Romanian couple dances

Romanian couple dances have developed from European couple dances as the fashions in dances have changed, but within these formations other local steps and figures have been incorporated.

A possible historic context could be;

  1. Ardeleana, is found in Banat and Bihor (west of Transylvania), but the name indicates a Transylvanian origin. Ardeleana may be related to the Hațegana of southern Transylvania, but does not include any turning figures. This might suggest an earlier form of the Transylvanian dance. In Bartók’s work on Romanian folk music he concludes that the Bihor Ardeleana melodies are old examples of the Carpathian Kolomyka type, pre-dating the interpretations in the Hungarian or Transylvanian repertoires he recorded, and in the dances the rhythmic patterns show a connection to the repertoires of Carpathian Maramureș and Oaș regions.
  2. The processional walking dance is performed in couples standing side by side with their partner, arranged in an arc, with a lead couple. Variants across Eastern Europe and Scandinavia include Polish Chodzony, Moravian Starodavny, the försteg of the Swedish Polska, Swedish Ganglåt, Norwegian Gangar, and Romanian Purtata. It looks likely the Polish Empire was key to the distribution, and maybe the dances originated in the northern Slavic states.
  3. The turning couple dance is thought to have developed after the processional walking dance, and has variants across Eastern Europe and Scandinavia: the Polish Oberek, Bohemian Polka, Austrian Waltz, Moravian Starodavny, Swedish Polska and Pols, Romanian Învârtita, and Hungarian forgatós. It is thought that the oldest forms including the Transylvanian versions, and older style Swedish slängpolska involve turning in place and in the later forms the couple move around the dance space as they turn in couples.
  4. Set dances derived from European dance fashions including variants of the turning polka (Polcuța) schottische and quadrille. These are found both as recognisable European dances, and as locally created dances. There are also dances with couples in a circle and that change direction or partner by command.

The ‘classic’ Romanian classification of couple dances also includes,

  1. Breaza (Ca la Breaza, Ungarica, De doi, Kettös) which is categorised by the syncopated q-s-q-s-s rhythm (s=slow, q =quick). This rhythm is clearly related to the local repertoire of shepherds’ Brâul dances, but for Breaza it can be danced in separate couples, or couples in a circle, or just as a circle.

Choreographic form, motifs, & music

type names form structure motifs music
Breaza Breaza, Ca la Breaza, De doi, Ungurica, Mocăncuța, Kettös chain dance, couples in circle, scattered couples, short lines 2/4 (q-s-q-s-s)
Purtata Purtata, De purtat, Românește de purtat, Românește cu fete, De-nceput
Purtata, Pe sub mână
De-a lungul, P-a lungul, De-a mână
crescent of couples with a lead couple, side by side with their partner 10/16 (4+3+3)
and others
Învârtita Învârtita, De-învârt, Bătuta, Învârtita, Tropotita, Bătuta, Învârtita, De-învârtita, Harțagul, Hațegana, Romanca scattered couples, trios, or small circles turning as a couple, resting figure can include women’s pirouettes, men’s heel clicks, men’s stamping, men’s leg slapping 2/4 (also 10/16,
Ardeleana Ardeleana, Sorocul, Pe Picior, De Doi, Mânântel, , Lența, Duba, Țarina, Polca, Poarga, Luncanul couples arranged in a column dancer moving to the side and back, either in the same or opposite direction as their partner men have stamping steps, and leg slapping sequences, interweaving and encircling arm patterns with the women performing rapid turns, 2/4
set dances
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 26th June 2018