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.


  1. Popescu-Județ, Gheorghe (1967) Jocuri Populare din Dobrogea. Casa Regionala.
  2. Cristian, Ion (1972) Pandelasul : Culegere de melodii de joc din Dobrogea.
  3. Cernea, Eugenia (1977) Melodii de joc din Dobrogea. Bucuresti: Editura muzicala.
  4. Georgiev, Galin [Георгиев, Галин] (2019) Групи българско население в Североизточна България и Добруджа. Sofia: Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Online at:
  5. Tsonev, Boris [Цонев, Борис] (1950) Български Народни Хора и Ръченици [Bulgarian traditional hora and rachenitsi]. 1. Sofia, State publishing house "Science and Art".
  6. Roman, Jora (2007) Folclor muzical-coregrafic Aromân și Meglenoromân. Constanța, Ex Ponto.
  7. Roman, Jora (2006) Folclor coreografic nord-dobrogean. Constanța, Ex Ponto.
Published on 10th December 2023