Romanian Mythology In Dance

Myth as a source of folkloric artistic manifestations continually delineates new territories waiting to be re-discovered. In the moments of mythological "reconstruction" a process of sifting the essences is kindled, which fascinates and re-sizes the participants in a meta-real configuration. Myth ideologizes incantatory formulas, outdoes itself in that "illo tempore" that Mircea Eliade made eternal; to invoke the myth is to elude quotidian time, to evade objectively measured time; myth represented in art is a magical chronometer for the universal.Mythical images of Romanian folklore appear in choreographic form as an energy matrix, just like those "sites" defined by François Jullien as "the realm where one can come upon the largest concentration of energy, of intense accumulations, of profound exchanges." Inspiration that draws upon mythology always reveals symbolic dimensions. Mythology-informed representations are spectacular expressions, "signs" of the projection of macrocosmic metaphors; they offer genuine philosophies of symbolic forms. It is no accident that choreographic folklore favours forms like the circle, the square, alternations of curved and zigzagged lines or labyrinthic forms, all of them carriers of numerous semantic layers. A dance performance of mythological-folkloric inspiration involves a revolution of the spirit, an "experience" in the most elevated understanding of the concept. Jean Cassirer remarks, in fact, that "going from action to an outline, then to symbol and representation means that mythic vision emerges from a confined field of sensitive and spatial existence, only to grow larger progressively, step by step."Mythological insertions are not restricted the realm of literature, but appear also in music and dance. Referential legends like Mioriţa and Master Manole can be found as far back as George Enescu's manuscripts. Beliefs, customs and traditions circulating in village communities have credited valid choreographic formulas (doubled or not by spoken word and music).The hora1, for instance, one of the oldest expressions of folk dance, evinces the poetry of cyclic, initiatory unfolding, while attaining sometimes a ludic dimension as well. Ciuleandra2 has an unexpected incantatory power, which is also shared by the Căluşari3, which amaze above all by their bodily virtuosity. Whatever the formula for translating mythological ramifications into sequences of danced movement, the human body incorporates, apart from technicality, the elegance, the richness of form and the vitality of the feeling. Choreographers like Floria Capsali, Mitiţă Dumitrescu, Gabriel Negry or Vera Proca Ciortea have chiseled mythology and folklore into scenic representation, "reconstructing" or diversifying the stylistic transpositions. In Miriam Răducanu's recitals of modern dance, music and poetry the voice of Maria Tănase singing Ciuleandra offered moments of unique gratification; choreographic gesture touched upon psychological essences. Fundamentally "unconventional" spaces that accommodate evidences of mythological profundity and the compatibility of its mythological axes are to this day equally generous to the field of choreography, nourished by the magic of Romanian myth.
1 hora (Rom.) = Romanian slow-stepped folk dance, in which the dancers hold hands, forming a closed circle (trans. note);2 Ciuleandra (Rom.) = 1. folk dance from Walachia, at a progressively quickened step; 2. the song to which this dance is performed (trans. note); 3 căluşari (Rom.) = group of male dancers who, in the country, perform at Whitsuntide the dance called căluş (similar to the English morris dance) (trans. note).

by Raluca Ianegic