Banat Brâul dance form
Brâul is a term used for types of men's chain dances, although there are now mixed and women's versions. The term is applies to several different regional families of dances that have little choreographic similarity.
The word Brâul comes from the Dacio-Illyrian language group meaning belt. Formations where the dancers hold their neighbour's belts are common throughout Bulgaria (known as na pojas) and east Serbia. Belt hold causes the dancers to be connected more rigidly than hand holds, thus the dance formations are restricted to short lines and semicircles. The belt hold rarely exists in Romania except in the name of the dance and has been replaced by shoulder hold or simple low hand hold.
There are many Banat Brâuri dances in the mountain region of Banat. This area has a long history of being a military border region, and has been politically associated with west Oltenia within the 'Banat of Severin'.
Banat Brâul dance types
There are two very different types of the Brâul, although there is some mixing;
- Brâul bătrân - danced by men and women in a similar context and steps to the Hora mare. A variant, Danţ also known as Brâul pădurenesc, is found in the adjacent zone of Pădureni. The basic step is a 4 measure sequence 3-3-2-3 in terms of steps per musical measure. This also used in the the local couple dance De doi and common in other guises in surrounding zones.
- Banat Brâul - many different fixed choreography dances usually known by a persons name (Brâul lui .......) or a place name (Brâul de la .... or Brâul .....ilor). Musical rhythm is 2/4 or asymmetric 7/8 (3+2+2). There is some similarity with the Oltenian Brâul in the bi-directional form and the typical steps.
This "long-short-short" rhythm, notated either as 3+2+2 or 4+3+3, has examples from Albania through west Bulgaria, east Serbia, Romanian Banat, and into Transylvania. It is thought that this has old origins from the early west Balkans. Similar dances in steps and rhythm to the Banat Brâul are found in Serbia, Žikino, and in west Bulgaria, Četvorno.
Choreographic form, motifs, music
|Brâul bătrân||Brâul, Danţul,||shoulder hold, low hand hold||bi-directional||4 measure sequence 3-3-2-3||2/4|
|Brâul||Brâul lui ...,
Brâul de la ...,
|shoulder hold||fixed sequence, often with a number of figures||crossing steps, leg swings, hops||2/4, 7/8|
DUMITRU, E. (1966) Brâuri Din Munti Banatului, Timşoara, Casa Regionala a Creatiei Populare Banat.
GIURCHESCU, A. & BLOLAND, S. (1995) Romanian Traditional Dance, "Mill Valley, California", Wild Flower Press.
LATCU, I. M. A. (1971) Folclor Coreografic Din Vaile Timisului Si Bistrei, Centrul creatiei populare Caras-Severin.
POPESCU-JUDET, G. (?) Jocuri Din Banat, Bucuresti, Editura de Stat pentru Literatura si Arta.