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 and by Marcu. 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.
These dances fall into Anca Giurchescu’s “Ardeleana” category, 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. 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 and Giurchescu. 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 Timiș region||Pe loc or Pe picioare||Larga||De întorsu|
|Bartók Torontal||Pe loc or Pe sarite or De doi||Rara or Ardeleana||De întorsu or De sucite|
|Marcu||Soroc||selected from: Duba, Bradu, Desca, Lența, Judecata||Hora|
|Marcu location Cornești||Hora||Legănata||Sucita|
|Giurchescu||Soroc||întoarsa||Pre loc (De doi)|
|Ilie and Radu Vincu (Electrecord – ST-EPE 01685)||Soroc||întoarsa||Pe loc|
|Suvergel locations Jebel, Pădureni, Sânmihai and Utvin||Hora mare||Pă trii pași||Pră loc|
|Suvergel second variant||Hora mare (excluded in Mureș zone)||Soroc (men then couples)||Pră loc and Întoarsa|
Pe loc or Pre loc or Pă loc
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. Bartók 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.
Bartók made recordings in 13 locations between 1912–1913, the tempo range between 126–160 beats per minute. Tiberiu Brediceanu documented Pe loc melodies mainly in the Caraș valley (Oravița region) between 1921-1923. Nicolae Lighezan published Pe loc melodies from the Caraș valley in the 1950s. This dance is not described in Marcu’s 1960s books, however is still taught in dance classes as the dance following Soroc in the typical dance cycle. There are also music notations from this period (1960s to 1980s)  . The geographic distribution of this dance appears to include most of the Romanian populated areas of the Banat plain and Caraș valley region.
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It is difficult to be certain if the associated dance in the Caraș valley is the couple dance or the men’s dance. Pră loc is also a men’s dance in Caraș valley, interestingly progressing to the left, but also has a step pattern closely related to the couple dance step pattern.
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).
|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|
|Ilie și Radu Vincu||Sânnicolaul Mare, Comloșul Mare, Satchinez, Jebel|
|Arad Philharmonic Orchestra||Seiga|
Marian Suvergel notates three examples of melodies under the title Pră loc. He 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). He 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.
Pe picior, Pre picior or Pe picioare
The earliest documentation I can find is from an event in 1894 in Arad where Pre picior follows Hora and Ardeleana. Bartók noted this dance for couples between 1912 and 1913, not in a group formation, using the hold man’s hands on hips, women’s hands on partner’s shoulders whereas Marcu in the 1960s describes Pe picior (Satchinez) as couples in column formation.
The step patterns described by Marcu (Pe picior Satchinez) and Nistor (Pe-un picior Șeitin, P-on picior Cuvin) have a “weight change” step pattern (1101 in “Leibman” notation) the same as the local Hora and De doi. The form of the dance figures described by Nistor is very similar to the De doi of the Banat hills and mountain regions.
Bartók recorded melodies with a tempo range of 136–160 beats per minute in seven locations in Banat, that were only in the northern Timiș and Arad region regions. The location distribution of the published and recorded examples is along the Mureș valley, the Făget region and some scattered villages in the northern part of Timiș county.
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South of the Mureș valley region the notations are in binary 2/4 meter; in the Banat plain, in the Făget region and Valea Carașului region. There is a recording on the state record label (Electrecord) by Efta Botoca (ST-EPE 03783).Bartók notated the melodies in asymmetric rhythm in the locations of Mănăștur (7/8 as 3+2+2) and Pârnești (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 and recordings along the Mureș. There are recordings on the state record label (Electrecord) by local musicians Ion Peptenar (ST-EPE 03653), ‘Rapsozii Zarandului’ (ST-EPE 03781). Rather confusingly Institutul de Folclor collection has Covăsinț (in 1930) notated in 2/4.
|Notations||Locations – binary rhythm||Locations – asymmetric rhythm|
|Bela Bartók||Ghilad, Cernadul Mare, Săvârșin, Mănăștur, Tolvadia (Livezile)||Mănăștur, Pârnești|
|Tiberiu Brediceanu||Bata, Belotinț, Birchiș, Chelmac, Jupani, Lipova|
|Achim Penda||Românești, Dubești, Pădurani, Ciclova, Naidăș||Sâmbăteni|
|Ioan Florea||Semlac||Sâmbăteni, Pârnești, Covăsinț, Felnac, Roşia Nouă, Cuvin|
|Viorel Nistor||Șeitin, Cuvin|
|Recordings||Locations – binary rhythm||Locations – asymmetric rhythm|
|Ion Peptenar||Bazosul Vechi|
|Rapsozii Zarandului||Semlac, Mândruloc|
Bartók 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 it appears that Bartók describes the couples dancing not in a formation whereas Marcu notates this as a column dance.
