop-step across L hop-step hop-step hop-step across R hop-step

The 10 measure Paydushka


This version of Paydushka was noted by Katsarova[2] in Vratsa before 1912, and it seems likely this version, also known as Paydushka troika or as ‘type 1’ by Tsonev, was widely popular by the 1920s, and may well have been further popularised by its inclusion in dance training text books (for example Vaglarov[3]). This history fits in well with the introduction into the US folk dance community by Dick Crum in 1956[4] and Gordon Engler in 1958[5] from the Bulgarian communities in the USA in the mid-20th century and the popularity in countries adjacent to Bulgaria.

It appears that Paydushka was predominantly danced to popular songs of the time – Отъ долу иде лудата Яна, the art-song Ах забрадила червенъ чумбер, Ахъ да бихъ знала, че тъй ще да стане въ двана[6], the folk song Да знае мома да знае, да знае да се не жени[1], and the popular song Тук Там, Тук Там кисело млеко[7]. Dzhudzhev notes the song phrasing as being 16 or 12 measures opposed to the 10 measure phrases of the dance[6].

The 12-measure Paydushko chetvorka


The version termed ‘type 2’ by Tsonev[1], or Paydushka chetvorka by the choreographers, according to Tsonev was danced in many places in Bulgaria to the song Ах да би знала[1], however there are only two notations, by Drumev[8] and Vaglarov[3].

Interestingly Jora[9] describes this dance in 1976 in the village of Ceamurlia de Sus (north Dobrogea) which has an immigrant population from Macedonia. There are also two versions that are quite close to Paydushko chetvorka in the Romanian repertoire: Paidușca from Plopul[10] and Paidușca from Nufăru[11]. Typically Romanian dances are concordant to the music plus the two ‘single-crossings’ are also typical motifs in the general Romanian dance repertoire, so it is not clear if there is a relationship to Tsonev’s ‘type 2’ Paydushko or just a local interpretation of the Bulgarian dance.

The three times hop-step Paydushko

5 1 song-dance paydushka, Ruse region – 1995

This particular variant appears to be prominent in the Ruse–Razgrad–Veliko Tarnovo region of northern Bulgaria, but is also prominent in the dance repertoire as Μπαϊντούσκα (a direct transliteration) for Greek people who relocated from “Thrace” and “north Thrace” (Bulgaria) due to the post WW1 population exchanges, thus indicating this form of Paydushka was popular pre-1920.

An interesting subject for research is the cross-over between other dance families in straight rhythm (2/4) that have a very similar structure to this form of Paydushka which are known as Triti pati in eastern Bulgaria and Hora n’doua parți in Romanian Muntenia.

Published on 10th December 2023

Pe picior and similar Banat dances

On this page I have included mostly the dances in Marcu’s category of “swaying” dances (Leuca, Pe picior and Lența (variant 3)) which he linked by observation of a characteristic body swaying movement when changing body weight from one foot to the other.[1]

Grupa D. Jocuri cu legănări de corp şi schimbarea greutăţii corpului de pe un picior pe altul.

Ionel Marcu[1]

In addition to Marcu’s movement observations, these and other couple dances from the Banat plain also have a step pattern structure of “1101” in Leibman notation[2] – “slow-slow-quick-quick-slow”. This this step pattern is the same as the Banat Hora and the mountain De doi through the common use of “1101” step pattern, however these dances appear to be specifically Banat plain dances.

My grouping of Marcu’s “swaying dances” and “1101” step pattern couple dances includes: Legănata, Lența, Leuca, Pe picior, Cărăbășeasca, Iedera, and Pogacea.

There are two musical notations of Leuca by Bartók,[3] Cârnaleuca and Babaleuca. Cârnaleuca from Jadani (Timiș) is a similar melody to Leuca (Satchinez). Leuca is often the name for a men’s chain dance such as Druga Leuca[1] so we cannot know if Babaleuca (Seleuș) is a column dance.

Cărăbășeasca is named after the local name for a bagpipe and is played on a violin in a way that imitates the sound made by this bagpipe. Recordings include Cărăbășeasca Efta Botoca (EPD 1288/2), Joc ca din cimpoi Nelu Stan – Vioară (ST-EPE 01336/3). Cărăbă Ensemble folklorique Banatul (ST-EPE 01263/1).

Click for more details …
dance title “1101” form other figures
Pe picior (Satchinez)[1] Bilateral in column formation
Pe-un picior  (Șeitin, Arad)[4] Bilateral in column formation Bilateral promenading column formation. Turning as a couple.
P-on picior (Cuvin, Arad)[5] Bilateral in column formation
Legănata de la Cornești[1] Bilateral in column formation Walking turn with partner
Lența leganata (Comoșul Mare)[1] Bilateral in column formation
Leuca (Satchinez)[1] Bilateral in column formation 3+3+7 (similar pattern to the Măzărica, Toldăul, Poșovoaica type)
Cărăbășeasca (Izvin)[1] Bilateral in column formation with sways Turning as a couple then four leap-point steps in place.
Iedera (Banloc)[1] Bilateral in column formation with sways

Pe picior, Pre picior or Pe picioare

Efta Botoca – vioară – Pe picior din Unip

The earliest documentation I can find is from an event in 1894 in Arad where Pre picior follows Hora and Ardeleana[6]. Bartók[1] noted this dance for couples in 1912– 1913, not in a group formation, using the hold with man’s hands on woman’s hips, women’s hands on partner’s shoulders whereas Marcu in the 1960s describes Pe picior (Satchinez) as couples in column formation.[1] This discrepancy in formation, where Bartók documents a formation with scattered couples and Marcu notates a formation with couples in a column is the same as for the dances Pre loc and Întoarsa.

The step patterns described by Marcu (Pe picior (Satchinez)[1] and Nistor (Pe-un picior (Șeitin, Arad)[4] and P-on picior (Cuvin, Arad)[5] have a “weight change” step pattern (1101 in Leibman notation). The form of the dance in Șeitin (Arad) described by Nistor is very similar to the De doi of the Banat hills and mountain regions.


Petrică Pașca – Pe picior din Podgorie

South of the Mureș valley region the notations are in binary 2/4 meter; in the Banat plain[1], in the Făget region[7] and Valea Carașului region.[8] There are recordings on the state record label (Electrecord) by local musicians Efta Botoca (ST-EPE 03783) and Ion Peptenar (ST-EPE 03653).

Bartók[1] notated the melodies in asymmetric rhythm in the locations of Mănăștur (Arad) (7/8 as 3+2+2) and Pârnești (Arad) in various different asymmetric combinations (2+2+3+3 or 4+3+3 or 2+2+3+2 or 4+3+2). This use of asymmetric rhythm is consistent with the 7/8 rhythm music notations[4] [5] [9] and recordings (Arad orchestra, Rapsozii Zarandului (ST-EPE 03781)) in the Mureș valley region of Arad. Rather confusingly Institutul de Folclor[10] has the version from Covăsinț (1930) notated in 2/4.


Bartók (Bartók, 1967:36) recorded melodies with a tempo range of 136–160 beats per minute in seven locations in Banat, in the northern Timiș and Arad region regions. The location distribution of the published and recorded examples is along the Mureș valley, in the Făget region and some scattered villages in the northern part of Timiș county.

Click for more details …
Notation / recording Locations – binary rhythm Locations – asymmetric rhythm
Bela Bartók[3] Ghilad, Cernadul Mare, Săvârșin,  Mănăștur, Tolvadia (Livezile) Mănăștur, Pârnești
Tiberiu Brediceanu[11] Bata, Belotinț, Birchiș, Chelmac, Jupani, Lipova
Ionel Marcu[1] Satchinez
Sava Ilici[7] Făget
Achim Penda[8] Românești, Dubești, Pădurani, Ciclova, Naidăș Sâmbăteni
Ioan Florea[9] Semlac Sâmbăteni, Pârnești,  Covăsinț, Felnac, Roşia Nouă, Cuvin
Viorel Nistor[4] Șeitin, Cuvin
Ion Peptenar (ST-EPE 03653) Bazosul Vechi
Rapsozii Zarandului (ST-EPE 03781) Semlac, Mândruloc
Efta Botica (ST-EPE 03783) Unip

Published on 1st May 2023

Banat couple dances – Pre loc, Întoarsa

The social dances in the villages of the Banat plain were, in past times, mostly couple dances. These couple dances fall into several types including Banat column couple dances, Soroc and other syncopated stepped dances, and the generic Ardeleana.

The article is about the dances Pre loc (Pe loc, Pră loc or Zopot) and Întoarsa. I describe these as “walking dances” as the dominant step is just walking while performing many different figures as a couple. There may be additional motifs such as step and close or faster triple steps, however walking predominates. This is different to the other couple dances which have a structure based on a step pattern that is more than only walking.

The Bartók music collections dating between 1912 and 1913 included some dance music, very few dance figures were published by Marcu in the 1960s, however many figures for these dances are still taught in dance classes as the dances before and after Soroc in the typical dance cycle.

Ansamblul Profesionist Banatul – suită de dansuri

The video of Banatul ensemble from Timișoara shows a choreography of the dances: Cărăbășeasca, Zopot and Pe loc, Sorocul couple dance and men’s figures, Întoarsa from the localities of Jebel, Utvin and Satchinez.

Giurchescu[1] groups the couple dances into types: slow Ardeleana, fast Ardeleana and syncopated Ardeleana, this categorising appears to be based on the context in the dance cycle rather than the choreology. Hence, both Pre loc and Întoarsa are placed into the “fast Ardeleana”[1] which is termed “De doi in Banat”, however there is no connection choreologically to the De doi from the mountain zone or De doi from the Timișoara area.

in 1912–1913 Bartók[2] records both Pre loc and Întoarsa (De (i)ntorsu) as a couple dances for individual couples scattered in the dance space, with the man holding his partner at the waist and the women’s hands on her partner’s shoulders. This suggests this dance was not originally a “column” dance of the Ardeleana category, although Marcu noted it as a column dance some 50 years later, and this is counter to the prevailing idea that the formation gradually changed to the scattered formation under the influence of the Transylvanian Învârtita.[1]

Pe loc, Pre loc, Pră loc or Zopot

Flore Baniciu Zopot #Saxofon #Folclor @TVRTimisoara

This dance must have been established in the local repertoire well before 1894 when Tiberiu Brediceanu from Lugoj (1877–1968) included Pe loc in his musical compositions of Romanian dances.[3]

Pre loc means on the spot.[1] Although many figures are in place, there are also figures promenading with partner. Recordings are very often under the title Zopot or both Zopot and Pre loc. Suvergel[4] notes that in some locations with a predominantly Roma population Pră loc may be called Zopotul (see Zopot din Jebel – Ion Peptenar ST-EPE 03653), but the music and dance are the same as Pre loc. The meaning of Zopot is regional. Suvergel says the Roma dance has small steps close to the ground, without pirouettes or turning the partner, with couples in close formation. This type of dance is known as Sita (presumably from “small” in Slavic) by those who dance it.[4]


Bartók[2] describes Pre loc in 1912–1913 as a couple dance, not in a group formation but as individual couples, with the man holding his partner at the waist and the women’s hands on her partner’s shoulders.

This dance is not described in Marcu’s 1960s books, however it is still taught in dance classes and included in choreographies of the typical dance cycle. The figures as taught by choreographers Marius Ursu (ensemble Doina Timișului), Nicolae Stănescu (ensemble Banatul) and a notated choreography by Deian Clanița[5] show us that the majority of figures are simple walking, with only a few taking a structured form similar to dances in Marcu’s “swaying dances” category.


The geographic distribution of this dance appears to include most of the Romanian populated areas of the Banat plain and Caraș valley region.

Bartók made recordings in 13 locations between 1912 and 1913. The tempo range was between 126–160 beats per minute. Tiberiu Brediceanu[6] documented Pe loc melodies mainly in the Caraș valley (Oravița area) between 1921 and 1923. Nicolae Lighezan[7] published Pe loc melodies from the Caraș valley in the 1950s. There are also music notations from this period (1960s-1980s).[8][9][10]

Pră loc is also a men’s dance in Caraș valley[11], interestingly progressing to the left, but also has a step pattern closely related to the couple dance step pattern. It is difficult to be certain if the associated dance in the Caraș valley zone is the couple dance or the men’s dance.

Click for more details …

There are recordings on the state record label (Electrecord) by local musicians; Efta Botoca (EPD 1288, ST-EPE 04199), Ilie and Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685, ST-EPE 03223), Ion Peptenar (ST-EPE 03653) and Arad Philharmonic Orchestra (ST-EPE 03090).

Notations Locations
Bela Bartók Jolvadia, Petrivasile (Vladimirovac), Secani, Jebel, Alibunar, Mureni, Banloc, Igriș, Seleuș, Cenadul Mare, Jadani, Ghilad, Vălcani
Tiberiu Brediceanu Bocsa Montană, Sasca Română, Oravița
Nicolae Lighezan Biniș, Ciclova Valea, Valea Carașului
Achim Penda Naidăș, Comorâști, Ciclova
Recordings Locations
Ilie și Radu Vincu Sânnicolaul Mare, Comloșul Mare, Satchinez, Jebel
Ion Peptenar Giroc
Arad Philharmonic Orchestra Seiga


Ilie şi Radu Vincu – Întoarsa

Most often this dance is final dance of the dance cycle, and faster than the other dances (Bartók gives the tempo range as 152–195 beats per minute compared to a maximum of 160 for Pe loc). The name Întoarsa means “the turned one”[1] and in many ways is the equivalent of the turning dance of Învârtita of Transylvania or Mănunțel from north of the Mureș river,[11] however the figures are largely similar to the walking of the Pre loc with less of the structured turning and pirouettes of the Învârtita.


