Banat plain column dances – Duba, Lența, Desca etc.

For a full discussion on the documented sources see our blog Banat plain column dances.

The commonality connecting these various different dances is the dancing formation of a column of couples, with partners facing each other and holding their partners hands. Typically the dancers move side-ways right and left in a bilaterally step pattern.

Giurchescu’s classification “categories”

Giurchescu’s classification separating the Ardelene into sub-categories of “slow”, “syncopated” and “fast” is a useful basis [1]. However, these sub-categories are represented by different unrelated dances in the regions of Bihor, Arad and Banat, so this sub-category does not indicate that dances are actually connected in choreology or history.

Under Giurchescu’s category of “slow Ardeleana in straight time” she divides out the Banat mountain De doi (Type 3), the Bihor Polca (Type2), leaving “Type 1 slow Ardeleana” as a list of Banat Ardelene plus some additional dances Lența, Șireghea, Duba, Bradul, Desca which she later locationally separates as Crișana (Arad) Desca and Banat “Șireghea, Măzărichea, Duba, etc.”. There is not a further explanation about these dances.

Locally dances known as Ardeleana generically have a structure of 3 steps to the right and 3 steps to the left, with many variations and options, and are widespread over all of Banat (plain and mountains) and are not necessarily in column formation or in a fixed sequence.

Marcu’s dance “groups”

Marcu [2] puts the couple dances of Banat into groups linked by inclusion of a “typical” motif common to those dances in the group.

  • “Group A” is based on the motif of 7 side steps performed bilaterally in which he includes Sireghea, Judecata (or Iepura), plus De doi, Cana (or Oala), and Cârligul (and variant înainte şi înapoi from Bucovăț).
  • “Group C” is based on the characteristic motif of a jump in the dance Duba, and Marcu lists the variants as Lenţa, Bradu, Turca-furca, Cucuruzul and Șchioapa.

History

Although in 1964 Marcu comments that by then many of the dances in his books were no longer in the known repertoire at dance events, his research reveals quite a different dance cycle from Bartók’s 1910s collection [5] where the dominant dances were the slower Pe loc and faster De întorsu.

Of the dances Marcu describes Bartók recorded Desca (Diesca) in four locations, but only one Soroc and one Bradu; and no examples of Duba, Judecata or Lența. It seems likely that the popularity of these dances peaked between Bartók’s 1910s and Marcu’s 1950s dance collections. This period of introduction is the case in Ovcea (Ovča in Serbia) where Poșovaica and Cârligul were introduced in the interwar period, and later Duba was brought by the population from Satu Nou (Banatsko Novo Selo in Serbia).[6]


Location

As far as I am aware, these couple dances are specific to the Banat plain and Banat hills regions and are not danced in the adjacent regions of Oltenia, Bihor or Transylvania.

There is a clear dividing line between the dances (Duba, Bradu, Lența and Desca) north of Timișoara (approximately the line of Sânnicolau Mare– Arad–Lipova) and the dances (Judecata, De doi, Cȃrligu, Cana, Sireghea, Țandara, Cucuruzul, Măzărica, Toldăul, Poșovoaica) around Timișoara, towards Lugoj, and south to the Banat hills and mountains. This dividing line appears to be consistent for most of the dance repertoire apart from the old Banat couple dance, Pe loc, which is recorded over the whole Banat area.


Form – choreological structure

These dances have a commonality in that they are danced in a column formation, and are specific to the Banat plain. They 2have fixed step patterns, mostly with two figures, and incorporate a number of typical motifs that are not common in the other couple dances of the Banat plain.

The typical motifs are;

  1. 7 steps to side,
  2. 3 steps to side,
  3. jumps in place (mostly onto both feet in plié, sometimes with a rotation of body direction,
  4. occasionally “hop-step-step”

The choreological structure assembled from these motifs gives a clearer determination of the dance families. Most Banat (Romanian) dances are in four measure phrases, however, Cucuruzul is in 5 measure phrases, Duba is in 3 measure phrases, and Desca in 6 beat units (3/4).

Summarising some typical variants of these dances shows the characteristic structures, but this is not absolute as figures tend to be exchanged between dances.

North Timiș – south Arad

Firstly, three dances from the north-Timiș–Arad region that all end the dance phrase in “jumps”,

title measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4
Duba pe tre pași 3 steps 3 steps jumps
Duba sărită 2 steps 2 steps jumps
Bradu hop-step-step hop-step-step hop-step-step jumps
Lența 3 steps jumps 3 steps jumps

Timișoara and to the south

Secondly, there are the dances based on 7 side steps, but these are from two different origins. Judecata, De doi, and Cȃrligu are part of a couple dance genre, Judecata is part of a common central European theme for dances. Sireghea (Țandara), and Cucuruzul are related to men’s chain dances from the mountain region.

title measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4 measure 5
Judecata, De doi, Cȃrligu 7 steps 7 steps
Sireghea, Țandara 7 steps jumps 3 steps
Cucuruzul 7 steps jumps jumps 3 steps

Marcu’s Șchioapa (village of Banloc) and Turca-furca (village of Remetea Mare) [2] are just “jumps”, or more exactly bounces in demi-plié that are much the same as figure A in Măzărica villages or Ciuchici, Nicolinți, Naidaș, Răcășdia [3][4] and Sărita [4].

Marcu also has “Group B” called Măzărica, in which he includes Măzărica, Toldăul and Poșovoaica, which are related to the mountain Ardeleana.

title measure 1 measure 2 measure 3 measure 4
Măzărica, Toldăul, Poșovoaica 3 steps 3 steps 7 steps

References

  1. Giurchescu, Anca & Bloland, Sunni (1995) Romanian traditional dance : A contextual and structural approach, Mill Valley, California, Wild Flower Press.
  2. Marcu, Ionel, Cărăuș, Mara & Ilici, Sava L (1964). Dansuri populare din județul Timiș, Timișoara, Comitetul de Cultura și Educăție Socialista al judetului Timiș, Centrul de Ȋndrumare a creație populare și amișcării artisce de masă.
  3. Marcu, Ionel, Cărăuș, Mara & Ilici, Sava L (1964). Dansuri populare din Banat. Timișoara: Casa Regională a Creații Popular.
  4. Lațcu, Afilon & Muntean, Ioan (1974). Folclor coreografic din Almăj și Caraș. Reșița: Comitetul pentru Cultură și Educatie Socialistă al Judetului Caraș-Severin.
  5. Bartók, Béla (1967). Rumanian folk music. Volume 1: Instrumental melodies, The Hague, Martinus Nijhoff.
  6. Jurjovan, Trandafir (1983). Folclor muzical Romanesc din Ovcea. Ovcea: Societatea Cultural-Artistică "Steaua".
Published on 30th August 2021, last modified on 8th December 2021