Tag Archives: Timoc dances

Dance: Mândra or Mândrele

Mândra or Mândrele is a dance from Oltenia region (southern Romania, predominantly Dolj county) and Vidin region (Bulgaria) in an asymmetric rhythm. I understand from local dance specialists that this dance was once more popular throughout Oltenia, but there are only three published dance notations[1][2][3] and a number of musical pieces. In Romanian dance classification Mândrele is classified within the “Rustem” dance type[4] due to the asymmetric rhythm of the steps.

Mândra means the “proud” girl or beloved girl and Mândrele is the plural form, the proud ones or the beloved ones.[4][5] Mândra, the beloved, is a very common word in songs texts. Mândrele is also associated with the female mythological beings typical of the Carpatho-Danubian region euphemistically named Iele (they), Mândrele (Beauties), or Vântoasele (Windy Ones).[4]

There is a related dance with a different choreology under the title Mândrele where the melody is in 6/8 but counted as 5 with count 5 being long (♪♪♪♪♩).[10] There are other dances with similar names, such as Mândrulița, a type of Învârtita (Ciofliceni – Ilfov, and Hințeşti – Argeș [6], Odăile – Buzău[7], Câmpulung – Muscel.[8]

2-3b Mandra – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995


The dance can by in the formation of either a semi-circle[2] or closed circle[3] with hands held at shoulder height. The dance is associated with girls, although Popescu-Județ mentions it can be danced by boys and girls in Băilești (Dolj), whilst Varone says in Vârvoru (Dolj) the girls hold each other by the little fingers.[5] The style of the dance can range from spacious and simple in Segarcea (Dolj), undulating and gliding in Băilești, or fast and jumpy in Hunia (Dolj).[2]


To compare the structure for the three documented versions I have used a basis of measures counted as “long-short” and the optional “hop” as an anacrusis (pickup beat) into the motif which follows the Romanian interpretation of Rustem.

The motifs are:

  • Travelling – long step across behind, short step to side and slightly forwards, most often the dancers are facing partially against the direction of travel so it appears they are moving backwards. The last beat is often a pause or low hop as a preparation for the next motif.
  • Single crossing step – for right foot start: step right in place, step left across in front, step right in place, optional low hop. This takes 2 measures.
  • Double crossing step – This takes 4 measures.
  • Step-hop or step-lift – Can be travelling prior to the “travelling step” or in place between “single crossing step”.
Location measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4 measure 5 measure 6 measure 7 measure 8
Vidin region Travelling Travelling Travelling Travelling Single crossing Single crossing
Băilești, Dolj[1] Step-hop Step-hop Travelling Travelling Travelling Travelling
Goicea, Dolj[2] Single crossing Step-lift Step-lift Double crossing
Moțăței, Dolj[3] Single crossing Single crossing Travelling Travelling Single crossing
Moțăței, Dolj[3] Single crossing Single crossing Step-hop Step-hop Single crossing

3-2g. Mandra – Vinarovo, Vidin – 1995

In the Vidin region (Bulgaria) there is a single dance choreology with only minor differences. The structure is travelling around the circle facing slightly backwards using asymmetric steps (“long-short” or “short-long” depending on your perspective) for four measures and a two single crossing steps performed in place. The pattern is repeated in the opposite direction.

In Dolj (Romania) the three notations give very different combinations of motifs suggesting the title reflects a predominantly girls dance of the Rustem type, but does not relate to a single popular “dance” choreology as it does in Bulgaria.

It is clear the Dolj (Romania) dances and Vidin (Bulgaria) are related as predominantly girls dance of the Rustem type. However there is a distinct difference in that the dance in the Vidin region relates to a single dance choreology, whereas in Dolj Mândrele is a title used for a dance from this family of dances.


“Fidankite” Vidin – 2022

The understanding of the rhythm is interpreted differently by various authors. The Romanian choreographers[2][3] and musicians[6] notate the music and dance in 3/8 which can be rhythmically “three equal beats” or “long-short” for a measure. This allows the measure to be three equal steps, or the short step as an anacrusis (pickup beat) into the strong long step, thus the count is “&, one &, two”, an interpretation in common with similar dances such as Rustem.