Bartók[2] lists Întoarsa (De (i)ntorsu) as a couple dance in individual couples, with the man holding his partner at the waist and the women’s hands on her partner’s shoulders. Marcu calls the hold “ca la dansurile modern”, but he does not explain this hold. From our knowledge it is “ballroom hold” in English usage. In the same way as Pre loc and Pe picior Bartók describes the couples dancing not in a formation, whereas Marcu notates this as a column dance. Marcu[12] describes the dance as having figure A – slow side-steps turning a half turn with partner, and figure B – walking while turning partner.


The geographic distribution of this dance appears to be limited to northern Banat between Timișoara and the Mureș river. Suvergel discusses the melodies in four locations.[4] Marius Ursu’s teaching repertoire includes Întoarsa de la Alios and Întoarsa de la Checea.

Click for more details …
Notations Locations
Bela Bartók[1] Murani, Seceani, Mănăștur, Cornești
Tiberiu Brediceanu[6] Bata, Vinga, Lipova, Cuveșdia, Comloșu Mare
Ionel Marcu[2] Hodoni, Sânmihaiu Român, Timișoara, Utvin
Sava Ilici[15] Șeitin
Viorel Nistor[1] Cuvin
Marian Suvergel[4] Pișhchia, Satchinez, Beregsău
Recordings Locations
Ilie și Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685) Sânnicolau Mare, Comloșu Mare
Rapsozii Zarandului (ST-EPE 03090, ST-EPE 03781) Semlac, Firiteaz

Published on 25th April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Soroc – men’s dance, couple dance and dance cycle

The subtype Sorocul (north of Timiş and south of Arad) is performed both as a highly virtuosic men’s solo or group dance, and as part of a mixed couple walking and turning dance named either Sorocul or Ardeleana.

Giurchescu and Bloland [1]

The term Soroc is used in northern Banat for various dances with “syncopated” steps, but also for a cycle of dances. The dance(s) now commonly referred to as Soroc in the Banat area appear to include several layers of earlier dances including men’s dances and couple dances that now are merged as figures and themes under a generic title of Soroc:

This dance [Budaica] is part of the cycle of frequent dances in the lowland region of Banat called “Soroc”.

Marcu [2]
  1. Soroc men’s dance specific to the Timiș–Arad zone
  2. Soroc couple dance, in which the men might also dance figures from the men’s dance
  3. De mâna and Budaica couple dances from the Timiș–Arad repertoire that are choreologically similar and can be part of the Soroc cycle of dances.
  4. A widely distributed couple dance with a turning figure which in rhythm and form is very similar to the southern Transylvanian Învârtita and is known in Banat as either Ardeleana (not related to the so called “Ardeleana” category) or Soroc.

The concept of “syncopated” steps (2+1+2+1+2) is key to the men’s dances and couple dances in the arc of the regions Maramureș–Oaș–Bihor–Arad–Timiș. In Maramureș–Oaș–Bihor the syncopated dance has music in straight 2/4, but is danced in rhythm 2+1+2+1+2 across two measures. Marcu[2] notates the dance with syncopation in 2/4 meter and musically Soroc is notated in 2/4 meter – Bartók at Jadani (Cornești) [4], by Florea in Arad county (Covăsinț, Sâmbăteni, Drauț, Cuvin, Cicir, Felnac, Zăbrani)[5] and by Vancu in Sâmbăteni[6] although published recordings often have a slight asymmetry that lengthens towards the end of the measure. In the old forms the rhythmic accent is on count 5 of a two measure unit, which is one of the rhythmic options given by Giurchescu.[1]


This accent on the 5th count is very evident in the men’s dance steps and in some recordings (see for example recordings by Ilie şi Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 03223, ST-EPE 01685).

The învîrtita in syncopated rhythm is specific to southern Transylvania; its range extends across the middle part of the Mureş Valley into the Transylvanian Plain in the southern part of Cluj.

Giurchescu and Bloland [1]

However, in the south of Arad and north of Timiș counties the music sometimes takes on a asymmetric count with the first beat shortest and the last beat longest (generally notated as 10/16 2+2+3+3). This concept of “syncopated” steps, but to asymmetric meter, is also exists in the Transylvanian Învârtita (turning dance).

Munteanu[7] suggests the asymmetry arrived with a Transylvanian population familiar with this rhythm, particularly in the localities close to urban industrial areas (Firiteaz, Seceani, Alioș, Mașloc, Sânmihai, Utvin etc.).

Sorocul, when performed only by men, is considered to be one of the most difficult dances of Banat because of the combination of a large range of heel clicks, jumps, fast scissors, leg rotations, and balances performed to complicated, syncopated, rhythmic patterns.

Giurchescu and Bloland [1]

1. Sorocul as a men’s dance

Soroc as a men’s dance is related to the Fecioresc[8], Nistor comments that the men’s “Sorocul is a dance of virtuosity, with almost acrobatic movements, jumps, flexions, stamps on the ground, and jumps on the heel”.[9]

Clanița[10] gives notations of figures collected in 1983 from dancers born at the turn of the 20th century from villages of Murani, Fibiș, Alioș, Fiscuțt-Firiteaz, Seceani. He says the dance comprises a walking figure plimbare and the showing off figure called forme and can be performed both as a solo men’s dance or with a partner who holds the man’s right hand and dances behind him.

Men’s Soroc performance

Although it was most likely originally a men’s group dance, as is often performed in choreographies, the dance appears to have become reduced to a men’s solo figures, with only the Bulgarian group at Vinga continuing a tradition of Sorocul as men’s group dance.

2. Soroc as a couple dance

The ‘Ardeleana’ in syncopated rhythm family is represented in Bihor and Arad by the Pe picor type. Sorocul is peculiar to the Banat plain and the southern part of Arad.

Giurchescu and Bloland [1]

There are various formation options for the couple dance Soroc. Bartók notes just one melody in Jadani (Cornești) and describes the dance Soroc as couples holding inside hands in a column formation facing up the column with women sometimes making turns.[4] Marcu’s description starts in column formation with partners facing and it is danced in counter-time (stepping behind the beat) in syncopated rhythm, with music that is not quite straight, and for the men there are movements requiring great skill.[2] Soroc in this form is a dance specific to the Banat plain, particularly the communities of Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloș[2] and in Arad in the localities Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni.[9]

The merging of the men’s figures and the couple dance are noted by Giurchescu who says that in “Ardeleana” type dances “it [was] currently the practice for the man to separate from the woman and dance his part alone”.[1] Clanita[10] gives the alternative formation as holding the hand of the partner who dances behind the man, and Nistor refers to Soroc (the men’s dance) that is later additionally a couple dance.[9]

Click for more details …
Notations Locations
Bela Bartók[4] Cornești
Tiberiu Brediceanu[11] Comloșu
Ionel Marcu[2] Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloșu
Ionel Florea[5] Covăsinț, Sâmbăteni, Drauț, Cuvin, Cicir, Felnac, Zăbrani
Viorel Nistor[9] Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni
Marian Suvergel[14] Beregsău, Comloșu, Dudeștii Vechi
Recordings Locations
Ilie și Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685, ST-EPE 03223) Satchinez, Felnac
Banatul (ST-EPE 01263) Satchinez, Comloșu Mic

3. De mâna and Budaica

“De mâna ca la Buzad” Datina ensemble, Ghiroda – 2016

These two dances appear to be closely linked with Soroc. All notations and recordings are in binary 2/4, but danced syncopated. Marcu[2] describes Budaica as part of the cycle of dances known as Soroc.

Marcu[3] notates De mâna ca la Sânnicolaul Mare as in couples moving and facing up the column, holding inside hands low, then a second figure turning as a couple in shoulder hold. De mâna de la Buzad (Datina ensemble, Ghiroda) is similar to Marcu’s description of De mâna, but is also very similar in the couple dance figures to Marcu’s Soroc description. Nistor also gives an example of a figure from Soroc[21] with a similar structure to the Arad plain dances De mână, Lunga and Ardeleana bătrânească.

This dance [Budaica] is part of the cycle of frequent dances in the lowland region of Banat called “Soroc”. As held and execution, it resembles the “walk” (plimbare) from Soroc or Transylvanian “De-a lungul”. The distribution of this dance is centred on Sânnicolau and Satchinez. It is an archaic dance preserved until today. Young dancers have simplified considerably. In the old form, when danced by the elderlyit retains the specifics of execution in syncopation and counter-time, as can be seen at the festive events in which they participate.

Marcu et al. [2]

There are no notations in Bartók’s collection (1912–1913). Melodies for both De Mână and Budaica from Sânnicolau Mare are notated by Tiberiu Brediceanu (1921–1923)[11] and Sava Ilici [12], and from Nerău by Tiberiu Brediceanu[11]. De mână is also notated from Ovcea in Serbia [1] but this village near Belgrade was only repopulated with Romanian shepherds after 1815. Recordings of De mână melodies from Sânnicolau Mare are played Banatul ensemble (ST-EPE 01263) , and from Variaș by Ilie and Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685) .

3. Sorocul or Ardeleana

… turning dance named either Sorocul or Ardeleana.

Giurchescu and Bloland [1]

The most common couple dance seen in staged choreography, and occasionally danced by the older generation at events, appears to be very similar to the southern Transylvanian Învârtita – with syncopated resting steps followed by turning as a couple, and music that is clearly in asymmetric rhythm.

Soroc – couple dance from the Banat plain

Past recordings (1970s–1980s) appear to vary from nearly straight 2/4 to slightly asymmetric with stretching of the beat towards the end of the measure. However, in the current popular music, when performed for events and performances by local singers, the melody is clearly asymmetric (see the transcriptions by Suvergel [14]) approaching a 10/16 (2+2+3+3) and the accent on count 5 is hardly evident. This aligns well with the view that the turning couple dance now danced as “Soroc” is strongly influenced by the southern Transylvanian Învârtita and was probably a popular dance in the Banat plain region from the mid-20th century.

Ardeleana pe trei pași or Pă trii pași replaces Soroc in some locations (Jebel, Pădureni, Sânmihai and Utvin) so the cycle of dances is Hora mare, Ardeleana pe trei pași and Pre loc[14]. This music is played in the asymmetric meter (10/16) in the same way Soroc is played, but the dance is based on three equal steps as opposed to the syncopated steps of Soroc. This is possibly a borrowing of Ardeleana pe trei pași from Bihor and Arad[14], but in Timiș county around Timișoara it takes the place of Soroc, with steps that look to be a local adaption from the normal binary rhythm Ardeleana.

Published on 18th April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Column dances of Mureș valley and north Banat

Timiș region dances

See our web page on Banat column dances. for a discussion on dance form in relation to the other Banat couple dances.

Marcu[1] discusses the dancing at Sunday dances on the Banat plain in past times when three to five dances were played cyclically, one after the other as a suite, for example: Sorocul – followed by a selection from the following: Duba, Bradu, Desca, Lența, Judecata – ending with Hora.

Giurchescu[2] lists under her “Type 1 slow Ardeleana” a list of Banat Ardelene plus dances Lența, Șireghea, Duba, Bradul, Desca, Măzărichea.

Marcu [1] puts the couple dances of Banat into groups linked by inclusion of a “typical” motif common to those dances in the group. The relevant groups are:

  • “Group A” is based on the motif of 7 side steps performed bilaterally in which he includes Sireghea, Judecata (or Iepura), De doi, Cana (or Oala), and Cârligul.
  • “Group B” dances “Măzărica type” includes MăzăricaToldăuland Poșovoaica.
  • “Group C” is based on the characteristic motif of a jump in the dance Duba, and Marcu lists the variants as Lenţa, Bradu, Turca-furca, Cucuruzul and Șchioapa.

Mureș valley, north of Timișoara

In the north area the column dances Bradu and Diesca were recorded by Bartók (1910s) and Marcu (1950s). In the case of Desca the melody has not changed during this period. Whereas Duba and Lența are not in the collections of Bartók or Brediceanu, suggesting a mid-20th century popularity, becoming popular after Bartók’s time.

There is a clear dividing line between those north of Timișoara (approximately the line of Sânnicoau Mare– Arad–Lipova) and around Timișoara, towards Lugoj, and south to the Banat hills and mountains. A similar division is seen with the older layer of dances, Soroc, Întoarsa and Pe picior, although these appear to have also migrated south to around Timișoara.

This dividing line appears to be consistent for most of the dance repertoire apart from the old Banat couple dance, Pe loc, which is recorded over the whole Banat area.

Note: The video clips below are of the Datina group in Ghiroda under the leadership of Emilian Dumitru.

Duba – 6 measures phrases

Ansamblul DATINA : Jocuri traditionale din Campia Banateana (de Emilian Dumitru)

The common theme is a bidirectional dance in 6 measures phrases, very unusual in Romanian dances. Duba means drum[2] in local Romanian.

Marcu [1] describes seven versions of Duba with name of the dance reflecting the form of the key feature of the dance: Duba sărită with jumps, Duba plimbata with walking, Duba bătută has 7 stamping steps, Duba pe tre pași has 3 steps, Duba încrucușată has steps that cross in front and cross behind. Duba de la Racovita is performed by the Datina group as couples in small circle. Duba from Șeitin[6] is in 3 measure phrases but comprises of different motifs.

