Ceată de feciori – men’s group dances

Group dance form

There are many European men’s group dances that have a number of common features that separate them from the social dance repertoire and other types of men’s dances, these being;

  • performed by the dancers in unison
  • the dancers are in a circle or other formation, but the dancers are not linked by hand or arm holds
  • sometimes the dancers hold a stick or swords, but do not perform fighting movements
  • often danced by a group with a leader
  • in ritual cases there is often a fixed number of dancers (usually an odd number)Some men’s group dances can be linked to customs, some may be derived from rituals, some are more to do with collecting money, and others are just part of the dance repertoire. These are sometimes called “corps dances” or in Romanian Ceată de feciori.

Note that this category does not include fighting imitation dances, solo dances or improvised stick dances, all of which are found elsewhere in Europe.

Some men’s group dances can be linked to customs, some may be derived from rituals, some are more to do with collecting money, and others are just part of the dance repertoire. These are sometimes called “corps dances” or in Romanian Ceată de feciori.

Romanian group dance types

The ‘classic’ Romanian ethnologist classification of group dances is based on differentiation by current function and region;

  • Ritual stick dances categorised by a retained ritual function (Căluș, Călușeri, Irozi).
  • Feciorește lads’ dances of Transylvania, including stick dances (De bâtă, Haidău, Fecioreasca) and all other Transylvanian men’s group dances or solo dances.
  • Carpathian springing dances encompassing all remaining group dances, plus other shepherds’ dances.
  • Sometimes the girl’s ritual Drăgaica is put into the group dance category, but this is more of a custom than dance.

A classification based on the choreology can give a clearer understanding of the basic relationships of these dances and their development.

Firstly, one can see there are two variants, those that have a stick as a prop and those without. Although there are also many examples where the use of a stick has been subsequently lost such as the Banat version of Călușeri, this does allow one to see that the fund of Transylvanian men’s dances links both to the wider category of ritual stick dances and to the Carpathian group dances;

  • Group stick dances with a stick as a prop; custom (ritual) dances Căluș, Călușeri, and Irozi and similar dances without a retained ritual function (De bâtă, Haidău)
  • Carpathian group dances (Trilișești, Țânțăroiul) and the similar forms of the Transylvanian lad’s dance Feciorește. The dances Bărbătesc, De sărit and Roata of Maramureș and Oaș can be included here, but note these could equally well be linked to Brâul.

Secondly, acknowledge that the various forms of Romanian Transylvanian lads’ dances are a collection derived the above different forms of the men’s group dance, plus varying extent of influences from other forms of men’s dances;

  • Transylvanian lads’ dances which are a collection of men’s group dances linked to ritual stick dances, Carpathian group dances, (Austro-)Hungarian derived Barbunc, and solo men’s dances.

Thirdly separate out the “leaping over sticks” from the larger family of Ceată de feciori;

  • Shepherds’ “leaping over sticks” such as Ciobăneasca peste Băț and Pre bât are in common with similar dances throughout Europe, so are probably separate to the other Romanian group dances.

Choreographic form, motifs, & music

The choreographic structure characteristic to the Romanian group dances are alternating;

  • walking (plimbări), or a basic step, in a circle moving anticlockwise
  • complex figures (mișcare) performed in place
  • The figures are formed from combinations of elements, often with a beginning-middle-end structure, sometimes individual in interpretation, sometimes in unison. This dance structure of alternating basic travelling step and figures in place is common to the Carpathian Brâul, common Sârba, ritual men’s dances and Carpathian group dances.
type names form structure motifs music
Men’s group stick dances Căluș, Călușeri, Irozi,

including De bâtă, Haidău,

group walking (plimbări) and figures syncopation, stamps, leaps, hops, heel clicks, high kicks 2/4
Carpathiamen’s group dances Trilișești, Țânțăroiul, Ceanunul, Brânza, Siminicul

including Bărbătescul, De sărit, Roata

including some Transylvanian Feciorește

group walking (plimbări) and figures syncopation, stamps, leaps, hops, heel clicks 2/4
lads’ dances

 

From the Romanian repertoire: Feciorește, Ponturi, Barbunc

From the Hungarian repertoire: Legényes, Figuras, Sűrű Magyar, Sűrű Tempo, Fogasolas, Pontozó

group walking (plimbări) and figures syncopation, stamps, leaps, hops, heel clicks, boot slaps, high kicks 2/4 and asymmetric
individual figures hops, heel clicks, boot slaps, high kicks 2/4 and asymmetric
Leaping over sticks Ciobăneasca peste Băț, Pre bât solo, duo dance around an object: crossed sticks or bottle leaps, hops 2/4
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 26th June 2018