From a Bulgarian perspective[9] and as described by Giurchescu[4] the rhythm is 5/16 “short-long” as in the Paidusko type of dance, so the short beat is considered the first beat of the measure, very often just a low hop. However, this does not easily allow for a measure with three nearly equal beats in the steps or melody.

The music and dance from the older videos from the Vidin region dance groups are close to the Romanian Rustem whereas the more recent videos such as “Fidankite” group from Vidin (2022) sound and dance more like a Paidusko.

Mândrele – Constantin Chisăr

There are three recordings played as a Rustem[11], for example the recording by Constantin Chisar. However the best known recordings (Ion Lăceanu, Gheoghe Zamfir) are musically arranged and at a slow tempo (in 3/8 rhythm) played by professional orchestras from Bucharest. The version by Ion Lăceanu is the recording used for the recreational “folk dance” choreography Mândrele (de la Obârșia).[13]

My analysis of the rhythm using three Bulgarian examples and two Romanian examples suggests that the ratio of the rhythm is generally close to 5/16 with the “triplets” in the melody formed by dividing the long beat and a slight averaging across the measure, however the Romanian notations and professional orchestras appear to have “quantised” the rhythm to 3/8.

When considering the ‘single crossing’ motif, it looks like the start point of this motif is different in people’s minds. In Gamzovo village the dancers start the dance at the ‘step left across in front’ rather than the low hop suggesting this is the motif start in their minds, whereas Bregovo  village the dancers appear to dance with the “hop” being the dominant start.

From a Romanian Rustem perspective the dance rhythm is “long-short” and from a Bulgarian Paidusko perspective the dance rhythm is “short-long”. Some melodies can be written in either, and others appear to be in “long-short”, so my opinion is that the dance falls into the Rustem category.

Published on 3rd April 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Videos: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)

A selection of videos for our post on dance Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира) in Romania and Bulgaria Hora: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)


Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș – 1999

Băluța from Argeș region performed by Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș, choreographer Dorin Oancea.

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow 2 measure steps in place

Băluța la Badesti

Băluța from Bădești, Argeș county as danced now at weddings. The travelling step fast steps are often reduced to two foot touches in front. The travelling is only to the left. The interface figure is

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow Forward and back hora

Baluța – Desa, Dolj regions – 1968

This is a 1968 recording from Desa, Dolj county. Although this video is indexed as Crăițele and another in the library is indexed as Băluța, however it is clear this recording is in the same form as the local Băluța (similar to Stoicăești, Olt [1]).

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Băluța 4 fast + 2 slow, only to the left Double crossing step and two single crossing steps



15c. Shira – Kosovo, Vidin – 1995

Kosovo, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing

15q. Shira – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995

Negovanovtsi, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing

13c Sumer, Montana (Shira) – 1995

Sumer, Montana county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
  4 fast + 2 slow x3 continuous crossing steps

1g. Shira – Vrav, Vidin – 2010

Vrav, Vidin county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Shira 1 slow + 4 fast + 1slow x4 long crossing steps, repeated with opposite footwork

Shira, Mihaylovo village, Vratsa region – 2019

Mihailovo, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa or Chele une 4 fast + 2 slow x3 syncopated single crossing

Balutsa Балуца – Beli Izvor Бели извор, Vratsa region – 1991

Beli Izvor, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa 4 fast + 2 slow x3 single crossing performed with less crossing and more to side

Balutsa – Sofronievo village, Vratsa region – 2022

Sofronievo, Vratsa county

Travelling figure steps Interface figure steps
Balutsa 4 fast + 2 slow x3

extra figure of double crossing, single crossing and heel clicks in place

single crossing

Published on 31st March 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023

Dance: 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[1], 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).

The generic characteristic of these dances is that there are two parts, the first is a travelling part, progressing around the circle, that is formed from a repeated combination of 2 slow steps and 4 or 6 fast steps, and the second part is performed in place or moving side to side.