According to Marcu [1], Duba with its variations – Lența, Bradu, Turca-furca, and Șchioapa, has a characteristic motif of jumps on two feet together, however it is very clear that Duba is a separate dance and the others are not “variations” of Duba.

Click for more details …
title reference measure 1 measure 2 measure 3
Duba sărită Marcu [1] 2 steps 2 steps jumps
Duba sărită Marcu [1] hop-step-steps hop-step-steps jumps
Duba plimbata Marcu [1] 2 steps 2 steps 3 steps
Duba bătută Marcu [1] 7 steps step-close
Duba pe tre pași Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps jumps
Duba încrucușată Marcu [1] 2 steps 2 steps step-close
Duba Nistor [7] 3 steps 3 steps jumps
Duba de la Racovita Datina group 3 steps 3 steps jumps
Notations Locations
Ionel Marcu [1] Duba sărită – Sânncolaul Mare, Pesac, Satchinez
Duba plimbata – Satchinez
Duba bătută – Pesac
Duba pe tre pași – Sânnicolau Mare
Duba încrucușată – Comoșul Mare
Corneliu Georgescu [8] Duba – Sâmbăteni
Viorel Nistor [8][7] Duba – Cuvin, Șeitin
Trandafir Jurjovan [5] Duba – Ovcea
Recordings Locations
Jocuri populare din Banat ST-EPE 03090 Duba – Firiteaz

Lența – phrases ending with jumps

“Lenta de la Satchinez” Datina ensemble, Ghiroda – 2016

Lența is the diminutive of Elena.[2] In the 1960s Marcu said the dance Lența had not been included in the Sunday dance repertoire for almost 30 years [6], this suggests a demise in popularity in the 1930s following an earlier period of popularity. However Bartók’s did not record Lența in his collections from the 1910s.

Marcu says that in the past Lența was widespread in the communities in the Sânnicolau to Secusigiu area of northern Banat. The three examples of Lența (from Satchinez) that Marcu [1] describes are bidirectional dances with jumps after the travelling steps. Nistor describes Lența from Șeitin [6] and from Pecica [7] but these are from the different “1101” (Leibman notation) choreographic family.

Nistor [7] describes two other similar dances Ciocănița and Căteaua from Birchiș (Arad county) that are based on the combination of motifs with 3 steps and jumps. A similar pattern is also described as Tocănița from Naidăș in the lower Caraș valley by Lațcu.[3]

Click for more details …
title reference measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4
Lența Marcu [1] 2 steps jumps jumps jumps
Lența Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps 2 steps jumps
Lența Marcu [4] 3 steps jumps 3 steps jumps
Lența de la Satchinzez Datina group jumps jumps 2 steps step-close
Căteaua Nistor [7] 3 steps jumps 3 steps jumps
Ciocănița Nistor [7] 3 steps jumps 3 steps jumps
Tocănița de a Naidăș Lațcu [3] 3 steps jumps 3 steps jumps

Desca, Diesca – music in 3/4

“Desca” Datina ensemble, Ghiroda – 2016

Desca musically has a rhythm of 6/8 (2+2+2) but in dance rhythm is mostly interpreted as 5 counts (1+1+1+1+2). Both Marcu [1] and Bartók [2] describe the formation as a column of couples facing, holding partner’s hands, and moving to right and left. As Bartók recorded four versions of the same melody in the 1910s this suggests that Desca (and also Bradu) might have been popular earlier than the other dances discussed here.

Marcu describes a generic version, Șesul bănătean and one from the village of Satchinez [1] and Bartók recorded melodies at Igriș, Seceani, Vălcani and Foeni [10]. Nistor [7] records a simple one figure version at Cuvin (Arad county). The Datina group perform Desca as a line of women in front of the men.

Click for more details …
Notations Locations
Bela Bartók [10] Igriș, Seceani, Vălcani, Foeni
Ionel Marcu [1] Satchinez
Ioan Florea [11] Cuvin, Sâmbăteni
Viorel Nistor [7] Cuvin
Recordings Locations
Jocuri populare din Banat ST-EPE 03090 Firiteaz

Informant Traian Cuvinan, 38 years old, violinist from Cuvin […]. The informant learned the song in 1928-30 from the 64-year-old violinist Nicolae Sandor. It is sung at parties, hora, weddings, at the request of dancers. It is performed in the beginning at normal tempo (132 beats per minute) after which it accelerates until the tempo no longer allows dancing and the dancers stop tired with joy.

October 29, 1953, Ioan Florea:note440 [9]


“Bradul de la Satchinez” Datina ensemble, Ghiroda – 2016

Bartók recorded melodies at Mănăștur and Jadani (Cornești) in the 1910s suggesting that Bradu (as well as Desca) might have been popular earlier that Duba and Lența. Unlike Desca which has a particular melody, Bradu is notated with different melodies. Bradu means the fir tree.

Bartók noted the formation as the same as Diesca, in that couples stand in a column, holding their partners hands, and take steps to right and left, but he says in this case they take three steps in each direction [10].

Generally figure A is bilateral 7 side-steps (the same as Judecata, De doi, Cȃrligu) and figure B is turning as a couple with hop-step-steps ending in jumps, although Marcu’s notation [1] of Bradu has both figure A and figure B with the step pattern of ‘hop-step-steps ending in jumps’.

Click for more details …
title reference figure A figure B
Bradu Marcu [1] hop-step-steps x3 jumps hop-step-steps x3 jumps
Bradu de la Satchinez Datina group 7 steps 7 steps hop-step-steps x3 jumps
Bradu de la Pecica Nistor [7] 7 steps 7 steps hop-step-steps x3 jumps

Published on 15th April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Dance: Mândra or Mândrele

Mândra or Mândrele is a dance from Oltenia region (southern Romania, predominantly Dolj county) and Vidin region (Bulgaria) in an asymmetric rhythm. I understand from local dance specialists that this dance was once more popular throughout Oltenia, but there are only three published dance notations[1][2][3] and a number of musical pieces. In Romanian dance classification Mândrele is classified within the “Rustem” dance type[4] due to the asymmetric rhythm of the steps.

Mândra means the “proud” girl or beloved girl and Mândrele is the plural form, the proud ones or the beloved ones.[4][5] Mândra, the beloved, is a very common word in songs texts. Mândrele is also associated with the female mythological beings typical of the Carpatho-Danubian region euphemistically named Iele (they), Mândrele (Beauties), or Vântoasele (Windy Ones).[4]

There is a related dance with a different choreology under the title Mândrele where the melody is in 6/8 but counted as 5 with count 5 being long (♪♪♪♪♩).[10] There are other dances with similar names, such as Mândrulița, a type of Învârtita (Ciofliceni – Ilfov, and Hințeşti – Argeș [6], Odăile – Buzău[7], Câmpulung – Muscel.[8]

2-3b Mandra – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995


The dance can by in the formation of either a semi-circle[2] or closed circle[3] with hands held at shoulder height. The dance is associated with girls, although Popescu-Județ mentions it can be danced by boys and girls in Băilești (Dolj), whilst Varone says in Vârvoru (Dolj) the girls hold each other by the little fingers.[5] The style of the dance can range from spacious and simple in Segarcea (Dolj), undulating and gliding in Băilești, or fast and jumpy in Hunia (Dolj).[2]


To compare the structure for the three documented versions I have used a basis of measures counted as “long-short” and the optional “hop” as an anacrusis (pickup beat) into the motif which follows the Romanian interpretation of Rustem.

The motifs are:

  • Travelling – long step across behind, short step to side and slightly forwards, most often the dancers are facing partially against the direction of travel so it appears they are moving backwards. The last beat is often a pause or low hop as a preparation for the next motif.
  • Single crossing step – for right foot start: step right in place, step left across in front, step right in place, optional low hop. This takes 2 measures.
  • Double crossing step – This takes 4 measures.
  • Step-hop or step-lift – Can be travelling prior to the “travelling step” or in place between “single crossing step”.
Location measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4 measure 5 measure 6 measure 7 measure 8
Vidin region Travelling Travelling Travelling Travelling Single crossing Single crossing
Băilești, Dolj[1] Step-hop Step-hop Travelling Travelling Travelling Travelling
Goicea, Dolj[2] Single crossing Step-lift Step-lift Double crossing
Moțăței, Dolj[3] Single crossing Single crossing Travelling Travelling Single crossing
Moțăței, Dolj[3] Single crossing Single crossing Step-hop Step-hop Single crossing

3-2g. Mandra – Vinarovo, Vidin – 1995

In the Vidin region (Bulgaria) there is a single dance choreology with only minor differences. The structure is travelling around the circle facing slightly backwards using asymmetric steps (“long-short” or “short-long” depending on your perspective) for four measures and a two single crossing steps performed in place. The pattern is repeated in the opposite direction.

In Dolj (Romania) the three notations give very different combinations of motifs suggesting the title reflects a predominantly girls dance of the Rustem type, but does not relate to a single popular “dance” choreology as it does in Bulgaria.

It is clear the Dolj (Romania) dances and Vidin (Bulgaria) are related as predominantly girls dance of the Rustem type. However there is a distinct difference in that the dance in the Vidin region relates to a single dance choreology, whereas in Dolj Mândrele is a title used for a dance from this family of dances.


“Fidankite” Vidin – 2022

The understanding of the rhythm is interpreted differently by various authors. The Romanian choreographers[2][3] and musicians[6] notate the music and dance in 3/8 which can be rhythmically “three equal beats” or “long-short” for a measure. This allows the measure to be three equal steps, or the short step as an anacrusis (pickup beat) into the strong long step, thus the count is “&, one &, two”, an interpretation in common with similar dances such as Rustem.

From a Bulgarian perspective[9] and as described by Giurchescu[4] the rhythm is 5/16 “short-long” as in the Paidusko type of dance, so the short beat is considered the first beat of the measure, very often just a low hop. However, this does not easily allow for a measure with three nearly equal beats in the steps or melody.

The music and dance from the older videos from the Vidin region dance groups are close to the Romanian Rustem whereas the more recent videos such as “Fidankite” group from Vidin (2022) sound and dance more like a Paidusko.

Mândrele – Constantin Chisăr

There are three recordings played as a Rustem[11], for example the recording by Constantin Chisar. However the best known recordings (Ion Lăceanu, Gheoghe Zamfir) are musically arranged and at a slow tempo (in 3/8 rhythm) played by professional orchestras from Bucharest. The version by Ion Lăceanu is the recording used for the recreational “folk dance” choreography Mândrele (de la Obârșia).[13]

My analysis of the rhythm using three Bulgarian examples and two Romanian examples suggests that the ratio of the rhythm is generally close to 5/16 with the “triplets” in the melody formed by dividing the long beat and a slight averaging across the measure, however the Romanian notations and professional orchestras appear to have “quantised” the rhythm to 3/8.

When considering the ‘single crossing’ motif, it looks like the start point of this motif is different in people’s minds. In Gamzovo village the dancers start the dance at the ‘step left across in front’ rather than the low hop suggesting this is the motif start in their minds, whereas Bregovo  village the dancers appear to dance with the “hop” being the dominant start.

From a Romanian Rustem perspective the dance rhythm is “long-short” and from a Bulgarian Paidusko perspective the dance rhythm is “short-long”. Some melodies can be written in either, and others appear to be in “long-short”, so my opinion is that the dance falls into the Rustem category.

Published on 3rd April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Videos: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)

A selection of videos for our post on dance Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира) in Romania and Bulgaria Hora: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)


Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș – 1999

Băluța from Argeș region performed by Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș, choreographer Dorin Oancea.

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow 2 measure steps in place

Băluța la Badesti

Băluța from Bădești, Argeș county as danced now at weddings. The travelling step fast steps are often reduced to two foot touches in front. The travelling is only to the left. The interface figure is

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow Forward and back hora

Baluța – Desa, Dolj regions – 1968

This is a 1968 recording from Desa, Dolj county. Although this video is indexed as Crăițele and another in the library is indexed as Băluța, however it is clear this recording is in the same form as the local Băluța (similar to Stoicăești, Olt [1]).

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 4 fast + 2 slow, only to the left Double crossing step and two single crossing steps



15c. Shira – Kosovo, Vidin – 1995

Kosovo, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing

15q. Shira – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995

Negovanovtsi, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing

13c Sumer, Montana (Shira) – 1995

Sumer, Montana county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
  4 fast + 2 slow x3 continuous crossing steps

1g. Shira – Vrav, Vidin – 2010

Vrav, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 1 slow + 4 fast + 1slow x4 long crossing steps, repeated with opposite footwork

Shira, Mihaylovo village, Vratsa region – 2019

Mihailovo, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa or Chele une 4 fast + 2 slow x3 syncopated single crossing

Balutsa Балуца – Beli Izvor Бели извор, Vratsa region – 1991

Beli Izvor, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing performed with less crossing and more to side

Balutsa – Sofronievo village, Vratsa region – 2022

Sofronievo, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa 4 fast + 2 slow x3

extra figure of double crossing, single crossing and heel clicks in place

single crossing

Published on 31st March 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Dance: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)

Băluța is a type of Hora danced in the regions of Vlașca, Argeș, Muscel, Vâlcea, Romanați and Dolj in southern Romania[1], and a variation of this dance is also danced the Vratsa region of Bulgaria under the title Balutsa (Балуца) and in the Vidin region under the title Shira (Шира).

The generic characteristic of these dances is that there are two parts, the first is a travelling part, progressing around the circle, that is formed from a repeated combination of 2 slow steps and 4 or 6 fast steps, and the second part is performed in place or moving side to side.

