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. 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

Pe loc or Pre loc or Pă loc

Orchestra ansamblului Timișul din Timișoara – Pe 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[5]. Bartók[1] 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[6] documented Pe loc melodies mainly in the Caraș valley (Oravița region) between 1921-1923. Nicolae Lighezan[7] 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)[7] [8] [9]. 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[11] 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).

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

Marian Suvergel[4] 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

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[12]. Bartók[1] 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[2].

The step patterns described by Marcu (Pe picior Satchinez[2]) and Nistor (Pe-un picior Șeitin[1], P-on picior Cuvin[14]) 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[13] is very similar to the De doi of the Banat hills and mountain regions.

Bartók[1] 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[1], in the Făget region[15] and Valea Carașului region[8]. 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[13][14][16]. 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[17] 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
Ionel Marcu Satchinez
Sava Ilici Făget
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
Efta Botica Unip


Ilie şi Radu Vincu – Întoarsa

Bartók[1] 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[18] 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[4]. Marcu [18] 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[4].

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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

Syncopated rhythm couple dances – Soroc and others

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 [3]

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).

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.[3]

Giurchescu and Bloland [3]

Munteanu[19] 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.

  1. Soroc men’s dance specific to the Timiș–Arad zone
  2. couple dances such as De mâna and Budaica from the Timiș–Arad repertoire
  3. 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

1. Sorocul

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 [3]

Soroc is both, a dance for men related to the Fecioresc [20], 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” [21].

As Giurchescu[3] 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)[1] 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.[18]

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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 [3]

Soroc (in this form) is a dance specific to the Banat plain, particularly the communities of Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloș [18], and in Arad in the localities Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni [21].

Marcu [18] 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) [1], and by Florea in Arad county [1] and by Vancu in Sâmbăteni [10], 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 [3]. 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).

Notations Locations
Bela Bartók[1] Cornești
Tiberiu Brediceanu[6] Comloșu
Ionel Marcu[18] Seceani, Sâmbăteni, Satchinez, Utvin, Pesac, Igriș, Comloșu
Ionel Florea[16] Covăsinț, Sâmbăteni, Drauț, Cuvin, Cicir, Felnac, Zăbrani
Viorel Nistor[20] Firiteaz, Fiscut, Secusigiu, Felnac, Mândruloc and Sâmbăteni
Marian Suvergel[4] Beregsău, Comloșu, Dudeștii Vechi
Notations Locations
Ilie și Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685, ST-EPE 03223) Satchinez, Felnac
Banatul (ST-EPE 01263) Satchinez, Comloșu Mic

2. 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[18] describes Budaica as part of the cycle of dances known as Soroc.

Marcu[2] 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[21] with a similar structure to the Arad plain dances De mână, Lunga and Ardeleana bătrânească.

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This dance [Budaica] is part of the cycle of frequent dances in the lowland region of Banat called “Soroc”. In hold and execution, it resembles the “Walk” (plimbare) from Soroc or Transylvanian “De-a lungul”. The range of this dance has Sânnicolau and Satchinez as its centres. It is an archaic dance preserved until today. Young dancers have simplified it a lot. In the old form, the dance is played by the elderly, who keep intact the specifics of execution in syncope and counter-time, as can be seen at the festive events in which they participate. (Marcu et al., 1964a:12)

Marcu et al. [18]

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)[6] and Sava Ilici [15], and from Nerău by Tiberiu Bredicean[6]. 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 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

DORU ȚĂRANU & ADI SCOROBETE – Sorocuri din pusta Banatului

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 [4]) 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[4]. 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[4], 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.


  1. Bartók, Béla (1967). Rumanian folk music. Volume 1: Instrumental melodies. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
  2. Marcu, Ionel, Cărăuș, Mara & Ilici, Sava L (1964). Dansuri populare din județul Timiș. Timișoara: Comitetul de Cultura și Educăție Socialista al judetului Timiș, Centrul de Ȋndrumare a creație populare și amișcării artisce de masă.
  3. Giurchescu, Anca & Bloland, Sunni (1995). Romanian traditional dance: A contextual and structural approach. Mill Valley, California: Wild Flower Press.
  4. Suvergel, Marian I (2018). Jocurile populare românești din zona de câmpie a banatului (doctoral thesis). Universitatea naţională de arte "George Enescu" din Iaşi.
  5. Brediceanu, Tiberiu (2014). Jocuri populare românești pentru pian. București: Grafoart.
  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 creatiei populare judetul Timiș.
  9. Ursu, Nicolae (1983). Folclor muzical din Banat se Transylvania. București: Editura Muzicala.
  10. Georgescu, Corneliu Dan (1984). Jocul popular Românesc: tipologie muzicale. București: 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. Ursulescu, Moise (1894). Sfinţirea şeolei române ortodoxe din Ecica-română - 16 August v. 1894. Biserica si scol’a. Foia bisericesca, scolastica, literaria si economica. Arad: Episcopiei Aradului.
  13. Costea, Ştefan, Costea, Dumitru d. & Nistor, Viorel (1998). Şeitin - O aşezare milenară românească de pe Mureşul Inferior. Arad: Editura Mirador.
  14. Nistor, Viorel (1991). Folclore coregrafic Vol 2. Bucharest: Editura muzicala a uniunii compozitorilor si muzicologilor.
  15. Ilici, Sava L (1964). Melodii de jocuri din bănăţene. Timişoara: Casa regională a creaţiei populare Banat.
  16. Florea, Ioan T (1974). Folclor Muzical din Judeţul Arad - 500 melodii de joc. Arad: Centrul Creatiei Populare Arad.
  17. Institutul de Folclor (1955). 100 melodii de jocuri din Ardeal. Bucharest: Editura de stat pentru literatura se arta.
  18. Marcu, Ionel; Cărăuș, Mara; Ilici, Sava L (1964). Dansuri populare din Banat. Timișoara: Casa Regională a Creații Popular.
  19. Munteanu, Puiu (2017). Sorocul, dans emblematic al banatului de Câmpie. Laichici, Liliana (editor), Timisiensis: Revista Centrului de Cultură și Artă al Județului Timiș XXIV(1-2): pp.17-32. Timișoara: Editura Eurostampa.
  20. Costea, Constantin (1987). Jocurile feciorești transilvănene. Revista de Etnografie șşi Folclor 32(1): pp.40-48.
  21. Nistor, Viorel (2020). Sorocul Bănățean. Monitorul Cultural - Lunar arădean de informație culturală, Septembrie 2020: pp.10-11. Arad: CJCA. Penda, Achim (1974) Melodii de Jocuri din Banat Timisoara, Centru de indrumare a creatiei populare judetul Timis.
  22. Jurjovan, Trandafir (1983). Folclor muzical Romanesc din Ovcea. Ovcea, Societatea Cultural-Artistică "Steaua".
Published on 25th November 2021, last modified on 26th November 2021