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.
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 is predominantly the northern areas of Hungarian feudal rule.
These now exist in Transylvania as the Purtata family of Romanian dances and the Hungarian Lassú (the slow) in the village of Szek plus the Kettos of the Gymes Csangos. The music is mostly in 10/16 (long-long-longer-longer). This rhythm is very typically Romanian and can be found in many dances north of the Carpathians from Banat to central Transylvania.
Purtata is derived from a word meaning demeanour, manner of dressing etc. which could be related to the peasants' version of the court dances from which the couple Purtata are thought to have derived?
There are a number of regional variants;
- Transylvanian plain - also termed 'straight' rhythm Purtata. The dance and music are based on two slow beats per measure, with much stretching and hesitation. In addition to the basic walking dance there are couple figures including pirouettes for the women and leg slaps for the men.
- Southern Transylvania - also termed 'asymmetric' rhythm Purtat with typical southern Transylvanian 7/8 (3+2+2 ) or 10/16 (4+3+3) almost lively music, sometimes being the same as as the Fecioreşte.
- De-a lungul (along the way) of east Transylvania, regions of the upper Mureş, Someş and Bistiţa-Năsăud, is based on 3 steps per measure at a slow and stretched 10/16 (4+3+3) or 11/16 (4+3+4). Note that the variant found in the comuna of Hodac starts in a line formation.
- derived couple dance Împiedecata is danced by scattered couples.
|Transylvanian plain||Purtata, De purtat, Româneşte de purtat, Româneşte cu fete, De-nceput||couples in crescent||10/16 (4+6)|
|southern Transylvania||Purtata, Pe sub mână||couples in crescent||7/8 (3+2+2 ) or 10/16 (4+3+3)|
|East Transylvania||De-a lungul, P-a lungul, De-a mână||couples in crescent||10/16 (4+3+3) or 11/16 (4+3+4)|
|derived couple dance||Împiedecata||scattered couples|
BUCSAN, A. (1971) Specificul Dansului Popular Românesc, Editura Academiei Republicii Socialiste România.
BUCSAN, A. (1957) Jocuri Din Ardealul De Sud, Editura de Stat.
GIURCHESCU, A. & BLOLAND, S. (1995) Romanian Traditional Dance, "Mill Valley, California", Wild Flower Press.