Many videos of this dance are on our page: Videos: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)

In Romanian dance classification Băluța is generally classified within the “Rustem” dance type[2] due to the asymmetric rhythm of the steps. The notations for versions in Oltenia[3][4] are notated as 3/8 whereas the other versions are notated in 2/4 [1][5][6][7][8] however the dance steps in reality may still be performed in asymmetric rhythm.

15q. Shira – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995

Băluța is a colloquial term for “blond”, such as for a white horse[2] from “băl” (old Slavic bala вѣлъ) +diminuative -uța.[9] Shira is from Romanian “șir” meaning row, Shira is “rows” (plural), Shirul is “the row”. Șir is from the Latin word “series”.[10]

In the Vratsa region of Bulgaria this dance can also be titled Shala una (Шала уна), for example from the repertoire of the dance groups from the villages of Ohrid, Portitovtsi and Asparuhovo and also under the title Chele une (Челе уне) by the group from Mihailovo (but announced as Balutsa at the Koprivshitsa festival in 2022). These names sound like derivations from the typical strigături for the first step of the figures. In simple form these are just și una! but can also have the extra syllable și-ii! una! [1], și-ii locu or și su-cu a.[11]

As is typical in Romania, there are different dance choreologies under the same title. There is another dance titled Băluța comprising of crossing step combinations and moving forwards and back in a line.[11]


Figure A1 Figure B1 Figure A2 Figure B2
Băluța and Shira Travelling figure Interface figure Travelling figure (in opposite direction) Interface figure

Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș – 1999

The generic characteristic of these dances is that there are two parts, the first is a travelling figure progressing around the circle and a second interface figure is performed in place or moving side to side. So between the travelling steps there are some steps in place (or just side-to-side or forward and back) before the travelling figure recommences.

Generally the dance repeats alternating between the right and left directions, however in Pădureți the direction only changes when a command is shouted[1] and in Urluieni the dance is only to the left.[12]

Travelling figure

The feature of the travelling figure is that it is formed from 2 walking steps and 4 or 6 fast steps, which are repeated a number of times, and can be performed either to the right or left.

There appears to be three variations of this travelling figure:

  1. Oltenia (Romania) a 24 measure phrase comprising repeats of 6 fast steps + 2 slow steps,
  2. Argeș (Romania) and a few other villages 1 slow step + 4 fast steps + 1 slow step,
  3. Bulgaria a pattern of 4 fast steps + 2 slow steps repeated 3 or 4 times.
Click for more details …
Travelling figure steps Locations
6 fast + 2 slow
Știubei, Căciulatu, Obârșia de Câmp – Dolj
Izvorul Rece – Vâlcea
1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow
Lăpușata – Vâlcea
Pădureți – Argeș
Vrav – Vidin
Ohrid – Montana
4 fast + 2 slow
x4 Novo Selo – Vidin
x3 Antimovo, Florentin, Gamzovo, Kapitanovtsi, Kosovo, Kutovo, Negovanovtsi , Pokrayna, Rakovitsa – Vidin
Asparuhovo, Portitovtsi, Sumer – Montana
Beli Izvor, Manastirishte, Mihailovo, Sofronievo – Vratsa
x2.5 Gradets – Vidin
xN Stoicănești – Olt

The notations from Dolj[3][4] and Vâlcea[11] are based on a 6 counts travelling figure that is repeated five times and concludes with a shortened pattern to fit the musical phrase of 24 measures. The second part is 8 measures so the total dance is 32 measures concordant with the music[4], that is then repeated in the opposite direction.

In Argeș region the pattern is 4 counts “a slow step performed on the first measure and 5 faster steps on the other 3 measures”.[1] There is a difference between the Bulgarian (Vrav, Ohrid) and Romanian (Argeș) versions for the “1 slow step + 4 fast steps + 1 slow step”. In the Romanian case the first slow step is to the side and the first fast step is a large step across so the “&” is the fast side step, whereas in Bulgaria the slow first step is a large step across so the side step in on the count and the closing step is on the “&”.

In Bulgaria (and Stoicănești in Romania) the most common pattern is 4 fast steps + 2 slow steps, but this is repeated only 3 times typically in Bulgaria.


Generally in Romania the dance phrases remain concordant with the musical phrases, at least to the 4 measure phrases, but in all the Bulgarian versions (apart from in Vrav, Novo Selo and Rakovitsa) the travelling figure of the dance plus a single interface step causes an odd number of counts, thus the repeat to the left direction is on the opposite beat of the music compared to traveling to the right[13], so the first step is on count 1 to the right and count 2 to the left. The travelling figure is repeated three times, so 12 counts, followed by a single “interface” step making the sequence 13 counts.

In Vrav and Novo Selo the travelling figure is repeated 4 times (so 16 counts) and the in place figure follows directly. In Rakovitsa the melody is cut short so that the dance remains concordant to the music.

Interface figure

Click for more details …
Interface figure steps Locations
Single crossing Antimovo, Florentin, Kapitanovtsi, Kosovo, Kutovo, Negovanovtsi,
Pokrayna, Rakovitsa – Vidin
Asparuhovo – Montana
Beli Izvor, Manastirishte, Sofronievo – Vratsa
Izvorul Rece – Vâlcea
Stoicăești – Olt
Syncopated single crossing Mihailovo – Vratsa
Portitovtsi, Ohrid – Montana
Continuous crossing steps Gamzovo, Novo Selo, Vrav – Vidin
Sumer – Montana
Sofronievo – Vratsa
Bidirectional phrase Știubei, Căciulatu, Obârșia de Câmp – Dolj
Lăpușata – Vâlcea
Pădureți – Argeș
Gradets – Vidin

Generally this is a figure that is mostly in place, but can be a repeated motif that might travel a little in alternating directions, which is inserted between the travelling figures.

In Bulgaria the most common figure is “single crossing” (step in place, step across in front, step in place and a low hop, then repeated with the opposite foot). There is a syncopated version of this in the Montana and Vratsa regions which often coincides with the dance being known as Shala una. Another figure is continuous crossing steps (step in place, step across in front, step in place and repeat with opposite foot, and continue to end of the phrase).

In Romania the notated versions mainly have bidirectional phrases and not crossing steps. The common form at parties now tends to just have a forward and back Hora before the next travelling figure.



Shira, Kutovo, Vidin region – 2019

The dance can be in the formation of either open or closed circles, although a closed circle seems to predominate in Romania and an open circle in Bulgaria. The hands are held generally either at shoulder level (so called “W” hold) and/or in low hold (so called “V” hold), however in Bulgaria there are a few examples in belt hold (Beli Izvor – Vratsa, Kutovo – Vidin) and crossed hand-hold in front (Antimovo – Vidin).


Popescu-Județ[1] list regions where this dance was popular (presumably during the 1950s) as Vlașca, Argeş, Muscel, Vâlcea, Romanați and Dolj, however there are few references in the later collections of dances from these regions. So it appears that the popularity in Romania decreased quickly from the mid-20th century. The variability of choreology and regional versions in Romania suggests this dance had time to evolve and diverge in the local dancing prior to the mid-20th century.

Whereas in Bulgaria, most examples have a very similar choreology and structure, including the odd number of counts for the dance, suggesting the popular dance is more recently distributed from a single variant. This is also suggested by the border of Shira being at the current Bulgarian-Serbian border whereas the old strata fund of dances was practiced by the population either side of the border. The naming as Shira in the Vidin region is clearly localised and in Romanian (meaning the Latin based language), but this dance name does not appear within Romania suggesting this naming is local to Vidin region.

It should be noted that there are some different variations in the Vidin region (Gradets, Vrav, Novo Selo) that do not follow the common version suggesting these are older versions or more closely related to the Romanian versions.

The name Shala una or Chele une appears to be specific to the Montana region, but is not in Bulgarian language, instead sounding like a derivative from a Romanian shout at the start of the figure, something like “and at one” or “like at one”.

Published on 31st March 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Banat plain couple dance cycle

Ansamblul Profesionist Banatul – suită de dansuri

The social dances in the villages of the Banat plain were, in past times, mostly couple dances. The Bartók music collections dating between 1912 and 1913 included some dance music, and certain dances were notated by Marcu in the 1960s, but now dancing knowledge for these older dances remains transmitted only within the dance groups and ensembles.

There are several ways to hold a partner that are described by Bartók[1] and by Marcu[2]. Bartók describes partners side-by-side holding inside hands while facing along the column whereas the most typical hold described by Macru is face-to-face with a partner and holding hands down low. Both authors also describe a face-to-face hold where the woman’s hands are on the man’s shoulders and the man holds the woman at the waist. Marcu calls the hold in the faster Întoarsa as “like the modern dance” (ballroom hold). For these dances Marcu describes the couples are positioned in the dance space such that they form a column with the men on one side and the women on the other.

On the Timiş Plain, cycles are loosely constructed of the dances Sorocul, întroarsa, Pre loc (De doi), and Hora.

Giurchescu and Bloland [3]

These dances fall into Anca Giurchescu’s “Ardeleana” category[3], however in the local publications all except those known as Ardeleana (which generally have the same basic step pattern) are excluded from the title of “Ardelene”.

The dance cycle on the Banat plain is predominantly couple dances, apart from Hora. The Hora was only ever danced once at an event, the first dance at a wedding, the first or last dance at social dance events. We can see some change and progression of the cycle over time through the works of Bartók (1910s), Marcu (1960s) and more recent publications. Bartók’s documentation has the faster couple dance De întorsu at the end of the dance cycle and the slowest dance (Larga or Rara) in the middle. However Larga (locations of Mureni, Jadani, Seceani) or Rara (locations Igriș, Saravale) are not documented in later Banat publications.

Soroc is hardly mentioned by Bartók (only one musical transcription, but is included in his notes on the dances), however Soroc is included in the dance cycle described by Marcu[2] and Giurchescu[3]. Currently Soroc is a key feature in stage presentations of Banat plain dances, although it has all but disappeared from the current local social repertoire.

There is a general theme that Bartók describes the dances (Pre loc, Pe picior, Întoarsa) as being for couples not in a group formation, whereas some 50 years later Marcu describes the same dances as danced in a formation of a column. This could suggest a mid-twentieth century fashion for dancing in a column formation?

First dance Middle dances Last dance
Bartók[1] Timiș region Pe loc or Pe picioare Larga De întorsu
Bartók[1] Torontal Pe loc or Pe sarite or De doi Rara or Ardeleana De întorsu or De sucite
Marcu[2] Soroc selected from: Duba, Bradu, Desca, Lența, Judecata Hora
Marcu[2] location Cornești Hora Legănata Sucita
Giurchescu[3] Soroc întoarsa Pre loc (De doi)
Ilie and Radu Vincu (Electrecord ‎– ST-EPE 01685) Soroc întoarsa Pe loc
Suvergel[4] locations Jebel, Pădureni, Sânmihai and Utvin Hora mare Pă trii pași Pră loc
Suvergel[4] second variant Hora mare (excluded in Mureș zone) Soroc (men then couples) Pră loc and Întoarsa

Published on 25th November 2021, last modified on 2nd May 2023

Column dances of the Banat plain

See our web page on Banat column dances. for a discussion on dance form in relation to the other Banat couple dances.

Marcu[1] discusses the dancing at Sunday dances on the Banat plain in past times when three to five dances were played cyclically, one after the other as a suite, for example: Sorocul – followed by a selection from the following: Duba, Bradu, Desca, Lența, Judecata – ending with Hora.

Giurchescu[2] lists under her “Type 1 slow Ardeleana” a list of Banat Ardelene plus dances Lența, Șireghea, Duba, Bradul, Desca, Măzărichea.

Marcu [1] puts the couple dances of Banat into groups linked by inclusion of a “typical” motif common to those dances in the group. The relevant groups are:

  • “Group A” is based on the motif of 7 side steps performed bilaterally in which he includes Sireghea, Judecata (or Iepura), De doi, Cana (or Oala), and Cârligul.
  • “Group B” dances “Măzărica type” includes MăzăricaToldăuland Poșovoaica.
  • “Group C” is based on the characteristic motif of a jump in the dance Duba, and Marcu lists the variants as Lenţa, Bradu, Turca-furca, Cucuruzul and Șchioapa.

Timișoara and south

Around Timișoara and to the south there are the column couple dances based on 7 steps danced bilaterally to right and left, Judecata, De doi, Cȃrligu, which are recorded by Bartók and later authors, particularly Judecata is part of a wider central European family of popular 19th century dances. The other column dances described by Marcu fall into those linked to men’s dances (Sireghea, Țandara and Cucuruzul) and those that are related to Ardeleana, in particular similar to the Ardeleana from the mountain zones.

There is a clear dividing line between those north of Timișoara (approximately the line of Sânnicoau Mare– Arad–Lipova) and around Timișoara, towards Lugoj, and south to the Banat hills and mountains. A similar division is seen with the older layer of dances, Soroc, Întoarsa and Pe picior, although these appear to have also migrated south to around Timișoara.

This dividing line appears to be consistent for most of the dance repertoire apart from the old Banat couple dance, Pe loc, which is recorded over the whole Banat area.

Note: The video clips below are of the Datina group in Ghiroda under the leadership of Emilian Dumitru.

Judecata, De doi, Cȃrligu – bidirectional 7+7 side steps

These dances are based on a concept of a figure A with a bidirectional 7 side steps pattern, and a contrasting figure B (similar in concept to Bradu from north of Timișoara). Nistor notates a dance with a similar structure called Sfădita [8] as a couple dance from Birchiș and is also within the suite of the men’s Călușeri dances from Roșia Nouă (Arad county)[10].