Most often this dance is final dance of 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 and Pe picior), and is the turning dance equivalent of Învârtita or Mănunțel from north of the Mureș. Marcu  describes the dance as having figure A – slow side-steps turning a half turn with partner, and figure B – walking while turning partner. Suvergel analysis the melodies from four locations.
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|Bela Bartók||Murani, Seceani, Mănăștur, Cornești|
|Tiberiu Brediceanu||Bata, Vinga, Lipova, Cuveșdia, Comloșu Mare|
|Ionel Marcu||Hodoni, Sânmihaiu Român, Timișoara, Utvin|
|Marian Suvergel||Pișhchia, Satchinez, Beregsău|
|Ilie și Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685)||Sânnicolau Mare, Comloșu Mare|
|Rapsozii Zarandului (ST-EPE 03090, ST-EPE 03781)||Semlac, Firiteaz|
Syncopated rhythm couple dances – Soroc and others
The concept of “syncopated” steps (2+1+2+1+2) is key to the men’s dances and couple dances in the arc Maramureș – Oaș – Bihor – Arad – Timiș.
In Bihor the syncopated couple dance has music in straight 2/4, but danced 2+1+2+1+2 across two measures. In the south of Arad and north of Timiș the music sometimes takes on a slightly 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 true for the Învârtita (turning dance).
Munteanu suggests the asymmetry came with a Transylvanian population familiar with this rhythm, particularly in the localities close to urban industrial areas (Firiteaz, Seceani, Alioș, Mașloc, Sânmihai, Utvin etc.).
The “syncopated” dance in the Banat area appears currently to have several layers of previous dances now incorporated as figures and themes under a general title of Soroc.
- Soroc men’s dance specific to the Timiș–Arad zone
- couple dances such as De mâna and Budaica from the Timiș–Arad repertoire
- a widely distributed couple turning dance which in rhythm and form is very similar to the southern Transylvanian Învârtita and known as either Ardeleana (not related to the so called “Ardeleana” category) or Soroc in Banat
Soroc is both, a dance for men related to the Fecioresc , and later additionally a couple dance[red id=”21″]. Nistor comments that the men’s “Sorocul is a dance of virtuosity, with almost acrobatic movements, jumps, flexions, knocks on the ground, jumps on the heel” .
As Giurchescu notes, in “Ardeleana” type dances “it [was] currently the practice for the man to separate from the woman and dance his part alone”. There are various formation options for the couple dance Soroc. Bartók notes just one melody (melody 250b) 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. 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.
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Soroc (in this form) is a dance specific to the Banat plain, particularly the communities of Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloș , and in Arad in the localities Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni .
Marcu  notates the dance with syncopation in 2/4 meter, 2+1+2+1+2 across two measures. Musically Soroc is notated in 2/4 meter; Bartók at Jadani (Cornești) , and by Florea in Arad county  and by Vancu in Sâmbăteni , although published recordings often have a slight asymmetry lengthening 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 . This accent on the 5th count is very evident in the men’s dance steps and some recordings (see for example recordings by Ilie and Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 03223, ST-EPE 01685).
|Ionel Marcu||Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloșu|
|Ionel Florea||Covăsinț, Sâmbăteni, Drauț, Cuvin, Cicir, Felnac, Zăbrani|
|Viorel Nistor||Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni|
|Marian Suvergel||Beregsău, Comloșu, Dudeștii Vechi|
|Ilie și Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685, ST-EPE 03223)||Satchinez, Felnac|
|Banatul (ST-EPE 01263)||Satchinez, Comloșu Mic|
2. De mâna and Budaica
These two dances appear to be closely linked with Soroc. All notations and recordings are in binary 2/4, but danced syncopated. Marcu describes Budaica as part of the cycle of dances known as Soroc.
Marcu 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 dance group) 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 with a similar structure to the Arad plain dances De mână, Lunga and Ardeleana bătrânească.
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There are no notations in Bartók’s collection (1912–1913). Melodies for both De Mână and Budaica are notated from Sânnicolau Mare by Tiberiu Brediceanu (1921–1923) and Sava Ilici , and from Nerău by Tiberiu Bredicean. De mână is also notated from Ovcea in Serbia  but this village near Belgrade was only repopulated with Romanian shepherds after 1815. Recordings of De mână melodies are by Banatul ensemble (ST-EPE 01263) from Sânnicolau Mare, and by Ilie and Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685) from Variaș.
3. Sorocul or Ardeleana
The most common couple dance seen in staged choreography and occasionally danced by the older generation at events appears almost identical to the southern Transylvanian Învârtita – with syncopated resting steps followed by turning as a couple, and music that is clearly in asymmetric rhythm.
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, it is clearly asymmetric (see the transcriptions by Suvergel ) 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.
3b. Ardeleana pe trei pași
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. This music is 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, but in Timiș around Timișoara it takes the place of Soroc, with steps that look to be a local adaption from the normal binary rhythm Ardeleana.
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