Ţărăneasca (L*), Rusească, Rusască – Moldavia

*a Living dance is a 1st Generation dance that is still performed in the country of origin (or immigrant communities) as part of a social event like a wedding where others can participate (not for an audience) by people who learned the dance informally (from friends and relatives by observation and imitation, not in a classroom situation). For more information, click here and here.

Ţărăneasca, Ruseasca, Rusască, three words for essentially the same dance, is a classic example of a Living dance. Where it is popular (most of Moldavia) there are many ways to do it, and those many ways may be danced in the same space simultaneously. Ţărăneasca, from Ţărăn, “the man who tills the soil” means “peasant-like”, Ruseasca, Rusasca, both mean “Russian-like”. Which term is used seems to depend of whims of village taste more than geographical boundaries, though western Moldavia generally prefers Ţărăneasca, while the east (closer to Russia) tends to prefer Rusească/Rusască.

Anca Giurchescu, in Romanian Traditional Dance, (1995), states “In Moldavia, it is Ţărăneasca and polka-like dances that dominate village repertoires.” The terms Ţărăneasca, Ruseasca, Rusască, seem to refer to both the kind of fast 2/4 music, either instrumental or vocal, used to accompany the dances, and the dances themselves.

The dance was considered a fairly specific small-circle dance. According to the captions (by Fabr1s) on the YouTubes below, Țărăneasca” (lit. translated “peasant-like”) is a Moldavian small circles dance where the dancers are linked by back basket hold and the circle revolves rapidly, generally in both directions. Its dancing style is pretty similar with the southern Transylvanian “Jiana” (sometimes called “Jieneasca” or “Râureanca”).” To my mind, it bears a striking similarity to the Croatian Drmeš, especially the last YouTube shown here, which is bi-directional.

Caption: “Țărăneasca” performed by Ilie Cazacu (pipe / “fluier”) & Petruț Țăranu (folk lute / “cobză”). Romanian traditional folk song for dance from Moldova, Bucovina area, Fundu Moldovei village version. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC-ZWA4fM9s
Fundu Moldovei is a commune located in Suceava County, Romania. It is composed of ten villages: Botuș, Botușel, Braniștea, Colacu, Delnița, Deluț, Fundu Moldovei, Obcina Ursului, Plai, and Smida Ungurenilor
Caption: “Țărăneasca de la Grămești” performed by Constantin Sofian at reed (“fluier”). Romanian traditional folk song from Moldova, Bucovina area. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3AUKDZVeCk4

Nowadays it appears from the YouTube evidence below that Ţărăneasca/Ruseasca/Rusască includes both small-circle, large-circle-Sârba (T-6) dances, and Invârtita-style (woman crossing back & forth in front of man) and Polka-style (tight circles as a couple in two-step rhythm) couple dances.

Of the Polka, Giurchescu says the dominance of the Polka-type “is due to an accelerated and distinct evolutionary pattern along with the strong influence of the semi-cultivated ballroom dances which flourished in the Eastern Moldavian zone zone prior to the turn of the [20th] century. The numerous variants of the Turning Polka type….are either local adaptations of the well known and widespread polka type or else indigenous creations based on the polka model. Local people consider these dances part of their traditional inheritance and call them by their generic name Polcuțe (little polkas).”

As explained here, from 1775 to 1918, this part of Moldavia was renamed Bucovina, and attached to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, original home of the Polka, (the first turning couple dance to sweep Europe; for details, click). While the rest of Romania was still under the spell of the Ottomans, this corner of Romania, bordering on what is now Slovakia and Poland, was under the influence of Vienna-based Western Europe. As the local nobility and developing middle-class tried to adjust to its new overlords, it was only natural they would learn new dances, which would filter down to the peasants, likely in modified form.

Giurchescu says of Northern Moldavia “Traditionally, each community organizes its dances into a fairly fixed suite according to a pattern: an introductory Hora mare, followed by a series of mixed or men’s group dances….succeeded by set couple dances of various types, and almost always closed by the rapid, small-group circling dance Ţărăneasca (Rusească).


In the songs below, along with the Gârcina performing group demonstration, Strigaturi are inserted. Giurchescu lists these couplets as a few of many associated specifically with Ţărăneasca:

Haideți fetelor la joc               Come on, girls, join the dance
Da v-ar Dumnezeu noroc       God bless you, good luck and health

Si noroc și sănătate                Good luck and health
Să vă dăm la bărbățe              We wish that we could all marry you, 
Să vă dăm pe la bărbați          We wish that we could give you (find for you) a man.
Ca să nu ne blestemați           So that you'll never curse us.