These dances should not be confused with the 3+3+7 step Măzărica, although this is not fixed as Poşovoaica can be either 3+3+7 or 7+7 patterns.

Misleadingly Marcu terms the wider family of dances as “Sireghea type” and includes Judecata, De doi (around Timișoara), Cȃrligu, and Cucuruzul[1]. Șireghea and Cucuruzul have specific step patterns and so are clearly separate dance types that also have a theme of starting with 7 side steps.

Click for more details …
title reference figure A figure B
De doi ca la Giroc Marcu [1] 7 steps hop-step-steps variant figure A
De doi ca la Topolovățul Mare Marcu [1] 7 steps 7 steps no figure B
Judecata Marcu [1] 7 steps 7 steps finger gestures
Cana Marcu [1] 7 steps 7 steps turning as a couple
Cârligul Marcu [1] 7 steps 7 steps jumps and pointing steps
Damu (de la Prigor) Lațcu [3] 7 steps 7 steps claps and turn partner

De doi

De doi translates as “for two” meaning for couples. Bartók [9] puts De mâna (Igriș and Cenadu Mare) and De doi (Petrovasile now Vladimirovac) together under the same category in his summary table, so we cannot be sure of the dance type he is referring to. De doi in the Timișoara region is not the same as the mountain De doi (that is also danced in the Caraș valley) which is based on “1101” weight change pattern (3+3+2+3 steps).

Notations Locations
Bela Bartók [9] De doi – Vladimirovac
(De mâna – Igriș, Cenadu Mare)
Ionel Marcu [1][6] De doi – Giroc, Topolovățul Mare, Birchiș, Țela
Recordings Locations
Efta Botoca ST-EPE 04199 De doi – Giroc, Topolovățul Mare, Birchiș, Țela
Ion Peptenar ST-EPE 03653, ST-EPE 04177 De doi – Jebel, Remetea Mare, Șuștra, Chizătău
Orchestra Stan Simion Bănățeanu EPC 879 De doi – Toracul Mare


Judecata (judgement) or (I)epura are part of the central European family of dances with a figure of “finger gestures” of the index finger directed to the partner. Marcu [1] describes versions at Hitiaș and Pădureni and a generic regional version titled Șesul Banatean. Bartók notates one at Ghilad [2].

Notations Locations
Bela Bartók [9] Judecata – Ghilad
Ionel Marcu [1] Judecata – Hitiaș, Pădureni
Nicolae Ursu [11] Judecata – Șanovița
Recordings Locations
Efta Botoca EPD 1288 Judecata
Rencontre: Banat ST-EPE 0751 Judecata


The dance has a figure B based on small leaps and pointing the un-weighted foot, with some steps or stamps in between. Note that the name Cârligul also refers to a different men’s dance in the Banat mountain region. Cȃrligu means a “hook” derived from Bulgarian кирли[12] and is a common dance name for various dissimilar dances across southern Romania and Banat.

Notations Locations
Ionel Marcu [1] Cârligul – Banloc and Pădureni
Trandafir Jurjovan [7] Cârligul – Ovcea
Recordings Locations
Efta Botoca EPD 1288 Cârligul
Rencontre: Banat ST-EPE 0751 Cârligul

Sireghea and Țandara – 7 side steps + jumps + 3 steps

Ansamblul DATINA : Jocuri traditionale din Campia Banateana (de Emilian Dumitru)

The examples of Sireghea and Țandara have a fixed step pattern of 7 side steps, two jumps on both feet, followed by 3 steps.

The name Șireghea is derived from șireag meaning string[2] which is an older word for string, row, or line (from șir for row, derived from Latin) which can be “used to refer to a group of boys dancing holding hands”.[15] Țandara means a splinter from breaking or shattering something, derived from Saxon zänder”.[12]

Marcu[6] gives one example of Sireghea as a column dance of couples, that he notated in four, which is very similar to Țandara danced as a chain dance as performed by the Datina group. Nistor[9] documents two versions in Arad county; Șereghia from Birchiș and Țandăra from Bârzava which unusually is based on a 3 step pattern and has three further figures as variations. The same step pattern is also described as a men’s Brâu called Țandara in the mountain village of Obreja.[5]

Click for more details …
title reference measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4
Sireghea Marcu [1] 7 steps jumps 3 steps
Țandara de le Hitiaș Datina group 7 steps jumps 3 steps
Țandara (Bârzava) Nistor [8] 3 steps 3 steps jumps 3 steps
Sireghea (Birchiș) Nistor [8] 7 steps jumps 3 steps
Țandara (de la Obreja) Lațcu [5] 7 steps jumps 3 steps

Cucuruzul – 5 measure phrases

Ansamblul DATINA : Jocuri traditionale din Campia Banateana (de Emilian Dumitru)

The common theme for this dance is 5 measure phrases, very unusual in Romanian dances. The dance phrase includes patterns of 7 side steps and 3 side steps. The name Cucuruz means corn (maize) from Slavic, the –ul making the name a definite article.

The three examples referenced all have different sequences of typical motifs. Marcu’s [1] notation of a couple dance from the Banat plain, Lațcu’s [5] notation of a men’s Brâu from Glimboca in the mountain region and the version performed as Cucuruzul de la Cladova by the Datina group. This dance is not in Bartók’s or Brediceanu’s notations.

Click for more details …
title reference measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4 measure 5
Cucuruzul Marcu [1] 7 steps jumps jumps 3 steps
Cucuruzul de la Cladova Datina group 3 steps 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps
Cucuruzul (de la Glimboca) Lațcu [5] 7 steps 3 steps 7 steps

Șchioapa – just bounces

Marcu’s [1] Șchioapa (village of Banloc) is just “jumps”, or more exactly demi-plié and bounces that is much the same as figure A in Măzărica [6] (villages of Ciuchici, Nicolinți, Naidaș, Răcaidia) and Sărita [3] from the village of Ciuchici. Turca-furca [1] is similar with the addition of raising one foot forward during the bounces.

Măzărica, Toldăul, Poșovoaica – pattern of 3+3+7 side steps

Marcu’s names his “group B” dances “Măzărica type”. The dances are based on steps in the pattern of 3+3+7 steps, this is also a weight change pattern of “1101” (steps per measure are 3+3+4+3) which is very typical of the Banat zone and a common variant of the typical mountain zone Ardeleana.

Măzărica is Romanian for type of peas [12], Toldăul is an iron nail or screw [12] from Hungarian toldó, Poșovoaica derives from a joke or lie [12]. Poșovoaica is better known as men’s dance from the Banat mountains.

These dances are not in Marcu’s list of column dances can be requested to dance following Soroc in the dance cycle, and are not included in Giurchescu’s “Type 1 slow Ardeleana” list. However, as these are “column dances” from the Banat plain, in a similar form to many of the above dances, I have included them for completeness, although in terms of choreographic relations these dances should be part of a discussion of the “Ardeleana” family of dances in relation to the mountain dance repertoire.

Bartók [9] recorded Poșovoaica at four locations, but no examples of Măzărica. Nistor documents Măzărichea in the Arad region.

Click for more details …
title reference Figure A Figure B
Măzărica de la Utvin Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps half turn on 7 steps
Măzărica (Bătuta) Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps half turn on 7 steps
Toldăul Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps half turn on 7 steps
Poșovoaica Marcu [1] 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps half turn on 7 steps


Notations Locations
Bela Bartók [9] Poșovoaica – Tolvadia (Livezile), Banloc, Foeni and Jebel
Ionel Marcu [1] Măzărica – Utvin
Toldăul – Coștei
Poșovoaica – Banloc
Achim Penda [13] Mâzârica – Comorâști
Nicolae Ursu [11] Măzărica – Șanovița
Viorel Nistor [8] Măzărichea – Birchiș, Apateu

Poșovoaica as taught by Serbian teacher Milovan Ognjanovic has figure A as 7+7 side steps, and figure B as 3+3+7 plus turning with partner, demonstrating the interchangeability of the motifs.

We should note that the same step pattern and melody is recorded in the Serbian community of Sânnicolau Mare as a chain dance titled Sestica [4].

Published on 30th August 2021, last modified on 1st May 2023

Transylvania: Age of migrations

Just for fun a couple of decades ago I took the archaeology maps from “History of Transylvania” [1] and overlaid the Romanian ethnographic regions (the celebrated areas with old layers of Romanian folklore) on to the maps of archaeology sites for the various waves of invaders.

The history of Transylvania is particularly illusive, even though Transylvania was on the trade route from the Black Sea to Western Europe. There is a continuing (can never be proven) debate regarding the arrival of the Latin speaking Romanians; are they Romanised Dacians, or other Romanised peoples that moved there later, and if so, before or after the Magyars?

Köpeczi is one of the key works attempting to support the opinion that the Latin speaking people arrived there in the later medieval times, after the arrival of the Magyars (Hungarians). This book provides plenty of data, but its process of justifying an assumption linked to some notion is less than scientific.

My overlays do not prove anything, but could suggest that most of the invaders populated the valleys and lowlands, and so were separate from any peoples living in the mountains?

Goths and Gepids 3rd to 6th centuries

Goths and Gepids 3rd to 4th century

The Goths and Gepids (270-567) were Germanic peoples from southern Scandinavia who migrated south to around the Black Sea in the 3rd century AD. The frequent incursions of the Ostrogoths (from modern Ukraine) and the Visigoths (from around the Danube) into the Roman Empire caused the Romans to abandon Dacia in 270.

Huns 4th to 5th centuries

The rule of the Goths was ended by the Huns (375-453), a Turkic tribe coming from the plains east of modern Russia. The Huns under the leadership of Attila were a major military force in central Europe and their rule covered much of modern Hungary and Transylvania.

Gepid kingdom 5th to 6th centuries

Gepid kingdom 5th to 6th centuries

The Gepid leader, Ardaric, was a favoured ally of the Huns. After Attila’s death the Huns left Europe. The Gepids occupied the area east of the Tiza (now in Hungary and Romania) where they remained within the Hun kingdom. After the fall of the Huns they briefly ruled much of modern Romania until they were forced out by the Ostrogoths. They were subsequently defeated by the Romans and disappeared from history.

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

Avars 6th to 8th centuries

The Avars (552-796), another Asian-Turkic tribe from the east, took control of parts of southern Russia and Eastern Europe from the Huns and Slavs. They occupied most of modern Hungary with their empire stretching from the Black Sea to the Baltic, but in the 8th century their empire shrank and was finally ended by Charlemagne in 805.

Slavs from the 6th century

Slavs 8th to 10th centuries

By the 6th century the Slavs were the largest European language group. Following the dissolution of the Hun Empire the Slavic peoples rapidly expanded populating modern Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Little remains of Slavic Romania apart from many place and river names, and possibly the voivode and administrative organisation used by medieval Romanians and also inherited by the Magyars in Transylvania.


The Bulgars, a Turkic tribe from the east, having been forced from their kingdom around the Black Sea, formed the First State of Bulgaria (680), as rulers of the Slavs. Their kingdom covered the Danube plain to the north (modern Romania) and south (modern Bulgaria). Later the state of Bulgaria was extended further south into Thrace and Macedonia. The Bulgarian rule extended briefly into Transylvania

Magyar (Hungarian) from the 11th century

Hungarians 11th century

Five Magyar tribes and two Kun tribes entered the Danube basin in 896, settling within modern Hungary. Although these tribes had co-existed with Turkic peoples in the Steppe for a long time, their language structure is distantly related to the Ugrian peoples which is linked to the Finns, Estonians, and peoples of Siberia. In the following centuries the Magyars extended their rule in all directions forming the country now called Hungary after its previous rulers, the Huns.

Published on 29th July 2021, last modified on 15th April 2023

Hora dance in the Banat region

Hora is danced at community occasions in the three ethnographic zones of Banat – the Banat plain, Banat hills and mountains[1]. In southern Banat the older dance cycle is typically Brâul followed by either, or both, Hora and Sârba. On the Timiș plain the dance cycles are loosely constructed of Sorocul, întroarsa, Pre loc (De doi), and Hora [2]. The generic Hora from Banat, that is most commonly practiced at events, is documented by Ionel Marcu as Hora bănățeană [1].

The dance name Hora (in Banat) refers to one dance pattern, but two styles of music; a slower more deliberate melody particular to Banat, and the upbeat music more typical of a Romanian Hora. To differentiate the former this might be referred to as Hora mare, or the upbeat dance might be referred to as Hora mica.

Banat Hora danced at the start of the wedding celebrations

In Banat Hora has a few common features that are less common in the rest of Romania:

  1. It takes place in the form of a semi-circle [3], in an open circle with a leader. This is unlike the typical Romanian closed circle and more typical of Balkan regions to the south.
  2. In Banat the dancers of Hora can link by holding hands at shoulder height or it is equally acceptable to hold hands in a low position. In this there is a cross-over between the Serbian urban “town-craft” [4] dances and the Romanian Hora repertoires [5].
  3. The structure of the dance phrase. is universally a 4+4 measure pattern conforming to a fixed step rhythmic pattern plus typical floor pattern. This is also the most common dance structure in the associated dances the wider Banat area. Although this pattern is found in other hore dances throughout Romanian it is not universal or a particularly common pattern.

There is also a close connection between the structurally similar Brâul bătrân and Hora in their function at community events and life cycle events such as weddings and funerals [2].

