Chain dances

Romanian chain dance types

The ‘classic’ Romanian classification of chain dances divides into basic types;

  • Hora (pl. Hore) which includes the basic social chain dances in 2/4 rhythm which are generally in 4 measure patterns and concordant to the music. Also the ‘fixed form’ (dances with a fixed pattern of motifs and/or parts) dances in 2/4 rhythm and the choreographically similar ‘fixed form’ dances in asymmetric rhythms are often included in this classification.
  • Sârba (pl. Sârbe) is separated by the 2/4 compound time (melody is 3/8+3/8) music. The social or ‘common’ Sârba is a 3 measure pattern, however the fixed form Sârbe are generally concordant to the music in the same way as the fixed form Hore.
  • Brâul (pl. Brâuri) is defined by the identification as a men’s chain dance (currently or in the past), however the choreology of the dance is regionally dependent.
  • There are various dances in asymmetric rhythms, which have been termed ‘aksak’, but these dances are generally choreographically within other dance types, most often included within the fixed form Hore.

Chain dance form

In chain dances the dancers are linked to their neighbours using their hands or arms. The line and circle dances of Romania are descendants of ancient dances, possibly associated with rituals, or more likely just have community functions.
Some dances are danced in a circle, either a complete circle or an open circle with dance leaders on the open ends. These formations are common in social occasions with larger numbers of participants and mostly use a simple hand hold which is more flexible not requiring exact movement in unison from the dancers.

Shorter lines or smaller circles often use holds that maintain a rigid linkage along the line. Holding the shoulders of one’s neighbours is common in Romanian men’s dances, ‘back basket hold’ where hands are joined behind the adjacent dancer, to the hand of the next dancer, is common in men’s dances and mixed men’s and women’s dances.

As a general rule, the circle dances of Western Europe move to the left and those of Eastern Europe and the Balkans move to the right. In Romania most of the dances that move predominantly in one direction move to the right in common with the rest of eastern Europe, although there are a few case of dances moving to the left.

There are a few examples of women’s vocal dances, although this is a very common dance type in the Balkan countries it is rare in Romania. Such dances appear to be vocal forms of various choreographic dance types.

Selections of various dances which fulfil the basic classification requirement are put into each of these categories, but may actually be linked by choreological development with other dances placed in the other types. It should be noted that the dance types are generally termed in Romanian by names which are also particular dance names.

Choreographic form, motifs, music

type names form structure motifs music
Hora Hora mare, Hora dreaptă, Hora de mână, Perinița

Stamping: Hangul, Floricica

Asymmetric rhythm: Sălcioara, Hodoroaga, Șchioapa

Ternary (3 measure): Jianul, Balta, Salta

hands joined at shoulder height 2 or 4 measure phrases, or bi-directional figures, or 3 measure phrases non-concordant with music walking, stamps, heel lifts, leaps 2/4 & others
Sârba Sârba holding neighbours’ shoulders 3 measure phrases non-concordant with music, or bi-directional figures 2/4 (in compound time ~6/8)
Brâul Brâul, Corăghește, Brâuleț, Galaonul, Poloxia, Alunelul, Danț Holding neighbours’ shoulders, or cross hand holds walking (plimbăre) travelling to the right & figures, or bi-directional figures syncopation, stamping, heel clicks, crossing, toe and heel actions 2/4 (Banat can be 7/8)
Published on 14th March 2017, last modified on 12th July 2022