Lad’s dances (L*, 1*) Legényes and Feciorește (Hungarian and Romanian) – Transylvania

*1st Generation dance. A dance that developed in a traditional way – not ‘taught’ by a teacher or choreographer, but ‘learned’ by observing and imitating others in your “village”, where the village’s few dances were the only dances anyone knew. It usually is ‘generic’ – the dance pattern is fairly simple and not tied to any particular piece of music. The dance phrase may or may not match any musical phrase, but the music’s rhythm must be suitable for performing the footwork. This dance may have many variations, but they’re performed at the whim or inspiration of dancer not in a specific pattern. If the 1stG dance still exists in social situations (not performed on a stage) it is a Living dance. However if it now only exists as a community’s heritage, performed for audiences on a stage, it’s 1stG. For more, click here, here, and here.

Legényes, Hungarian – Living

Text from Hungarian Folk Dances, 2nd revised edition ©1988 by György Martin, [Dean of Hungarian folk dance researchers] Püski Publishing, New York.

When it comes to discovering the past of Hungarian dancing, and the story of its development, Transylvania must be considered the most important field of research. Dancing in Transylvania faithfully preserves its archaic features and is at the same time extraordinarily developed. It is therefore able to throw light on many an obscure point that is left unexplained by the sources. Owing to its particular historic and geographic position the dance folklore of Transylvania is an important source not only for the history of Hungarian or Rumanian culture, but for European cultural history as well.

Transylvania was the southeastern terminus of those currents of Late Medieval and Renaissance fashions. Early stages of these fashions developed independently, in isolation, in Transylvania, and newer, nineteenth century fashions only partially touched the country somewhat later. The new folk song and dance style spread very slowly in Transylvania. Isolation favored the survival of old traditions. This did not mean, however, that culture was arrested at a primitive stage. Escaping the conquest by the Turks ensured undisturbed, organic development.

In Transylvania, Hungarians, Rumanians and Saxons, keeping their own particular features, yet in mutual interaction, developed an extremely rich and wonderful peasant culture, which could not have arisen if one nation only had lived there, or would not have become so colorful. The ethnic multiplicity, the articulation of the landscape and undisturbed development largely contributed to the survival of the multi-colored character….

The aspect of mixed villages is particularly interesting. There are many small villages in the Mesöség, with no more than a few hundred inhabitants each, where Hungarians and Rumanians, and sometimes even Gypsies live together. In some of them they have kept apart, in others their culture has become part of a melting pot. It is just about impossible to discern what is particular to each nation. The band and the fiddlers play for Hungarians, play for Rumanians, and have their special tunes for the Gypsies. A tune they learn in a Rumanian village sometimes takes the fancy of the Hungarians, and the next place they play it thinks of the tune as a Hungarian one. The various ethnic groups living in the same village and neighboring settlements, sometimes of the same blood and tongue, largely differ inasmuch as they preserve different layers, structures, development stages and phase shifts of the same culture.

The smaller units of the Transylvanian Dance Dialect which can be easily distinguished are those of the Kalotaszeg, of the Mesöség, the Székeley land, the area inhabited by the Csángós of the Gyimes Pass, and those of the Hétfalu (around Brassó) the Székeleys of Bucovina, and the Csángós of Moldavia….

The legényes (Lad’s Dance) is the peak of Kalotaszeg dancing; it used to be the first dance of the dance cycle, of what was called the pár (pair). These days only a few outstanding dancers know it in each village: they give polished performances, as a display so to speak, specially ordering the music for them. It has a wealth of figures and is highly condensed and has a regular structure. The girls, while the Lad’s dance is going on, make up small circles and “shulffle”….

Heltai dance house, Cluj-Napoca, 2019.
A competition in Kalotaszentkirály, including several dancers from Japan. 2013.
Program celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Táchaz movement, and the 80th anniversary of the birth of György Martin, Budapest, 2012. Dancing starts at 4:40.

Feciorește, Romanian – mostly 1stG

While mixed dances predominate in the Romanian folk dance repertoire, a few are done only by men and others only by women. It may be assumed that the existence of dances for one gender only is, in some cases, a remnant of an archaic form of social segregation.

Originally, some of the men’s dances possessed a ritual function…. The large number of figurative or imitative dances using masks also belong to the category of men’s dances originally associated with rituals. Today, however, the great majority of men’s dances dances serve primarily to demonstrate the strength and skill of the performers for the purpose of competition to gain prestige among peers, or for showing-off. Examples are the various types of Brâu and Fecioreasca.…. Excerpt from “Romanian Traditional Dances” by Anca Guirchescu with Sunni Bloland.

Excerpts (below) from the article “Transylvanian Lad’s Dances” on the Eliznik website. For full text, click here:

Map source; Eliznik
UNESCO: Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – 2015 URL:… Lad’s dances are a genre of men’s folk dance in Romania practiced in community life on festive occasions, such as weddings and holidays, as well as during stage performances. Each community has its own variants, all of which display virtuosity and harmonious combinations of movement and rhythm. A special role is assigned to the dance leader and coordinator who trains and integrates group members, while the second leader is selected for his skills as a performer and leads the dance. Dancers group themselves into groups of boys and men aged 5 to 70, which may include Romanian, Hungarian and Roma dancers. This aspect contributes to intercultural dialogue and provides a context for learning more about cultural diversity, by witnessing, for example, local performers dancing at regional events or by observing choreographic styles of different ethnic groups. All community members are bearers and practitioners of the element, and taking part in the dance, be it as performers or spectators, enhances social cohesion. Lad’s dances provide an opportunity for young men to strengthen their social status in traditional communities, particularly among girls and their families in anticipation of marriage.

Extra information provided to UNESCO in order to obtain the addition of Lad’s Dance to the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity can be found here: Open and on the left sidebar, under Nomination File No. 10192, Nomination Form, click English .

Lately, women have started dancing as well. Brașov, 2011.
Şinca Nouă, near Brașov, 2015.
Wedding at Dăișoara, near Brasov, 2018.
Fecioreșc de la Făgăraș, Parma, Ohio, 2010.
Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland

In Oas and some parts of Bihor, Fecioreasca is performed as a circle dance, called Roata feciorilor

Roata” performed by Lucreția Popa (vocal), Roman Rostaș (1st violin), Niculae Covaci (2nd violin), & Niculae Rostuna (drum), field recording from 1950’s. Traian Fechete (2nd violin) & Ionel Covaci (drum) performs in “Roata II”. Romanian traditional folk song (“mănănțel”) from Crișana, Bihor area, Pietroasa village.
Demonstrating some step rhythms. Dancing starts 3:14. Bixad.
Roata feciorilor de la TÂRȘOLȚ
Also Bixad.

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