Dance structure

Hora starting the evening dancing for a village Ruga

The typical Hora in Banat has two stable structural parts to its construction. Hora mare is nowadays quite consistent throughout the region, but from past notations we can see some diversity in localised variations.

Pattern of steps (weight changes)

The rhythmical pattern of the steps – slow, slow, quick-quick, slow – is repeated with the opposite feet making an 8 measure sequence, or in Leibman terminology 1101.1101 [6].

By phrase structure, Giurchescu connects the Banat dances Hora, Brâul bătrân, Danț and De doi [2] and Green also connects Četvorka (Hora la patru) in northeastern Serbia and the local Banat version of the Serbian dance Žikino kolo [5].

Using the Leibman method of considering “weight changes” and notating this parity as “1” or “0” per measure of music easily allows the pattern connections between dances with variations in rhythmic construction in many forms of Balkan chain dances.

Measure 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Parity of weight changes 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1

Floor plan

Banat Hora danced at pre-lenten customs

There is a basic concept in the floor plan for the direction of the line in local chain dances. The concept tends to be adhered to independent of the specific local dance, however the detail varies a little between sub-zones, but creates a common feature for many dances (Brâul in the Banat mountains and the Danube Gorge, local forms of HoraHora mare, Hora mica, Axionul, and Četvorka (Hora la patru) in northeastern Serbia – and the local version of the Serbian dance Žikino kolo [6].

Ionel Marcu commented on this regarding the mountain region (Mehadia, Domasnea), where the basic steps are to the right, then two steps backwards, finally moving to the left with very small steps [1]. However, variations on this pattern are typical over a wider area from Pădureni (Hunedoara) to northeast Serbia.

Measure 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Direction of line

Documented dances

Most Romanian dance notation is presented in textual description or one of the local methods of pictographic notation, and rarely in the international Laban system. This discussion focuses on the parameters of interest for readers without knowledge of these notation systems.

Banat plain

The basic Banat Hora is described in Ionel Marcu’s book Hora bănățeană [1].

Hora is danced in a circle formation, with the dancers holding their joined arms down low, progressing to the right [8].
The Hora from Comloș is characterised by slow steps (in values of minim) with body sways to the right and left, as it is also from Cornești where Hora is the first dance in the dance cycle [8].

In parts of the Banat plain (Sânnicolau, Comloș, Sânmihai, Jebel) there were variants of Hora in which the basic steps was done by the girls but the men made variations with heel clicks [1].

In some locations there is a specific version of Hora danced to particular melodies that is known as Axionul. This follows the introductory Hora [9] or is a dance for men [10].

Mountain Banat

In every sub-zone of the Banat Mountains they dance Hora with some specific features. In the Almăj valley they dance Hora mare but they start with the left foot. In the Caraș valley they also dance a Hora called Mințita. In the Sebeș valley they dance Axionul and Hora popii. In the upper Timiș valley they dance Hora mică [3].

In the Almăj valley, beside the typical Hora ca pe Almaj with its general characteristic of spacious and gentle movements, there is Hora dunărică that has more enriched movements [11].

Hora ca pe Almăj has a second figure that uses subdivision of the first step into 3 short steps. Hora dunărica is unusual as it only progresses to the right, there are no steps backwards or to the left. In this case the notated figure A is the subdivision of the figure B [11].

Hora ca pe Almăj as recorded in the upper Timiș valley (Lațcu and Munteanu, 1971:39) has a typical replacement of the initial two measures as a two step-touch in place. A variation that is also part of the recreational dance version of Axionul.

Dancing in “contra-timp” is typical in the Bistrei and upper Timiș valleys. This is where the steps are delayed a beat with respect to the music. Hora bănățeană from Glimboca is documented in contra-timp [12].

Hora as a combination of chain dance and couple dance

There are dances referred to as Hora that are a line dance followed by a second part where the dancers break from the circle formation and form couples. Examples are Hora “Frunza bradului” in the Almăj valley [11] and Hora de la Teregova in the upper Timiș valley [12].

Four measure hora

The basic Romanian 4 measure hora (three steps forward towards the centre and three steps backwards) is described as Hora lui Birca in the hills (Deal) region, with a variation noted in the villages of Silagiu and Bocșa [8].

Choreographic structure summary

Measures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Parity of weight changes 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1
Hora bănățeană R L RL R



Hora de la Comlosul Mare







Hora de la Cornești







Hora ca pe Almăj (Bozovici) R




Hora dunărica (Lapusnicul Mare)



Hora ca pe Almăj (Teregova)




Hora bănățeană (Glimboca) R L RL R





Published on 16th February 2021, last modified on 1st May 2023

Early references to Banat călușeri

It seems probable there was some form of ritual healing căluș that took place at rusali in the Banat region before the popularity of the late 19th century national revival of călușeri. From the very limited information available it would appear that the Banat custom was not exactly identical to the Transylvanian or Oltenian custom. Viua discussed possible links to the southern Balkan Aroman traditions [1], although there is nothing substantive to support this, however such links are a common underling thread in the Banat hills region.

The earliest know reference of a Banat custom dated from 1832 [2], and was written by Bojincă who came from Gârliște in the Caraș valley and attended school in Oravița. He describes a traditional ritual căluș, where a group of men led by a vătaf, walk through local villages at rusali time. His comments and descriptions in the book are from personal observations, so we might assume he is discussing traditions in his local Banat, but as Neagota points out he does not supply any concrete locational data [3].

The most quoted reference for căluș in Banat is a description by Sofronie Luiba [4] dated 1898, which does not explicitly list the location for his description. He came from Maidan (now called Bradișor, just north of Oravița), where he was the local the local teacher, and according to newspaper reports was active in promoting cultural activities in his village. There is an earlier, and more clearly written, description written by the priest in Maidan, Aureliu Iana (brother-in-law to Luiba), that confirms the locations as Maidan (Brădișor) and Gădiș (Agadici) [5].

Luiba and Iana use a local name of căluceniul, which is otherwise not documented, although in Grebanaț (west of Oravita, now in Serbia) the revival styled călușeri that takes place on the day of the local carnival, and incorporates an older house-to-house tradition, use the name călucerii thus either intentionally or to demonstrate continuation linking the national revival călușeri with an older local tradition.

Ritual Căluș at Maidan

1. After the oath the cărăbuși play the marșul sfintelor (march of the saints), the vătav leads in front, followed by the six căluceni, then the ceiuş and last the bloj.

2. Ciocana or ciocanul is danced in a circle around the sick person and includes beating sounds made by the heels. Iana says this dance resembles the 3rd figure in the modern Călușerul.

3. Zbătută (stamping) is danced in a circle, walking high on the toes with beating sounds made by the heels.

4. Sărita (the jumping) is danced in a circle one behind another, with the căluceni beating their heels on the ground. The figures resemble the figures from bătută of the current călușeri.

5. Ursul (the bear) is danced by the voivode with a woman, especially a sick woman, who wants to dance under the sword. The bloj (mute) takes the vătav on his back to the audience, where the vătav tries to sell the hideous mute but fails to do so.

6. Ciora (the crow) is the dance of the ceiuș who jumps like a crow.

7. As the sun sets the cărăbașii play jocul soarelui (dance of the sun), while all the dancers pass under the sword and hammer.

Aurel Iana 1890 [5]

From Iana we learn about the characters in the căluceni custom, the dances and the sequence of actions [5]. Căluceniul, required eleven people; six călușeri, two cărăbuși (bagpipers), one voevod (prince) or vătav (priest/leader), one ceiuş (from Turkish for the lower rank messenger) and one bloj (mute). They take an oath that they will keep the law of the saints restrain themselves from the worldly things, not look women in the face, and they will dance tirelessly.

The călușeri all have spurs on their heels and dance to the sound of the spurs. The vătav is the commander, he carries a sword and pistols at his waist. The ceiuș has a stick whose head is a hammer (negiac) and has the plants such as dwarf elder (boz which is an old medicinal plant) and garlic in his belt. The bloj has a white goat skin coat and carries a whip. The cărăbuși are the musicians (bagpipers). Mostly in Romania the bagpipe is called cimpoi or a derivative from this. The long pipe is called the bâzoi and the shorter pipe with the finger holes (chanter) is called the caraba (also karaba in Serbian and Croatian). In southern Banat the name of the chanter is use for the whole bagpipe cărabă [6].

Luiba says that the călucenil danced 12 dances with 21 figures, of which three dances were also for women. Collating the information provided by Iana [5] we can generate the list of dances (shown in the box opposite).

There are also descriptions of the ritual custom which resemble the căluș in Oltenia, including: the voivode makes the cross behind the sick man once with the sword, then repeats this and passes his right foot over him. In the evening, when they go to bed, the bloj beats each one with the hammer on the soles of their feet three times.

The only other historic references to a ritual type of căluș in Banat are recorded in Ciclova Română and Borlova. Hedeșan [6] said that in Ciclova Română at rusali the căluș sometimes had a rabbit skin in which wormwood, garlic and some others items were put, then it was sewn up and hung at the top of a stick that was carried by the most respected călușer [7].

At Borlova, in the mountain region, a musician was documented as saying that the ritual căluș between 1935-1942 at rusali included one or more mutes and a flag with medicinal plants [7].

Both appear to have similarities to the ritual in Oltenia, but neither are exact in details. The musician in Borlova could be recalling a memory from elsewhere, and a căluș team in Ciclova-Româna could be an Oltenian team from neighbouring Ciclova-Montâna where Bufeni from Oltenian had immigrated.

Călușeri as a performance

The Romanians from Foenu […] have the tradition that the second, the third of Easter, and other festivals are danced on the road. This public dance, it is known as the big dance (jocul mare).

After lunch, the lads and men on the one hand, the girls and wives on the other hand, began to gather near the place of the dance, and waited intently for the pene (“feathers”) leader to signal that the dance should begin. The musicians then go to the dance space playing music – the dancers follow them, it is the girls who meet everyone in the dance space.

Once the dancers were chosen, and made a big circle, then the musicians remained in the middle. The dance begins and the musicians go around the circle, and those who were close the music began to jump and spin as much as possible […]. Those who know how to dance well and make more figures in the dance are called caluseri.

The music was for violins (lăute), cello (lauta mare) and drum (duba).

anon 1859 [12]

It is assumed from early potential references for Transylvanian călușeri that there was a performance aspect prior to the 1851 revival (not just a ritual at a particular custom date) . In Banat, there are two interesting documents about performance călușeri. The first is from Sofronie Luiba who discusses a written document found in his grandfather’s library.

On the occasion of a party arranged by the officers of our Austrian army and other church leaders in Italy, eleven soldiers, Romanian Transylvanians, dressed in căluceri clothes, danced the căluceri [8].

In the book “Topografia Maiden” [9] we understand that Sofronie’s grandfather was Jurgiu Liuba Marcu, and that his father Miuță Liuba Marcu (who died in 1872) had two uncles that were forced to serve in the Austrian military and fight against Napoleon in France (around 1785). From a list of those serving in 1785 we can see the names of George Liuba and Trăilă Liubia. This tells us that they recognised the Transylvanian călușeri as căluceri and not as an unrelated custom.

The second is an 1859 report of the two days of Easter celebrations at Foeni, a village in the Banat plain area, at that time four hours travel from Timișoara. Foeni has a Romanian majority with a Serbian minority and is separated by history and geography from the other locations referenced which are in the Caraș valley.

The anonymous author confirms the good dancers are called călușeri, but prior to this mentions pene (feathers) which probably refers to the long feathers on the men’s hats, and says there is a leader of the pene who indicates that the event can start. The călușeri dancing at the start of village saint’s days (Nedeea, Ruga) and Easter celebrations was typical in Banat later in the 19th century. It seems unlikely that the national revival călușeri of Iacob Mureșianu first performed in Brașov in 1851 would have been performed in a small Banat village some 20 to 30 years before the wider popularity of this choreographed Salon dance. More probable is that there was already a non-ritual călușeri, possibly related to the connections to Transylvania via immigration from some century earlier.

Published on 5th August 2020, last modified on 1st May 2023

Kalush teams in Bulgaria

Baikal (Байкал), Pleven region
The folklore group is based at the village culture house. The dance themes are similar to both Harlets and Zlatia in terms of the dance circling to the right and followed by a dancing in a line, and the use of the sticks held high and pointing forwards. These themes are consistent with elements in the Căluș from Dolj regon north of the Danube.

Belene (Белене), Pleven region

Kalush - Belene (Белене), Pleven, Bulgaria

Kalush dancers from
Belene (Белене) – 2000

Калушари (Белене), Călușari (Belene) – 1995

The men performed at National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore in Koprivshtitsa in 1995 and 2000.

Harlets (Хърлец), Vratsa region

Калушари (Хърлец), Călușari (Harlets) – 2019

There is a long history of exchange between either side of the Danube. Village interviews say that in 1821 a group of fugitives, who possibly left in the 18th century, returned and settled around the existing village of Hartlets. Some of the villages they returned from are known Căluș villages in Dolj. Later, 36 families left Harlets after the Russo-Turkish War of 1828/29 finding refuge in Romania. The house-to-house tradition stopped after 1946. The village dance group continued performing the custom without choreography or change. They presented at the National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore in Koprivshtitsa in 1995, 2000, 2010, and 2015.

Zlatia (Златия), Montana region

Калушари (Златия), Călușari (Zlatia) – 2019

Up until the end of the 1930s, some of the villagers used to go to the neighbouring town and perform the Kalushari for money. Yet in the village of Zlatia itself there have been no Kalushari since the middle of the 1920s.

