Carpathian Brâul

Carpathian Brâul dance form

Carpathian Brâul

Brâul is a term used for types of men’s chain dances and is applied to several different regional families of dances that have little choreographic similarity. This page considers those found along the Carpathian mountains in Muntenia, Moldavia and Transylvania. These dances are based on the old strata of 3 measure step pattern which is found throughout southeastern Europe and Anatolia. Additionally the Brâuri structure generally has a walking (plimbăre or resting step) followed by more complex figures in place, a sequence that may be repeated many times.

Carpathian Brâul dance types

Mocănesc (shepherds’) dances

These are generally classified by structure, which also has some geographical correlation, giving rise to the names. However, there is much cross over between types:

  • Brâul bătrân (old type) is based on a 3 measure step motif non-concordant with the music. Often the sequence is indicated by commands (la comandă). The geographic range covers the Carpathians from southern Transylvania to northwest Moldavia. The dances range from very simple to the complex syncopated figures of the Corăghește found over much of southern Moldavia.
  • Brâul muscelean (named after the town Muscel in Muntenia) is based on a 3 measure motif but the music has adapted to be in 3 measure phrases so the dance is concordant to the music, hence such dances are often named Brâul pe șase (Brâul in six) as there are 6 beats to the phrase. But, there is also the local Brâul pe opt (Brâul in eight) which is similar in style to Brâul pe șase but based on a concordant 4 measure phrase.
  • Brâul ardelenesc as based on 2 and 4 measure motifs concordant with the music. These are mostly danced in regions of southern Transylvania.
  • Other dances that are often included under the title of Carpathian Brâul are:
  • The Carpathian “new-type” Brâul which has closer links to the Danubian Brâul.
  • Bărbătesc from Maramureș and Roata from Oaș which might have distant links to the Carpathian Brâul in that they include syncopation but they are based on 2 measure motifs that are more in common to the dances from northwestern and northern regions, but could also be connected to the Carpathian men’s group dances.

Choreographic form, motifs, music


Where syncopation is used in Brâul bătrân, Brâul muscelean, Brâul ardelenesc the dance steps are started by a half beat step or hop giving combinations such as qSSSqSS for Brâul muscelean, qSSqS for Brâul ardelenesc, and SqSqqqSS for Corăghește (where q=quick half beat, s=slow whole beat).

Syncopation in the Bărbătesc from Maramureș and Roata is based on the SqSqS form which is common in an arc from north to west Transylvania: Maramureș, Oaș, Codru, Bihor, Arad and Banat.

type names form structure motifs music
Brâul bătrân Brâul, Danțul, Brâul șchiop shoulder hold 3 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures syncopation, stamping, heel clicks 2/4
Brâul muscelean Brâul shoulder hold 3 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures syncopation, stamping, heel clicks 2/4
Brâul ardelenesc Brâul shoulder hold 4 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures syncopation, stamping, heel clicks 2/4
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 11th August 2018