Singer Andreea Haisan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=58m82MFadyQ&t=6s
Grajduri is a commune in Iași County, Western Moldavia, Romania. It is composed of seven villages: Cărbunari, Corcodel, Grajduri, Lunca, Pădureni, Poiana cu Cetate and Valea Satului.

Below, dancers have the option of dancing in small circles or Invârtita and Polka-type couples.

2017 Singer Andra Matei. Caption: “Peasant from Dolhești” is a satirical song inspired by village life. It’s about a girl whose mother when she dances in the village is “on fire”, and the girl … she doesn’t know how to dance at all and she is very ashamed. Do you find yourself in this story? “Lăutarii” Orchestra from Chisinau and the maestro Nicolae Botgros https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRYUxNJUZSE
Dolhești is a commune located in Suceava County, Romania. It is composed of three villages: Dolheștii Mari (the commune center), Dolheștii Mici and Valea Bourei.

Singer Ilie Caraş Dance – Sârba (T-6) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YuOzJDVo8w

Singer Georgiana Onuti, Câmpulung Here the full range of dance options are shown – Small circle, Sârba (T-6), Invârtita-style couples, and Polka-style couples. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODGTcSfnGi0&t=141s

Gârcina, Neamț region, Hora, Taraneasca (1:57-2:45), Hangul. Here the circle is large, uni-directional, and features stamps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pffV6ZESJW0

Vatra Dornei, Polka-type, and small circles (starting 0:33 & 1:18). 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oH7C3Cm5rvY


Music: Rusască de la Buzdug. Caption: Radio Paşcani is the first album released by Romanian twelve-piece cigan brass band Fanfare Ciocărlia. The album was recorded 1997 at Studio Electrocord in Bucharest, Romania, and mixed at Schalloran Tonstudio in Berlin, Germany. Producers are Henry Ernst and Helmut Neumann. The album was released 1998 by Piranha Musik.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToK_wgcjpsE
Dagâța is a commune in Iași County, Western Moldavia, Romania. It is composed of eight villages: Bălușești, Boatca, Buzdug, Dagâța, Mănăstirea, Piscu Rusului, Poienile, Tarnița and Zece Prăjini. The commune had 4809 people at the 2002 census; of these, 89.8% were ethnic Romanian and 10.2% were Roma. 98.9% of inhabitants were Romanian Orthodox.
Zece Prăjini (“Ten Fields”), population 400, is the village from which the Roma brass band Fanfare Ciocărlia originate.
This Rusască shows only couple dancers. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_f6kDpK4Gc


Musician Cristian Patras. Here the circle dance employs either simple crossover steps or a Double csárdás/Hora mare (T-4) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFxQXqCd-IM
Dance, Sârba (T-6). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KknH_Jd-PdQ
The Moldovan full-orchestra treatment. Chisinau, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeaPeCdO8vM
For an understanding of how Chișinau, Republic of Moldova, is historically tied to Romanian Moldavia, click here.
Here Ruseasca seems to mean polka-type couple dancing. 2011 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQLXPArwTvo
While here, most seem content to circle with no particular step, some couples do Polca-type or Invârtita-type steps in couples. 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k_0gPYyZ4M
Interesting formation here, similar to Transylvanian Ardeleana, evident starting 0:17. The guy in the white shirt and pink striped tie seems to be a ‘leader’, as other guys watch him for cues. The guys’ footwork is visible at 5:35. Amazing energy, some of the women look exhausted! Iași, 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcJJp9b2xKE

 Ardeleana, Polka & Sârba in Iași, 2015 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JMm-F5HpBM 
Iași, 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVV-esRW9SY
The Adrian Rigu band blends traditional Romanian folk music with modern jazz for his Rusească Noua . The dancers, however stick with Sârba and other traditional steps. Location unknown. 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amAz9YpROqo

As taught by Alexandru David at the 2015 Lyrids Folk Festival. https://lyridsfolkdancefestival.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Ruseasca-Lyrids-2015.pdf The only YouTube showing a similar step to David’s ‘jump together step’ is the Ţărăneasca above by Andra Matei, though it appears to be an in-air heel click rather than David’s on-ground jump-close with both feet. This is the ONLY example I could find of Ţărăneasca/Ruseasca/Rusască, the most popular folk dance in a large section of Romania, being taught to recreational folk dancers in North America.

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