Iliev 1999 [1]

The custom of Kalush existed in the village from at least the 1870s and continued until around 1945-6. After the Second World War there was a  small folklore dance group of Kalushari that performed during the 1950s. From 1964 to 1994 an amateur Kalushari dance group based at the village culture house was guided by memories of an informer from the old Kalushari team. This team performed at the National Festival of Folklore in Koprivshtitsa in 1966 and 1981, then disintegrated in 1994. A new Kalushari team first performed on June 29, 2010 at the village fair and in 2014 at the Caracal Căluș festival in Romania [1].

Debovo (Дебово), Pleven region

Kalush - Debovo (Дебово), Pleven, Bulgaria

Kalush – Debovo (Дебово), Bulgaria

The team last performed at the National Festival of Bulgarian Folklore in Koprivshitsa in 1986. The small clip of video suggests a dance in pairs, very similar to the current tradition from Gurgița in Romania and that in Cherkovitsa in Bulgaria.

Ovcha mogila (Овча могила), Veliko Tarnovo region

Kalush / Căluș, village Ovcha Mogila, Veliko Tarnovo region – 2000

Many years ago I found Ovcha mogila on a list of places in Bulgaria with a Căluș tradition, at the time I could find no evidence and the location looked unlikely, but to my surprise I found I had recorded a performance at the Koprivshtitsa festival in 2000. The performance includes many of the features typical of a Căluș but also much that appears to be choreographed. We see synchrony of gestures as part of the choreography, a section with four dancers around the “sick” person clashing sticks above, while the remaining dancers beat a constant rhythm on the ground with their sticks. None of these choreographically attractive features are in any traditional forms.

Cherkovitsa (Черковица), Pleven region

Калушари с.Черковица – 14.06.2014г.

There are films of this group in the village of Cherkovitsa including at a local festival with dates of 2008 and 2014. Iliev says the team did not dance between 1980 and 1990, only meeting for special events and festivals [1]. Comparatively the dance looks most similar to Giurgița in Dolj, Romania and to the little we know about Debrovo.

Published on 23rd July 2020, last modified on 1st May 2023

The Căluș ritual

Căluș - Giurgița, Dolj, Romania
Conțești, Teleorman, Romania

Mute, vătaf with the flag
Conțești (Teleorman, Romania)

The Căluș ritual takes place during the period of Rusalii (Pentecost) which occurs fifty days after Orthodox Easter, and lasts for seven to nine days. This transitional period from spring to summer is when, according to Romanian and Slav folklore, malevolent fairies, known as iele are at their most active. During Rusalii the villagers were subject to certain work interdictions. They must not clean their houses, work in the fields, or with animals. If they broke these interdictions they could become possessed by the iele which resulted in a mysterious form of nervous illness which could only be cured by being ‘danced’ by the Călușari (dancers), the main ritual actors of the Căluș tradition.

Giurgița, Dolj, Romania

Garlic and wormwood – Giurgița (Dolj, Romania)

The period of Rusalii was a liminal period in villagers lives [1] as during this time normal relationships within the village were suspended. The traditional Căluș ritual had three distinct stages which equate to those in Turner’s extension [2] of Van Gennep’s Rites of Passage. The Căluș tradition commenced on the evening of Rusalii with the taking of the ritual oath, which formed the stage of separation or pre-liminal period. For the period of Rusalii itself the Călușari danced in the village, performed ritual dramas and carried out ritual healings (the transition or liminal period). The final, post liminal stage, was the unbinding of Căluș which formed the reintegration of the Călușari into their previous roles within the village.

The leader (vătaf) of the Călușari had special powers. Once appointed, he kept his role throughout life. During Rusalii the Călușari were bound by a set of ritual laws, which included obedience to the vătaf, they must never be alone, and must have no contact with women (if they broke this they lost the ability to dance). They had to wear garlic and wormwood in their belts to fortifying their powers and protect them from ‘spiritual’ harm.

Pre-liminal stage

Flag raising (Ridicarea steagului) and oath taking (depunerea jurământului)

Goiești, Dolj, Romania

Căluș – Goiești (Dolj, Romania)

The secret oath (jurământ) was taken on the eve of Rusalii, at sunset (a liminal time between day and night), at a liminal place; a crossroads or mound, on the edge of the village. Once the oath had been sworn the group were bound together for the period of Rusalii, and the Călușari were bound to dance the Căluș for nine years. The flag (steag) was raised. This was made of a wooden pole, with a white cloth tied to its top. The cloth contained a bunch of green garlic and wormwood. These were vital elements in the ritual as they were considered to have magical curative powers. This ceremony represented the ‘Rite of Passage’ setting the Călușari apart. During Rusalii their normal social relationships within the village were suspended, and they took on a supranormal existence, thus coming under the iele’s possession, being ‘betwixt and between’ [1]. This gave them the power to mediate between the spiritual world and the real world and to cure anyone inflicted with iele sickness. A complex spiritual relationship existed between these fairies and the Călușari built on oppositions (see Table).

Călușari Iele
Male Female
Diurnal (sun) – dance / heal by day Nocturnal (moon) – active at night
Real world Spiritual world
Performed within the village boundaries Found outside the village boundaries, in woods, near water, or in uncultivated places
Life (healing) Death (illness)

Liminal period of RusaliiJocul călușarilor

Căluș - Dabuleni, Dolj, Romania

Fainting – Dabuleni (Dolj, Romania)

During the days of Rusalii the Călușari went from house to house performing a suite of Căluș dances in each courtyard (liminal places between street and house). In south Muntenia dramatic plays similar to mummers plays were also performed. Parents also invited the Călușari to dance with their children in their arms as this was considered to bring good luck and good health. The performance finished with the onlookers joining with the Călușeri to dance Hora Călușului. In South West Oltenia and northern Bulgaria ritual healing (Vindecarea) took place when necessary. This commenced with the diagnosis by the vătaf, who had to be certain that this illness had been caused by the iele, hence could be cured using the powers of the Călușari. This was done by playing the tunes for the Căluș dances to see if the sick person reacted. If he did, then the cure could take place. The ritual cure was performed by the Călușari danced round and over the patient, in silence. Once the healing was successful the patient was lifted up by two Călușari. In some cases a ritual enactment of death and resurrection took place. One of the călușari would fall to the ground in a trance (doborâre), at the exact moment of the healing, symbolically taking on the illness.

Role of mut

Comasca, Giurgiu, Romania

Comasca (Giurgiu, Romania)

In Muntenia the Călușari are accompanied by a transvestite figure called the Mut (mute). This character plays a comic role. He wears an ugly mask, dresses in a mixture of men’s and women’s clothes and carries a red wooden phallus, which he used to revive ‘dead’ Călușari. He is not allowed to speak during the period of Rusalii, but communicates via comic mime, humorously poking fun at any Călușari who dares to make a mistake in his dancing. His role as of ‘anti-vătaf’ plays out symbolic reversals of accepted norms of behaviour, and contains a complex interchanging of identities.

Post liminal stage

The burial of flag (Ingroparea Steagului) & breaking up of Căluş (dezlegarea căluşului)

On the final day of Rusalii the flag was ceremonially taken down and buried ready for the next year at the place where the oath had been taken. This ceremony was a reversal of the initiation ceremony and signalled that the Călușari were released from their oath. At the end of the ceremony the Călușari ran away without looking back. They re-entered the village and greeted each other as if they had not met for a long time.

Extracts from the essay: “Mellish, Liz (2006). The Romanian Căluș tradition and its changing symbolism as it travels from the village to the global platform

Published on 23rd July 2020, last modified on 1st May 2023

Călușeri as national emblem post-1851

Călușeri, as a group men’s dance for special occasions, was practiced by Romanians in villages in Transylvania in the 19th century, and we can only presume this practice goes further back in history.

The development of Călușeri dancing took a parallel path from 1850 which led to a “national” identity portrayed through dance performances. This may well have re-enthused local variants of the old Călușeri in villages where the practice was declining or in the latent repertoire.

This page is only to give a hint of Călușeri as a national symbol and popular performance in the late 19th century and early 20th century through newspaper and journal reports.

The choreographed dance for the ballroom

In 1851 Transylvanian intellectuals, Iacob Mureșianu (composer) and Ștefan Emilian (professor), from Brașov presented a choreography of the Călușeri dance, Romana [2]. During the late 19th century Romana and Bătuta were performed in the ballrooms of the city elite as a performance item either within the programme, or before social dancing commenced. This was very often as a sign of Romanian national identity, that became a virtuoso dance in the spiritual life of Romanians [1].

Romana was a Romanian national dance added to the ballroom salon dances which typically included polka, waltz and the French quadrille [2]. By the early 20th century, some 50 years after being choreographed, the enthusiasm for Romana had faded [3].

At local events

References including the word Călușeri in journals (revista) date from the 1880s. The dance names are always Călușerul and Bătuta, the original name of Romana for the dance created by Iacob Mureșianu being replaced by Călușerul by 1866 to the dislike of Emilan Ștefan.

The earliest reference we have found is in a church paper dated 1883 published in Arad regarding a concert of mainly classical works on 10 November 1882, but at the very end of the programme Călușeri are listed on the programme [4]. An event in the comuna of Seliște (on the way to Sibiu) in 1898 included five youths dancing Călușerul and Bătuta. The list of dancers gives their professions as local trade’s people [5]. In 1895, the Saint Vasile (New Year ’s Eve) celebrations in Caransebeș included students dressed in Romanian costume who danced Călușerul and Bătuta [6]. In 1899 two Banat villages (un-named) are mentioned with troupes of youth Călușeri connected to the local church [5]. 1904 in Brașov-Șcheiu, ten Călușeri dance “our beautiful national dances Călușerul and Bătuta” followed by hora mare [7]. In 1900 during a popular festival in the village of Șoimuș, Bistrița region, the formal concert was followed by popular dances of the salon and Călușeri dancers from the village of Ragla [10].

Clothing businesses

From 1897 the clothing shop in Orăștie was advertising for sale, “Haine de Călușeri” [5]and in Brașov in 1910 a leather seller advertised opinci for Călușeri [8].

Orăștie in Hunedoara region

Hunedoara region is still the region with the most older style village Călușeri teams, but their performances were not limited to the traditional winter custom complex, there is evidence that they also often provided performances at local events.

The 1897 Rusali celebrations in Orăștie on Monday after the church service included Călușeri dancers dancing Călușerul and Bătuta during the Nedeia (traditional saint’s day fair)  [9]. The 1898 Rusali celebrations in Hațeg included Călușeri after the formal programme [5]. In Orăștie, the 1903 Christmas party at a hotel included the Călușeri dancing with sticks and without sticks, in national costume with scarves, followed at midnight by Hățegana. Also at New Year the ball of the Călușeri took place in a different hotel [8].

Călușeri from Cerghid 1910

Călușeri from Cerghid 1910

In 1903 in Orăștie, a concert for national reunification during the two days of Easter, included 11 or 12 Călușeri, dancing during the intermission,in the same way as in Brașov, who presented the national dances bătuta, brâul alunel and Călușerul, wearing scarves and national belts (tri-colour) [8]. This concert is interesting as they mention “as the way in Brașov” which must be referring to the created salon dances, the inclusion of brâul alunel as a national dance, and the national statement of the “tri-colour” belt representing the Romanian flag.

Central Transylvania

The programme and photos from the 1910 men’s dance competition at Ibașfalău (now Dumbrăveni, previously Elisabetopole) in the Târnave region of central Transylvania shows that the traditional dances were still know by the dancers. The list of dances includes Călușerul, Jocul fecioresc, Țigăneasca, Joc de bâtă, Banul Mărăcină, Hodoroaga, Zrângăita and Restelu. The winning place was shared between Cerghidu Mare for an original dance and Mediaș for “artistic” dance [11].

"România Jună" society, Vienna 1899

“România Jună” society, Vienna 1899

Away from Transylvania

The 1899 exhibition of shoes in Bucharest included a performance of Călușeri by the Junii (traditional youth group) from Brașov [12]. In 1909 a group of Romanian solders danced Călușeri in Bosnia (near Knin in Croatia now) during the anniversary celebrations of the 1866 war with the Turks [11]. In 1910 the New Year party for the Romanian community in Vienna included Călușeri dance by the youth from the university [11].


The national symbol of the Călușeri and the tri-colour belt became part of the struggle by the Romanians against the Hungarian regime after Transylvania became incorporated into the Hungarian state.

In 1904 the two days of Easter celebrations included eight Călușeri from Batiz (Hunedoara), but there was conflict about wearing the tricolour belt on a costume with narrow closed sleeves that was deemed to be Hungarian and not the Călușeri costume [8]. In SânMiclăuşul Mare (now Sânnicolau Mare in Banat) a fund raising event in 1904 for the local Romanian church ended up with fines and the priest imprisoned [5].

The Călușeri from Vaidei arrived in Orăștie on election day in 1905, but the police stopped them and they had to put their flag under wraps [8]. In 1911, in Arad county, wearing the tricolour led to nine men from the Zeldișiu (now Iacobini) Călușeri to be fined and imprisoned for two days [5].

Published on 28th June 2020, last modified on 1st May 2023

The Bufeni and Oltenians of Banat

Bufeni is a nickname used for a group of Oltenians that moved to the Banat mountain region in the 18th century to work for the mining industry that was reinvigorated by the Austrians following their acquisition of the Banat region from the Ottoman empire.

