The name ‘Eliznik was based on an amalgamation of the authors’ names which they had previously used for dance teaching booklets and notes.
This website has two parts: the reference ‘fixed pages’ and the newer Blog. These are interlinked through the context dependent menus on the left sidebar, so posts will have links to related reference pages, and references pages will have links to posts.
This Blog is divided into three subject areas:
- Ethnography – our continued research and interest in the customs, music and dancing in the Balkans
- Academic – subjects from the perspective of academic study
- Photos – the latest uploads
The “Eliznik” web pages (www.eliznik.org.uk/), an English language website based in the UK covering Romanian music, dance, and costume, were first uploaded to the worldwide web in May 1999. Since that time the site has expanded to over 700 pages.
The main sources used were Anca Giurchescu and Sunni Bloland’s book on Romanian Traditional Dance, Tiberiu Alexandru’s Romanian Folk Music, and Petrescu and Secoșan’s ‘Romanian Folk Costume’.
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. 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 – “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.
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 …read more
“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, 1995). 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.
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.
Mândra or Mândrele is a dance from Oltenia region (southern Romania, predominantly Dolj county) and Vidin region (Bulgaria) in an asymmetric rhythm. Mândrameans the “proud” girl or beloved girl and Mândrele is the plural form, the proud ones or the beloved ones. In Romanian dance classification Mândrele is classified within the “Rustem” dance type.
This page of video examples complements our post on Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира) dance type in Romania and Bulgaria Hora: 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, 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). Băluța is a colloquial term for “blond”, such as for a white horse from “băl”. Shira is from Romanian “șir” meaning row, Shira is “rows” (plural). In the Vratsa region of Bulgaria this dance can also be titled Shala una (Шала уна).
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.
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.
Just for fun a couple of decades ago I took the archaeology maps from “History of Transylvania” 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 …read more
Hora is danced at community occasions in the three ethnographic zones of Banat – the Banat plain, Banat hills and mountains. 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 . The generic Hora from Banat, that is most commonly practiced at events, is documented by Ionel Marcu as Hora bănățeană . The dance name Hora (in Banat) refers to one dance pattern, but two styles of music; a slower more deliberate …read more
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 , 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 , and …read more
The extent of Kalushari (Călușari) in the more distant past is difficult to assess, although Marinov (late 19th century) documented traditions that took place during rusali in villages in many regions of Bulgaria. From accounts written in the late 19th and early 20th century, when living memories stretched back to the early 1800s it seems clear that Kalush in its ritual form that was practiced in villages in northern Bulgaria was similar to that in southern 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 …read more
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 …read more
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 . This period was a turbulent time with changes of authority between Ottoman, Austrian and Transylvanian rulers for much …read more
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 …read more
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. 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. We examine from the present into the past through an anthropological lens rather than tracing history from the past to the present. In the present time frame we are interested in the concept of ethnographic zones as some type of geographically bounded community and its …read more
The concept of ‘ethnographic zones’ can be argued academically to be flawed in many respects in terms of cultural parameters and the reality of geographical borders. However geographically based cultural zones remain a concept that insiders use to position music and dance in terms of people’s locational identity and locational dependent ideas in music and dance styles. Traditional ethnography When considering ethnography of rural ‘traditions’ and ‘customs’ it is common to document the location of the observation. In some cases a ‘tradition’, or a particular version of a folk artefact, is attributed to that location, but more often ethnographers look …read more
Asymmetric rhythm dances in Romania Asymmetric or uneven musical rhythms are rare in western classical music, and western rock and popular music, but are not so unusual across Europe in the older forms of traditional dances; the Springar and Polska of Scandinavia, Slovak songs and dances, Albanian dances, Slavic dances from Macedonia, Bulgaria is particularly well-known uneven rhythms, Anatolian dances of Greeks, Turks and Armenians, and Romanian dances and songs. Bulgarian uneven rhythms are formed from combinations of near exact two and three count beats, but wider European dance music is not so metronomic. Even melodies that are not technically …read more