Set couple dances

Set couple dance form

Throughout history the latest dance fashions are introduced into the local dance repertoire at social functions. These are adapted into the village context taking aspects of the local dance style, step patterns, figures or music, as was probably the case for the Ardeleana, Purtata and Învârtita, which are now varied, flexible and improvised couple dances.

This category I have termed as “Set couple dances” includes all organised couple dance types not include elsewhere, most of which have arrived or developed after the early 19th century, the majority of which have a “set” form or organisation.

In addition to the obvious Polkas and Schottisches, the Romanian ethnologists classification gives a few, rather open distinguishing features;

  • a set order, or commanded order of predetermined figures
  • couples in a circle

Possibly due to the large fund of older types of dance, some of these newer couple dances are not so often included in stage choreographies or taught to those studying Romanian dance.

The more recent dance fashions of Waltz and Tango are deeply embedded in the social dance repertoire, although not normally included in ‘traditional dance’ studies. For example the Vlașca region village of Răsuceni in southern Muntenia includes the dances Ceardașul (Romanian spelling for Csárdás) and Poloneza.

Set couple dance types

A list of set couple dance types;

  • Polca, Polcuța (Polka) – The polka now has many variants in Moldavia although these look very different to the original lively Czech Polka, and are now believed to be Romanian dances by the villagers.
  • Germanic dances such as the Seven Steps (Siebenschritt) are found in Transylvania and Moldavia where Germans were employed in the mining industry, e.g. Roata de șapt pași (around Baia Mare), Porka and Hétlépés (Szek).
  • Jurelul quadrille dance form reached Maramureș via the Ukraine.
  • ‘Walking and turning’
  • Mușamaua ‘Change by command’ – found throughout Romania as Spic de Grâu, hop și alta, Kecsketánc (Csango), and with the Bulgarians living along the Danube. Couples move round a circle and at the call of the leader change direction or move on to the next partner.

Choreographic form, motifs, & music

type names form structure motifs music
change by command Mușamaua couples in circle 2/4
Polca, Polcuța couples in circle 2/4
Germanic Roata de șapt pași, Porka and Hétlépés (Hungarian Szek) couples in arc in dance space 2/4
walking & turning Ciobănașul, Foricica couples in circle 2/4
Quadrille Jurelul lines of couples facing figures in couple and with couple in opposing line 2/4
Published on 1st March 2018, last modified on 26th June 2018