Before this, during the 17th century, some 13,000 migrants came from Oltenia to work as woodcutters, charcoal burners and coal miners. By 1690 there were some 28 households of Oltenians living in the village of Sasca Română [1]. This period was a turbulent time with changes of authority between Ottoman, Austrian and Transylvanian rulers for much of the Banat mountain region.

In the 18th century some 15,000 families [1] joined the colonisation of the plain of Banat as agricultural workers [2] moving into the villages of: Bucovăț in 1723; the locality of Comloșu Mare which was founded in 1734 with families from the area of Craiova, Slatina and Polovracilor; from 1739 there were groups of both Muntenians and Oltenians in the village of Boldur (Nicolae Iorga [1]); and also in Satul Nou, Sân-Mihai [3] and Straja [4] villages which are now situated on the Serbian side of the border after the 1920 division of Banat.

The mountain areas of Banat have had mining for copper, silver and gold since ancient times plus supplies of coal and forest wood. Following the acquisition of Banat from the Ottoman Empire in 1716 the Austrian administration reinvigorated the ancient mining operations using workers from Oltenia. Additionally for just two decades (1718-1738) the mining at Majdanpek was also worked under Austrian rule by miners originating from Oltenia [5].

The origin of the name Bufeni is uncertain (Dex online), but some suggestion are:

  1. from the Germanic term buch (book) for the passport to cross the border that leads to bufean as the holder of a free pass book [1]
  2. from bufă (owl or night bird) due to restrictions on movement which only allowed the Oltenians to only travel from their villages at night [5]
  3. from bufă (owl or night bird) due to them working at night like forest owls to produce charcoal [6]

There was a clear distinction in terms, the older Romanian communities (such as Ciclova-Română) referred to themselves as frătuți (brothers) and to the new immigrants as bufeni such as at Ciclova Montană [7] or at Sasca Montană [6], or as bribeți[2] coming from the many sparrows that live around houses and were always hungry (Tăutu, 2010). The Bufeni called themselves țereni [1] which probably refers to peasants (tărani) but also refers to the country they have left, Țara Româneasca.

Many of the new villages were given the ending Montană when there was already a Romanian village ending in Romană, or if there was an older village then they were given the ending Nouă [8]. Others were named after the occupation of the villagers [8] such as Știnăpari (in 1755) and Cărbunari (in 1785) [1].

In 1849 miners referring to themselves as Bufeni from Moldova Nouă moved south and restarted the mining at Majdanpek which was by then part of Serbia [5].

For a period Oltenian dress, language and customs continued [4] [6], but a century later there is little to be seen differentiating old Bufeni villages and the Banat villages in terms of local dance and music.

The origin of the migrants can only be assumed from the family names that reflect place names in Oltenia, each reference gives slightly different lists, which have some ambiguities where there are several places with the same name in Oltenia.

Published on 30th May 2020, last modified on 15th April 2023

Banat Bulgarian minority

During the times of the Ottoman occupation, in the 17th to 18th centuries, there were a number of relocations of Bulgarians (both Catholic and Orthodox) to regions north of the Danube. Some relocated further west into the then Hapsburg Banat region, and some subsequently relocated again to modern Bulgaria.

During the following centuries the Bulgarians living in a few villages in Romanian and Serbian Banat have maintained their Bulgarian identity whilst those that returned to northern Bulgaria took with them elements of their specific Banat-Bulgarian identity in their costumes, customs, music and dance.

There are two locations of origin, two time periods and two histories of the Banat Bulgarians: the Catholics from the town of Chiprovitsi in north western Bulgaria, and the Catholics (previously Paulician/Pavlikeni) from the villages of north central Bulgaria, although these two histories have become intertwined.

Chiprovtsi Bulgarian Catholics

Singers from Asenovo 2006

Asenovo men’s costume 1991

The area around Chiprovtsi (Chiprovtsi and the villages of Kopilovtsi, Zhelezna, Klisura and Kutlovitsa [1]) has been an ore mining region since antiquity. In the early 14th century Saxon miners arrived in the town and were granted special privileges. The miners adopted the Bulgarian language, but continued their Catholic religion. The town and some surrounding villages became a centre for trade with connections into the wider trading networks of the west Balkans and a centre for the Catholic faith (see also the local Chiprovtsi museum).[2]

Following problems with their privileges during Ottoman times there was an unsuccessful uprising in 1688 against the Ottoman rulers. After the destruction of their town some 2000 Catholics moved across the Danube into southern Romania. They initially settled in Oltenia around the cities of Craiova, Râmnicu Vâlcea and Brădiceni with their rights endorsed by Constantin Brâncoveanu the Prince of Wallachia.[2]

Asenov folklore group in 1986

From 1690 some moved to south-western Transylvania (Vințu de Jos and Deva[2]) receiving privileges such as civil rights and tax exemption from the Habsburg authorities. Vințu de Jos was a prominent town based on the salt trade dating back to before medieval times. The town and surroundings have a long history of multi-ethnic and multi-religious composition as various changes in ownership and waves of people arrived. In 1711 the Bulgarians formed a Bulgarian community and in 1726 a Franciscan monastery was built in Vințu de Jos. Subsequently many of the around 500 families of Bulgarians moved on to Sibiu, Deva and Banat (predominantly the village of Vinga) that was resettled by around 125 families of Bulgarians originating from Chiprovitsi in 1741.[3] A Franciscan monastery was also built in Vinga that is currently the mayor’s office.

Catholic “Paulicians” from north Bulgaria

Dudeștii Vechi dance group in 2010

There were a number of Paulician villages (a Christian sect dating from the 7th century) in Bulgaria at the time of the start of the rule of the Ottoman Empire in 15th century. Some locations converted to Catholicism in the early 17th century, some people later converted to the Muslim faith.

Nicola Stanislavich, based at Craiova and the Catholic bishop of Nikopol, organised the passage of Catholics (around 300 families) between 1726 and 1730 from locations in northern Bulgaria to Oltenia (which was at that time under Habsburg rule), until the Ottoman rule blocked further passage.[4] In Ramnic (Râmnicu Vâlcea) these Bulgarian “Paulician” arrivals built a new church, but following the Hapsburgs withdrawal from Oltenia in 1737 this was destroyed by an Ottoman invasion in 1738. Subsequently in 1741 a number of Bulgarian “Paulician” moved westwards from Râmnicu Vâlcea into villages on the Banat Plain within the Habsburg Empire including Stár Bišnov (Dudeştii Vechi) in 1738 and Theresiopolis (Vinga).[5]

Dudeștii Vechi dance group in 2018

In the 19th century some of these Bulgarians also moved into other villages and towns in the Banat region and south of the Danube into Vojvodina.

The village of Cioplea (near Bucharest) was founded in 1812 under Russian protection and the bishop of Nikopol arranged for Bulgarian “Paulician” from northern Bulgaria to move there during the Russian-Ottoman war.[6] In 1828, also during the Russian-Ottoman war, he negotiated in Bucharest for about 20 to 30 Catholic families from Beleni, Orash, and Tranchovitsa in northern Bulgaria to cross the Danube who founded the commune of Popesti Leordeni (near Bucharest).[7]

After Bulgaria was liberated from the Turks in 1878 many of the Bulgarians living in the Banat region decided to return to north Bulgaria. They settled in the area around Pleven and Vratsa.

Main villages of Banat Bulgarians

Dating from the early 18th century there are a number of villages in the Banat region (at that time part of the Hapsburg Empire but now divided between Romania and Serbia) where these two groups of Bulgarian relocated. From the late 19th century there are a number of villages in central northern Bulgaria that were repopulated by some of the Chiprovitsi and Paulican Bulgarians following the Ottoman defeat.

Now in Romania
Dudeștii Vechi -Stár Bišnov (formerly Beșenova Veche) 1738 The comuna of Dudeștii Vechi comprises three villages: Dudeștii-Vechi, Cheglevici and Colonia Bulgară. The village of Cheglevic was first mentioned in documents dating from around 1000, and by 1238 this area belonged to the citadel of Cenad. Dudeștii-Vechi (Stár Bišnov) was founded in 1738 and was inhabited by 3,200 Bulgarians. Dudeștii Vechi is the modern cultural centre of the Banat Bulgarians.
Vinga (formally Theresiopolis) 1741 The village of Vinga was first recorded in 1231. It was destroyed by the Turks around 1737 and was subsequently resettled by around 125 families of Bulgarians from Chiprovitsi in 1741. Vinga was given the status of town on 1st August 1744. After the First World War many of the Bulgarian families moved to the towns of Arad or Timișoara, and since the Second World War there has been more migration to the nearby towns, while others emigrated to the US so subsequently Vinga lost its town status.
Colonia Bulgară (formaly Telepa) 1845 Colonia Bulgară was first settled in 1845.
Sânnicolau Mare – Smikluš Sânnicolau Mare became an administrative area in 1724, and was settled by Germans (Swabians), Banat Bulgarians, and Hungarians.
Breștea – Bréšca 1842 The village of Brestea was founded in 1842. It was inhabited by around 110 families of Bulgarians, who moved from the village of Dudești Vechi. Many returned to Bulgaria in the 1880s to found the village of Bardanski Geren in northern Bulgaria.
Denta – Denta 1842 The Ottomans withdrew from Denta in 1716, and the village came under the Austro-Hungarians. The first German (Swabian) colonists arrived in 1720, and the Banat Bulgarians in 1842.
Now in Serbia
Ivanovo 1867 Ivanovo was first settled by Banat Bulgarians (Paulicians), and fifteen years later by Germans and Hungarians (Székelys of Bukovina).[3]
Konak (Kanak) 1820 No trace of Bulgarians nowadays
Jaša Tomić – Modoš 1779 Very few Bulgarians
Skorenovac (Gjurgevo) 1866 The majority of the original settlers were Székely Hungarians from Bucovina, but also some German families from Plandište and Pločice and Bulgarian families from Dudeştii Vechi.
Belo Blato 1883 Belo Blato was settled in 1883 by Slovak people from the village of Padina (in south Banat). Later Hungarian and Bulgarian settlers arrived in Belo Blato.
Stari Lec 1820
Banatski Dvor 1842

Banat Bulgarians in Bulgaria

Pleven region
Asenovo, Nikopol district 1892 The village of Asenovo (Nikopol district, Pleven region) was founded in 1892. It was settled by 203 households of Bulgarians who moved back to Bulgaria manly from the Banat village of Vinga, but also some from Dudești Vechi, Konak and Breștea. The houses they built were in the style typical of the Banat Plain (Guide-Bulgaria, 2006).
Dragomirovo, Svishtov Municipality 1878 The village of Dragomirovo (Svishtov Municipality) was founded in 1878. It was settled by 141 households of Catholoic Bulgarians from the village of Dudeștii Vechi and one from Breștea. They were joined by a further group of Catholic Bulgarians known as “Bucharesters” who moved from the villages of Cioplea and Popești-Leordeni close to Bucharest. The village was divided into three sectors called the “Banatian”, the “Bucharestian” (both Catholic) and the “Vlach” (Orthodox).
Dolna Mitropolia Municipality
1889 In the village of Gostilya (Dolna Mitropolia Municipality, Pleven district) 133 families were joined by several families of Banat Swabians
Dolna Mitropolia Municipality
1889 83 families settled in Bregare (Dolna Mitropolia Municipality, Pleven district)
Vratsa region
Bardarski Geran, Byala Slatina muncipality 1887 The village of Bardarski Geran (municipality of Byala Slatina, Vratsa region) was founded in 1887. It was settled by 185 families who moved from the Banat village of Dudești Vechi. They were joined in 1893 by 7 families of Banat Swabians, then later by 83 more Swabian families.The Swabians left in the 1940s and their church was deserted (Bozhinov, 2018).
Voyvodovo, Mizia district 1900 The village of Voyvodovo (Mizia district, Vratsa region) was founded in 1900. It was settled by a mix of Banat Bulgarians, Banat Swabians, Slovaks and Evangelical Czechs. Following the First World War conditions in Bulgaria led to some of these people returning to Banat.
Published on 1st May 2020, last modified on 15th April 2023

Our rational for depiction of ethnographic zones

There are a few basic concepts behind our depiction of ethnographic zones based around our interest in traditional or folk cultures, not nation and national history.

  1. Music and dance in the community can change with fashions, however customs change less rapidly. So we are interested in the present and the not so distant past situations.
  2. We examine from the present into the past through an anthropological lens rather than tracing history from the past to the present.
  3. In the present time frame we are interested in the concept of ethnographic zones as some type of geographically bounded community and its relationships and communications with surrounding communities.
  4. We show the extent of ethnographic zones as the geographic area where the community actually lives nowadays rather than a historic or political boundary.
  5. Where a geographic zone has two partially ethnic population distributions we have overlapping zones for each ethnicity and do not show the “greater” zone.
  6. For place names we (mostly) follow standard academic practice of the current place name in the current country (the alternative ethnic name in brackets), but this can become troublesome, for example where an area is/was monoethnic with long standing place naming that has been changed by recent politics. Eventually alternative naming functionality will be added to the map code.
  7. We are only interested in “nation” where this influences the local traditions. Our use of ethnicities (Romanian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Hungarian etc.) does not indicate a “nationality” with respect to a modern nation state construction, it is a statement of the community’s (past) mother tongue or ascribed identity.
  8. We do not see any credibility in the concept of relating current local folk traditions to a past national ‘empire’ and hence to the modern ‘nation state’. Previously this was part of the construction of many ‘nation states’ following independence from the Ottoman empire. Such myths are still propagating even though international academia has largely dismissed any such perspectives.
Published on 1st May 2020, last modified on 15th April 2023