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.

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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.

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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


  1. Giurchescu, Anca & Bloland, Sunni (1995). Romanian traditional dance: A contextual and structural approach. Mill Valley, California: Wild Flower Press.
  2. Bartók, Béla (1967). Rumanian folk music. Volume 1: Instrumental melodies. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
  3. Brediceanu, Tiberiu (2014). Jocuri populare românești pentru pian. Bănică, Matei (ed.) București: Grafoart.
  4. Suvergel, Marian I (2018). Jocurile populare românești din zona de câmpie a banatului. doctoral thesis, Universitatea naţională de arte "George Enescu" din Iaşi. Universitatea naţională de arte "George Enescu" din Iaşi, Şcoala doctorală Muzică.
  5. Clanița, Deian (2017). O viața, ce suflet pentru joc și cântec. Timișoara: Editura de vest.
  6. Brediceanu, Tiberiu (1972). Melodii populare Romanesti din Banat. Bucharest: Editura muzicala a uniunii compozitorilor.
  7. Lighezan, Nicolae (1959). Folclor muzical Banatean. Bucharest: Muzicala a uniunii compozitorilor.
  8. Penda, Achim (1974). Melodii de Jocuri din Banat Timisoara: Centru de indrumare a creației populare județul Timiș.
  9. Ursu, Nicolae (1983) Folclor muzical din Banat se Transylvania. Bucureşti: Editura Muzicala.
  10. Georgescu, Corneliu Dan (1984). Jocul popular Românesc: tipologie muzicale. Bucureşti: Editura Muzicale.
  11. Lațcu, Afilon & Muntean, Ioan (1974). Folclor coreografic din Almăj și Caraș. Reșița: Comitetul pentru Cultură și Educatie Socialistă al Judetului Caraș-Severin.
  12. Marcu, Ionel, Cărăuș, Mara & Ilici, Sava L (1964). Dansuri populare din Banat. Timişoara: Casa Regională a Creaţii Popular.
Published on 25th April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023