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 including men’s dances and couple dances that now are merged as figures and themes under a generic title of Soroc:
- Soroc men’s dance specific to the Timiș–Arad zone
- Soroc couple dance, in which the men might also dance figures from the men’s dance
- De mâna and Budaica couple dances from the Timiș–Arad repertoire that are choreologically similar and can be part of the Soroc cycle of dances.
- A widely distributed couple dance with a turning figure which in rhythm and form is very similar to the southern Transylvanian Învârtita and is known in Banat as either Ardeleana (not related to the so called “Ardeleana” category) or Soroc.
The concept of “syncopated” steps (2+1+2+1+2) is key to the men’s dances and couple dances in the arc of the regions Maramureș–Oaș–Bihor–Arad–Timiș. In Maramureș–Oaș–Bihor the syncopated dance has music in straight 2/4, but is danced in rhythm 2+1+2+1+2 across two measures. Marcu notates the dance with syncopation in 2/4 meter and musically Soroc is notated in 2/4 meter – Bartók at Jadani (Cornești) , by Florea in Arad county (Covăsinț, Sâmbăteni, Drauț, Cuvin, Cicir, Felnac, Zăbrani) and by Vancu in Sâmbăteni although published recordings often have a slight asymmetry that lengthens 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 in some recordings (see for example recordings by Ilie şi Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 03223, ST-EPE 01685).
However, in the south of Arad and north of Timiș counties the music sometimes takes on a 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 exists in the Transylvanian Învârtita (turning dance).
Munteanu suggests the asymmetry arrived with a Transylvanian population familiar with this rhythm, particularly in the localities close to urban industrial areas (Firiteaz, Seceani, Alioș, Mașloc, Sânmihai, Utvin etc.).
1. Sorocul as a men’s dance
Soroc as a men’s dance is related to the Fecioresc, Nistor comments that the men’s “Sorocul is a dance of virtuosity, with almost acrobatic movements, jumps, flexions, stamps on the ground, and jumps on the heel”.
Clanița gives notations of figures collected in 1983 from dancers born at the turn of the 20th century from villages of Murani, Fibiș, Alioș, Fiscuțt-Firiteaz, Seceani. He says the dance comprises a walking figure plimbare and the showing off figure called forme and can be performed both as a solo men’s dance or with a partner who holds the man’s right hand and dances behind him.
Although it was most likely originally a men’s group dance, as is often performed in choreographies, the dance appears to have become reduced to a men’s solo figures, with only the Bulgarian group at Vinga continuing a tradition of Sorocul as men’s group dance.
2. Soroc as a couple dance
There are various formation options for the couple dance Soroc. Bartók notes just one melody 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. 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.
The merging of the men’s figures and the couple dance are noted by Giurchescu who says that in “Ardeleana” type dances “it [was] currently the practice for the man to separate from the woman and dance his part alone”. Clanita gives the alternative formation as holding the hand of the partner who dances behind the man, and Nistor refers to Soroc (the men’s dance) that is later additionally a couple dance.
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|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|
3. 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 ensemble, Ghiroda) 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.
There are no notations in Bartók’s collection (1912–1913). Melodies for both De Mână and Budaica from Sânnicolau Mare are notated by Tiberiu Brediceanu (1921–1923) and Sava Ilici , and from Nerău by Tiberiu Brediceanu. 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 from Sânnicolau Mare are played Banatul ensemble (ST-EPE 01263) , and from Variaș by Ilie and Radu Vincu (ST-EPE 01685) .
3. Sorocul or Ardeleana
The most common couple dance seen in staged choreography, and occasionally danced by the older generation at events, appears to be very similar 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, the melody 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.
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 played in 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 county 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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