Many videos of this dance are on our page: Videos: Băluța (Балуца) and Shira (Шира)

In Romanian dance classification Băluța is generally classified within the “Rustem” dance type[2] due to the asymmetric rhythm of the steps. The notations for versions in Oltenia[3][4] are notated as 3/8 whereas the other versions are notated in 2/4 [1][5][6][7][8] however the dance steps in reality may still be performed in asymmetric rhythm.

15q. Shira – Negovanovtsi, Vidin – 1995

Băluța is a colloquial term for “blond”, such as for a white horse[2] from “băl” (old Slavic bala вѣлъ) +diminuative -uța.[9] Shira is from Romanian “șir” meaning row, Shira is “rows” (plural), Shirul is “the row”. Șir is from the Latin word “series”.[10]

In the Vratsa region of Bulgaria this dance can also be titled Shala una (Шала уна), for example from the repertoire of the dance groups from the villages of Ohrid, Portitovtsi and Asparuhovo and also under the title Chele une (Челе уне) by the group from Mihailovo (but announced as Balutsa at the Koprivshitsa festival in 2022). These names sound like derivations from the typical strigături for the first step of the figures. In simple form these are just și una! but can also have the extra syllable și-ii! una! [1], și-ii locu or și su-cu a.[11]

As is typical in Romania, there are different dance choreologies under the same title. There is another dance titled Băluța comprising of crossing step combinations and moving forwards and back in a line.[11]


Figure A1 Figure B1 Figure A2 Figure B2
Băluța and Shira Travelling figure Interface figure Travelling figure (in opposite direction) Interface figure

Ansamblul “Argeșul”, Curtea de Argeș – 1999

The generic characteristic of these dances is that there are two parts, the first is a travelling figure progressing around the circle and a second interface figure is performed in place or moving side to side. So between the travelling steps there are some steps in place (or just side-to-side or forward and back) before the travelling figure recommences.

Generally the dance repeats alternating between the right and left directions, however in Pădureți the direction only changes when a command is shouted[1] and in Urluieni the dance is only to the left.[12]

Travelling figure

The feature of the travelling figure is that it is formed from 2 walking steps and 4 or 6 fast steps, which are repeated a number of times, and can be performed either to the right or left.

There appears to be three variations of this travelling figure:

  1. Oltenia (Romania) a 24 measure phrase comprising repeats of 6 fast steps + 2 slow steps,
  2. Argeș (Romania) and a few other villages 1 slow step + 4 fast steps + 1 slow step,
  3. Bulgaria a pattern of 4 fast steps + 2 slow steps repeated 3 or 4 times.
Click for more details …
Travelling figure steps Locations
6 fast + 2 slow
Știubei, Căciulatu, Obârșia de Câmp – Dolj
Izvorul Rece – Vâlcea
1 slow + 4 fast + 1 slow
Lăpușata – Vâlcea
Pădureți – Argeș
Vrav – Vidin
Ohrid – Montana
4 fast + 2 slow
x4 Novo Selo – Vidin
x3 Antimovo, Florentin, Gamzovo, Kapitanovtsi, Kosovo, Kutovo, Negovanovtsi , Pokrayna, Rakovitsa – Vidin
Asparuhovo, Portitovtsi, Sumer – Montana
Beli Izvor, Manastirishte, Mihailovo, Sofronievo – Vratsa
x2.5 Gradets – Vidin
xN Stoicănești – Olt

The notations from Dolj[3][4] and Vâlcea[11] are based on a 6 counts travelling figure that is repeated five times and concludes with a shortened pattern to fit the musical phrase of 24 measures. The second part is 8 measures so the total dance is 32 measures concordant with the music[4], that is then repeated in the opposite direction.

In Argeș region the pattern is 4 counts “a slow step performed on the first measure and 5 faster steps on the other 3 measures”.[1] There is a difference between the Bulgarian (Vrav, Ohrid) and Romanian (Argeș) versions for the “1 slow step + 4 fast steps + 1 slow step”. In the Romanian case the first slow step is to the side and the first fast step is a large step across so the “&” is the fast side step, whereas in Bulgaria the slow first step is a large step across so the side step in on the count and the closing step is on the “&”.

