January 24, 2011

Hora, Romanian Traditional Dance

 "Hora" ("the round dance") is a Romanian dance inherited from Dacians, that gathers all the dancers  in a big circle.
Hora is an ancient ritual common in the Black Sea area, symbolizing spiritual communion, equality and the wish for a happy and joyful life. It is also popular in other countries as: Israel (hōrāh is Jewish national dance), Greece (χορός), Bulgaria (Horo) Macedonia (Oro). Hora is popular in festivals, weddings or event celebrations when people gathered in large circles and dance (the rhythm could be slow or fast).

 The Longing Ansamble / Ansamblul folcloric Dorul
"The longing" Ansamble  / Ansamblul folcloric Dorul 

Dancing Hora requires a set of standardized (more or less) steps. The dancers hold each others hands or put their hands on the shoulders of the neighbors. The dancers follow a sequence of steps forward and back: they start stepping with left foot, then step over with the right, step again with left foot, swing the right foot in front of left, then step back on their places.

Sometimes the circle spins, as the participants follows a similar sequence of steps but step to the side, passing left foot behind right, then move the right foot beside the left foot, then step to the side again, passing left foot in front of right, then move backward. When large groups gathered, people create several circles - the smaller inside the bigger and so on and are circling together, usually  to the right.

Doina Gorjului ansamble dancing Hora of the Union / Ansamblul folcloric Doina Gorjului dansand Hora Unirii
Doina Gorjului ansamble dancing Hora of the Union / Ansamblul folcloric Doina Gorjului dansand Hora Unirii

One of the most famous Romanian Hora is a patriotic song,  the Hymn of the Union of the Principalities :  "Hora of the Union" / "Hora Unirii", lyrics wrote by Vasile Alexandri, music by Alexandru Flechtenmacher. Its music and verses were heard today in every corner of Romania (and  this  inspired me to write the article).

24th January 2011 is the celebration day of the 152st anniversary of the reunification of  Wallachia and Moldavia. The people from these states elected same ruler: Alexandru Ioan Cuza as first prince of the "Romanian United Principalities" /  "Principality of Romania" in 1859.  This day is known as  "The Day of small union/Ziua Micii Unirii".  Every year on this day and also on "Great Union Day / Ziua Marii Uniri",   the Romanians gather in public places, singing and dancing  "Hora of the Union" (next video) . The master of Romanian painting Theodor Aman (1831-1891) immortalized one of these moments in his work "The Hora of the Union at Craiova/ Hora Unirii la Craiova", piece of art kept at the Romanian National Museum of Art.

The Hora of the Union at Craiova/ Hora Unirii la Craiova, by Theodor Aman - Picture courtesy of wikipedia

Come on, everybody, let's dance now the Hora of the Union!


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Emma Michaels

W.B. said...

I love learning about all different types of dances, especially from other cultures. Hora is one of my favorites. :)

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