For the history, customs and music of Oaș , click here. See also Maramureș, because Oaș was once part of Maramureș, and Dick Crum’s article.
Anca Giurchescu, in her landmark book Romanian Traditional Dance, says “Danț is the generic term given to all dances from Oaș where the dance program consists of a free succession of men’s group circle dances (Roata) and scattered couple dances (Învârtita). The polymorphic dance formation [both group and couple formation in the same dance- DB] is typical in Oaș because the motific fund is the same for both the group as well as for the couple variants. There is great freedom of improvisation based on a few patterns which are continuously varied. The basic syncopated rhythmical patterns common for the Danț of Oaș are characteristic of Maramureș (Bărbătescul), eastern Moldavia, and western Bihor as well….
In spite of the fact that Maramureș and Oaș share certain kinetic and rhythmic traits in common with northern Moldavia and Bihor, the particular mode of dance execution in this northwestern area of Transylvania is unlike any other in all of Romania. An outstanding characteristic of the regional dance is its powerful rhythm expressed through frequent shouting, the use of trampling steps and stamps, and the frequent shifting of accents in the footwork while the torso remains relatively inactive.
In Oaș the trampling steps and melodic shouts (țîpurituri) coincide with the highest peaks of intensity in the performance of the dance. The dancers shoulders shake and their heads wobble continuously in response to the strongly accented stamping which is taken on the full foot while the knees remain almost rigid. The arms hang loosely at the sides, which contribute to the bouncy, doll-like appearance of the dance. The țîpurituri start with a high-pitched cry (țura or țupța) which draws people’s attention to the verses which follow. At the village JOC it is mostly the men who shout, mostly in unison and in an overwhelming heterophony, trying to make each of their voices heard above the others.“
Comment by John Uhlemann: “I am happy you put up videos of this fascinating area. I visited it in 1978 when all this was current and not revival. I would disagree about heads wobbling in time to the music. They never did this in Oas; it was introduced as a “motif” by National folk ensembles, usually run by southern Romanians, who found the Oas style funny. This was common among choreographers of the time, and not just in Romania.”