Romanian Traditional Dance:

Still Surviving in a Modern World?

March 03, 2014  |  By Emilia Tiganescu, Romania

Romanian Traditional Dance:

I was in a pirouette, a double one. As always, I had some trouble with my head scarf. It hurts when you tight it and somehow, it never stays in place. This time, in that fast-paced movement of mine, I decided to do something a little bit different than just letting it simply slip off my head. There’s just one rule you have to respect on the stage and that’s to give an impressive performance. I certainly thought I did when hearing the public’s voice while I was throwing my scarf at their feet. It was just amazing.

Great experiences come from taking risks, and the stage certainly offers the ideal possibility to just that.

Although somehow underestimated in a modern society, specific traditional dance still succeeds in offering Romanians great feelings. How? And maybe, why? Because of the varying perspectives, reality proves that answers can be relative.

For instance, dance can represent a life-changing passion. And one can definitely fall in love with the choreography that if mastered, it can offer one the opportunity to conquer international stages. Romanian traditional dancers, in this case, make no exception. Through joyful attitude and precise steps, they can transform their movements into a synchronised artistic act. Moreover, colourful and ancient pieces of clothing fill the stage in order to show an insight into a country’s culture. 

“Before any show, inevitably, many emotions begin to rumble in me. But when I step on the stage and I see the public, anything bothering me disappears. I think of nothing. I simply start to dance, to perform. Sometimes, it’s all about the attitude. You have to look professional, like you know what you are doing. Following the steps, you then involve some force - the sound of breaking the stage should sound familiar to any of us - and you end up in front of a huge round of applause, sometimes exceeding your own expectations”, said Diana, 16 years old, from the “Poienita” ensemble in Brasov.

Sometimes indeed, the appreciation received by these dancers can exceed expectations. Not all the youngsters share the belief that traditional dance means a way of expressing emotions through cultural authenticity. For some, anything other than pop or house genres of music is  something to be ashamed of.

“My family was proud seeing me on stage, due to the fact that they were, and still are, folklore lovers. My friends’ reaction when finding out about my hobby was slightly different. There was once this girl who asked me ‘Why would you practice traditional dances?’ As far as I’m concerned, I have never been ashamed of my choice, but at that moment I became furious. So, of course, I invited her to one show, to prove her wrong”, continued Diana.

So there may be passion resting unshaken in our young dancers. Less appreciation from their peers seems to help some improve determination, a quality needed for performers to resist in the “world of the stage”, as some of them like to call it.

Always ready to give important information about what they do, Romanian traditional dancers consider themselves good enough just after many years of disciplined practice. Still, they love showing people their knowledge at different, opportunistic occasions like parties or weddings. But here one can meet people who dance traditionally just for the “sake of their bloodlines”. Coming from different regions, Romanians join together in specific traditional dances. There’s nothing professional in what they do. Their only purpose is to feel some overjoyed atmosphere flowing around their dance.

But where do all these moves and steps come from? Undoubtedly, previous generations have always played a crucial role in the development and maintenance of traditional customs. Elders have sustained their beliefs, transmitting them to their children and grand children. 

Ana, 18 years old, when asked about extracurricular activities, she answers: “I also practice traditional dances! I dance all around my flat with my grandmother, annoying our neighbours, which also a fun part of it”.

Thus, Romanian traditional dance is still part of a modernised society. It represents a means of having a great time with others and “at its finest” it becomes an artistic act. It revives many authentic scenes of our culture, recalling parts of our ancestors’ life. Should national appreciation increase, our traditional dance will be internationally known for its beauty. 

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