Traditional dance

Romanian dance types

The dance section of this website is organised according to the ‘classic’ Romanian ethnologist and choreographer classification. This uses various formation, musical, choreographic, and functional features to produce a classification tree. This allows an easy categorisation into:

  • Chain dances including the basic social dances, the men’s dances, and a large repertoire of fixed sequence dances.
  • Ceată men’s group dances with includes ritual dances, similar dances without ritual context, and men’s dances with the same form.
  • Couple dances which have a more recent origin, including European fashionable dances, dances specific to the region, and some derived from the local chain dance repertoire.

It should be noted:

  • The dance ‘types’ under each of these categories are generally termed in Romanian by names which are also particular dance names, and dances with these names may also appear within other categories!
  • Within these categories there are selections of various dances which fulfil the classification, but may be actually linked by choreological development with other dances placed in the other types.
  • There is much cross-over between dances in the sub-categories, with chain dances being modified into couple dances, men’s group dance figures added to couple dance variations etc.
  • These dance formations often have routes in different periods of history.

Romanian traditional dance contexts

Village dance

A rich variety of traditional dances still exist in Romania due to the continuation of the feudal system until the mid 19th century and subsequently the isolation imposed by Ceaușescu during the communist period, which resulted in the continuance of a peasant rural life style. Romania is a unique European country as its folklore still existed in its social environment in many regions, but this is now vanishing with the spread of western culture and modern technology, but the dancing remains popular and continues in other contexts.

Ensembles

Organised performances by village folk dance groups within Romania can be traced back to the mid nineteenth century and earlier. Folk ensembles based in urban areas date from the period immediately after the Second World War. The first professional ensembles were founded around 1949, with amateur ensembles in the main regional towns from around 1950. Following a rapid decline after 1990, since 2005 the ensemble scene has grown with many pre-1990 ensembles reformed and many many new ensembles founded. The main difference now is that the youth join the ensembles as part of their social life, and life in the ensemble most often includes dancing socially as well as the choreographic form.

Recreational dance

In the urban setting there are now dance classes and groups of interested people who learn Romanian folk dances – similar to the Horo Clubs of Bulgaria and the Hungarian Táncház movement, but in the Romanian case the majority concentrate only on dances that are ethnographically local to their group so they can join in dancing socially at events especially at local traditional dance “Balls”, and also sometimes dance in short performances in the community.

Published on 11th March 2017, last modified on 26th June 2018