In Bulgaria (and Stoicănești in Romania) the most common pattern is 4 fast steps + 2 slow steps, but this is repeated only 3 times typically in Bulgaria.


Generally in Romania the dance phrases remain concordant with the musical phrases, at least to the 4 measure phrases, but in all the Bulgarian versions (apart from in Vrav, Novo Selo and Rakovitsa) the travelling figure of the dance plus a single interface step causes an odd number of counts, thus the repeat to the left direction is on the opposite beat of the music compared to traveling to the right[13], so the first step is on count 1 to the right and count 2 to the left. The travelling figure is repeated three times, so 12 counts, followed by a single “interface” step making the sequence 13 counts.

In Vrav and Novo Selo the travelling figure is repeated 4 times (so 16 counts) and the in place figure follows directly. In Rakovitsa the melody is cut short so that the dance remains concordant to the music.

Interface figure

Click for more details …
Interface figure steps Locations
Single crossing Antimovo, Florentin, Kapitanovtsi, Kosovo, Kutovo, Negovanovtsi,
Pokrayna, Rakovitsa – Vidin
Asparuhovo – Montana
Beli Izvor, Manastirishte, Sofronievo – Vratsa
Izvorul Rece – Vâlcea
Stoicăești – Olt
Syncopated single crossing Mihailovo – Vratsa
Portitovtsi, Ohrid – Montana
Continuous crossing steps Gamzovo, Novo Selo, Vrav – Vidin
Sumer – Montana
Sofronievo – Vratsa
Bidirectional phrase Știubei, Căciulatu, Obârșia de Câmp – Dolj
Lăpușata – Vâlcea
Pădureți – Argeș
Gradets – Vidin

Generally this is a figure that is mostly in place, but can be a repeated motif that might travel a little in alternating directions, which is inserted between the travelling figures.

In Bulgaria the most common figure is “single crossing” (step in place, step across in front, step in place and a low hop, then repeated with the opposite foot). There is a syncopated version of this in the Montana and Vratsa regions which often coincides with the dance being known as Shala una. Another figure is continuous crossing steps (step in place, step across in front, step in place and repeat with opposite foot, and continue to end of the phrase).

In Romania the notated versions mainly have bidirectional phrases and not crossing steps. The common form at parties now tends to just have a forward and back Hora before the next travelling figure.



Shira, Kutovo, Vidin region – 2019

The dance can be in the formation of either open or closed circles, although a closed circle seems to predominate in Romania and an open circle in Bulgaria. The hands are held generally either at shoulder level (so called “W” hold) and/or in low hold (so called “V” hold), however in Bulgaria there are a few examples in belt hold (Beli Izvor – Vratsa, Kutovo – Vidin) and crossed hand-hold in front (Antimovo – Vidin).


Popescu-Județ[1] list regions where this dance was popular (presumably during the 1950s) as Vlașca, Argeş, Muscel, Vâlcea, Romanați and Dolj, however there are few references in the later collections of dances from these regions. So it appears that the popularity in Romania decreased quickly from the mid-20th century. The variability of choreology and regional versions in Romania suggests this dance had time to evolve and diverge in the local dancing prior to the mid-20th century.

Whereas in Bulgaria, most examples have a very similar choreology and structure, including the odd number of counts for the dance, suggesting the popular dance is more recently distributed from a single variant. This is also suggested by the border of Shira being at the current Bulgarian-Serbian border whereas the old strata fund of dances was practiced by the population either side of the border. The naming as Shira in the Vidin region is clearly localised and in Romanian (meaning the Latin based language), but this dance name does not appear within Romania suggesting this naming is local to Vidin region.

It should be noted that there are some different variations in the Vidin region (Gradets, Vrav, Novo Selo) that do not follow the common version suggesting these are older versions or more closely related to the Romanian versions.

The name Shala una or Chele une appears to be specific to the Montana region, but is not in Bulgarian language, instead sounding like a derivative from a Romanian shout at the start of the figure, something like “and at one” or “like at one”.

Published on 31st March 2023, last modified on 1st May 2023