Purtata walking dances

Purtata dance form

This dance is performed in couples standing side by side with their partner, arranged in an arc, with a lead couple. The dancers move round the dance space with walking steps in an anticlockwise direction to slow stately music.

Purtata walking dances

The Transylvanian Purtata is most probably linked to the European processional walking dance. Variants across Eastern Europe and Scandinavia include Polish Chodzony, Moravian Starodavny, the försteg of the Swedish Polska, Swedish Ganglåt, and Norwegian Gangar. It seems probable that the Polish Empire and the nobility was key to the distribution, and maybe the dances originated in the northern Slavic states.

This form of dance reached as far as the Principality of Transylvania, but not to the Ottoman ruled areas of Wallachia, Moldavia and Hungary. The Romanian versions are thought to have come via the Transylvanian nobility (mainly Hungarian) and this seems likely as the distribution predominantly includes the areas of Hungarian feudal rule.

These dances are the Purtata family of Romanian dances and the Hungarian Lassú (the slow) in the village of Szék. The music is mostly in 10/16 (long-long-longer-longer). This rhythm is very popular with Romanians and can be found in many dances north of the Carpathians in Banat and Transylvania.

The name Purtata is could be derived from a word meaning demeanour, manner of dressing, which could be related to the villagers’ version of the court dances from which the couple Purtata are thought to have derived?

Purtata dance types

There are a number of regional variants;

  • The Purtata from the Transylvanian plain is sometimes termed ‘straight’ as the dance and music are based on two slow beats per measure, but with much stretching and hesitation so is far from ‘straight’. In addition to the basic walking dance there are couple figures including pirouettes for the women and leg slaps for the men.
  • Southern Transylvania Purtata is danced with the typical southern Transylvanian ‘asymmetric’ rhythm 7/8 (3+2+2) or 10/16 (4+3+3) and almost lively music, sometimes being the same as the Feciorește.
  • De-a lungul (along the way) of east Transylvania, regions of the upper Mureș, Someș and Bistița-Năsăud, is based on 3 steps per measure at a slow and stretched 10/16 (4+3+3) or 11/16 (4+3+4). Unusually the variant found in the comuna of Hodac starts in a line formation.
  • The couple dance Împiedecata has developed to being danced by scattered couples not in the formation of an arc.

Choreographic form, motifs, music

type names form structure motifs music
Purtata from the Transylvanian plain Purtata, De purtat, Românește de purtat, Românește cu fete, De-nceput couples in crescent step sequence repeated with variations walking, pirouettes and boot clicks and syncopation can be added 10/16 (4+6)
southern Transylvanian Purtata Purtata, Pe sub mână couples in crescent step sequence repeated with variations 7/8 (3+2+2 ) or 10/16 (4+3+3)
De-a lungul De-a lungul, P-a lungul, De-a mână couples in crescent step sequence repeated with variations walking, pirouettes and boot clicks and syncopation can be added 10/16 (4+3+3) or 11/16 (4+3+4)
derived couple dance Împiedecata scattered couples
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 26th June 2018