Brâul is a term used for types of men's chain dances, although there are now mixed and women's versions. The term is applied to several different regional families of dances that have little choreographic similarity. This page considers those found along the Carpathian mountain in Muntenia, Moldavia and Transylvania.
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 The belt hold rarely exists in Romania except in the name of the dance and has been replaced by shoulder hold.
These dances are based on the very old 3 measure dance found throughout southern Europe. All these types have walking (plimbăre) and more complex figures, often with the sequence determined by the leader.
Mocănesc (shepherd's) dances
These are generally classified by structure, which also has some geographical correlation, giving rise to the names. However, there is much cross over between types.
- Brâul bătrân (old type) - based on a 3 measure motif non-concordant with the music. Often the sequence is given by commands. The geographic range covers the Carpathians from southern Transylvania to northwest Moldavia. The dances range from very simple to the complex syncopated figures of the Corăgheşte found over much of southern Moldavia.
- Brâul muscelean (named after the town Muscel in Muntenia) are based on a 3 measure motif but the music is adapted to 3 measure so is concordant, hence are often often called Brâul pe şase (Brâul in six) as there are 6 beats to the phrase.
- Brâul ardelenesc - based on 2 and 4 measure motif concordant with the music. These are mostly found in regions of southern Transylvania.
- The Carpathian new-type Brâul has closer links with the Danubian Brâul.
- Bărbătesc from Maramureş and Roata from Oaş have distant links to the Carpathian Brâul. They include syncopation and are based on 2 measure motifs but may be equally well connected to the men's group dances.
- The Brâul from the isolated zone of Pădureni in Hunedoara is closer to the Banat 'old-type' Brâul and southern Romanian dances.
Where syncopation is used in Brâul bătrân, Brâul muscelean, Brâul ardelenesc the dance steps are started by a half beat step or hop giving combinations such as qSSSqSS - Brâul muscelean, qSSqS - Brâul ardelenesc, and Corăgheşte - SqSqqqSS (where q=quick half beat, s=slow whole beat).
Syncopation in the Bărbătesc from Maramureş and Roata are based on the SqSqS which is common in the arc from these northern regions and through Bihor down to Banat.
|Brâul bătrân||Brâul, Danţul, Brâul şchiop||shoulder hold||3 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures||syncopation, stamping, heel clicks||2/4|
|Brâul muscelean||Brâul||shoulder hold||3 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures||syncopation, stamping, heel clicks||2/4|
|Brâul ardelenesc||Brâul||shoulder hold||4 measure, plimbăre travelling to the right & figures||syncopation, stamping, heel clicks||2/4|
BUCSAN, A. (1971) Specificul Dansului Popular Românesc, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România.
GIURCHESCU, A. & BLOLAND, S. (1995) Romanian Traditional Dance, "Mill Valley, California", Wild Flower Press.