Învârtita turning dances

Învârtita dance form

The ‘turning’ dance is thought to have developed later than the ‘walking’ dance in Europe and versions are found from Sweden (Pols and Polska), through Poland (Oberek) down to Maramureș and Transylvania. The Romanian dance is the called the Învârtita or Bătuta with the Transylvanian Hungarian version called Forgatós.

Învârtita turning dances

The basic form is at moderate tempo with turning as a couple in alternate directions, separated by a resting step, without progressing around the dance space. This older simpler forms of the dance still continue in some places (Romanian regions along the northern edge of Transylvania and Hungarian town of Szék).

Unlike the Purtata family of dances, the Învârtita is danced by Romanians throughout Transylvania and Maramureș, not being restricted to Hungarian feudal areas as is the case with Purtata, possibly supporting Romanian dance views these dances have not spread via the Hungarian nobility.

The Învârtita should not be confused with the Csárdás which represents a ‘new style of Hungarian dancing which appeared around the mid-18th century. There are versions of Csárdás danced by the Hungarian communities in Transylvania, but few examples in the Romanian repertoire.

Învârtita couple dance types

There are a few distinct variants based on rhythm and tempo, and local adaptations to these. Typically a faster type will follow a slower type in a social dance occasion;

  • Straight Învârtita in 2/4 rhythm is danced across all Transylvania and Maramureș. There are some variants;
    • A fast tempo version, often with a simpler figure construction, can follow a moderate tempo version in Transylvania.
    • Variants in Maramureș, Oaș and Moldavia are normally termed ‘stamping Învârtita’ as adding local motifs of stamping to the choreographic construction makes the dance look distinct.
    • The Transylvanian plain region has developed more complex figures involving pirouettes for the women. Generally a single figure (or small number of variants) predominates in each location. These types are shared between the Hungarian and Romanian communities.
    • In Northern Transylvanian, in some zones, the simple form is augmented by leg slapping motifs from the men’s Feciorește.
    • The southern Transylvanian Hațegana looks to be related to the Ardeleana of Banat.
    • Sometimes the small circle dances of Carpathian Moldavia and Transylvania are included in the classification of Învârtita where there is a clear exchange between certain small circle dances and some turning dances, such as Jiana which can be in either form.
  • Syncopated Învârtita is termed from the slow-quick-slow-quick-slow base to the step pattern.
    • This is also danced to asymmetric rhythm. In southern Transylvania, including the Mureș region and westwards to Sălăj and Cluj regions, and Banat plain (where the dance is called Sorocul), the Învârtita is danced to an asymmetric 10/8 (4+3+3) rhythm, as are also the local men’s dances. This is specific to the Romanian community (except a few mixed villages where Hungarians also dance this version). In addition the steps can include some in contra-timp ‘off-beat’.
      • There is an additional formation version in Southern Transylvania where one man dances the same pattern with two women.
      • It can be danced by women in a small circle, often to a vocal song, which is often erroneously classified with the Purtata de fete type of women’s song-dance.
    • Syncopated rhythm Învârtita in the Oaș region is related to the syncopated version of the ‘Ardeleana’ from Arad, Bihor (known as Pe picior) and Sălăj regions.
  • A slower Învârtita variant is danced in a few central Transylvanian villages.

Choreographic form, motifs, & music

Some notes on the terminology for dance rhythms;

  • ‘Straight’ is formed from a basic two beats mostly in 2/4, but ‘straight’ Purtata is far from equal beats!
  • ‘Asymmetric’ is where the beats of each measure are of different lengths, but not in exact multiples as in the ‘aksak’ rhythms of Bulgaria which are based on beats of 2 or 3 notes. This asymmetric ‘groove’ is common in Romanian dances from Transylvania and Banat.
  • ‘Syncopated’ is when the step pattern includes steps shifted by half a beat after the expected timing. This is used throughout Romanian dance, including asymmetric rhythm couple dances.
  • When a whole step pattern is delayed by half a beat this is called ‘contra-timp’.
  • Steps can include hesitation or delay, which is also true of the old style of music playing, an effect known as dulce (sweetness).
type names form structure motifs music
Straight rhythm Învârtita, De-învârt, Bătuta scattered couples turning as a couple, resting figure, other more complex figures can include women’s pirouettes, men’s leg slapping 2/4
Stamping Învârtita, Tropotita, Bătuta scattered couples turning as a couple, resting figure can include men’s stamping 2/4
Asymmetric rhythm Învârtita, De-învârtita, scattered couples, trios, or small circles turning as a couple, resting figure can include women’s pirouettes, men’s heel clicks 10/16 (4+3+3)
and others
Fast tempo Harțagul, Hațegana scattered couples turning as a couple, resting figure can include women’s pirouettes, men’s heel clicks 2/4
Slow tempo Romanca, țigănește, Hungarian ciganánytanc scattered couples turning as a couple, resting figure
Small circle Țărăneasca Moldavia, Jiana, Jieneasca Transylvania, Hungarian Négyes Transylvania Small circles or 4 or more dancers turning in alternating direction 2/4
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 26th June 2018