Saturday, May 18, 2013

The "Flavors" of Romanian Sirba

Almost nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane.
H.P. Lovecraft

May is Dance Month on The Alien Diaries, and today's post focuses on different "flavors" of the Romanian folk dance, Sirba or Sârba, as it is spelled in Romanian. The hora and the sirba are the two of the best known Romanian folk dances. There are many varieties of hora; with regional differences, and they are usually done in a circle. The hora is especially popular during festivals and weddings, big communal celebrations in which everyone is expected to get up and dance.

The sirba may have had Serbian origins because the name means "Serb like." This proves that the Balkans are a multicultural mish-mosh. Dances (as well as dancers) are notorious for crossing existent and non-existent borders. Sirba can be done in either a circle or a line, depending on the preference of the leader, and the dance is often punctuated by stamps and shouts.

The first group, from Denmark, performs Sirba din Cimpoi.  Cimpoi is Romanian for bagpipe (also known in Slavic-speaking countries as a gaida).  They like the bagpipe in Romania, too, almost as much as their friends across the Danube, the Bulgarians. The in and out step with the arm swinging reminds me of a dance very popular in Bulgaria, Dunavsko Horo.

The next video is of  Sirba Pe Loc, also played on a bagpipe, and a staple in the repertoire of folk dancers around the world.  It translates into "dance in place." Most of the steps here are stamping and heel clicks; there's just a little bit of lateral movement.  Notice the shoulder hold, this is very common in Romanian folk dances.

These guys take sirba to a whole new level.  Since this is a male only group at a party, they, of course, want to show off.  My guess is that they have been hitting the bar as well, which fuels the energy here.

The shouts you hear are called strigaturi, and they are a common feature of Romanian folk dances. If I were there I would have joined the circle, the men have more fun. Notice that the men try to outdo each other, it's most likely a contest to attract the women with their physical prowess; in that respect sirba is similar to Bulgarian rachenitsa.

The music here is also different, a brass band with accordion, accompanied by a singer.  Despite all the distractions (staff bringing plates to tables and little kids running around), these men are totally focused on the dance.  Maybe it's the booze.

This integrated (male-female) group dances an extremely lively and animated sirba at a wedding. My guess is that the craziness is related the the amount of alcohol consumption. This dance has lots of stamping (bataie),  and everyone circles around the accordion player.  Some people consider the accordion an instrument of torture. In Eastern Europe, however, they love it almost as much as the bagpipe. 

If you enjoyed this, you may also like:

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa, Part 1

The "Flavors" of Bulgarian Rachenitsa, Part 2

Another Country Heard From: The Bagpipe in Romanian Folk Music

Stamping it Out: Vlach Dances from Serbia

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  1. All right.I am Romanian and I will need all of your names and addresses so I can invite you to my wedding because none of my young friends ain't rocking the old Sârba like all you crazy dudes. Keep being awesome! Noroc și sănătate!

  2. Actually kinda rare Katley when I'm not thinking "huh" from one of your posts, but when you talk about the hora well... just nice to see something I have actually done. Had a few Jewish friends once upon a time :)

  3. thanks to all for stopping by...I love Romanian folk dances...there will be more on this topic in an upcoming post. Stay tuned :)