Monday, October 5, 2015
I’ve been teaching dances this fall in Petaluma and at the College of Marin that I learned on my summer folk dance trip to Romania. And I have just started teaching an Israeli folk dance class at the Osher Jewish Community Center in San Rafael.
The connection between these two dance cultures is fascinating and deep. For starters, both countries use the word hora. And yet – despite what you might think – the word itself does not translate literally to dance in either Romanian or Hebrew. Joc is the Romanian word for dance (it also means play – a dual translation I quite like). Machol is the modern Hebrew word for dance. If you take it back to the Bible, there are many more including karar (to dance or whirl), chagag (to move or celebrate in a circle), rakad (to dance and jump and leap), and alats (jump or dance for joy).
Here’s the Webster dictionary translation of hora: “a traditional Israeli or Romanian circle dance.”
Hora Nirkoda, Hora Bialik, Hora Chassidit, Hora Agaditi, Hora Medura – all of these are early Israeli folk dances done with simple steps, typically two or three patterns, using lots of grapevines and running steps, moving primarily to the left and then frequently moving in and out of center, in 4/4 rhythm with phrases of 4 or 8 measures. All are closed circle dances, without a leader.
Hora Mare de la Munte, Hora de Mina, Hora Lautareasca din Dolj, Hora pe Sase – all of these Romanian folk dances are done in closed circles as well, with similar styling and steps.
Romanian music also rings of klezmer – due to the Jewish musicians (along with their Romany counterparts) who traveled throughout the country providing music for parties and holidays and celebrations.
It’s a big world, and yet we are all remarkably connected through music and dance.