A brief description of Bonchida (based on the text of the Méta Band’s CD for dance instruction):
Bonchida lies on the western edge of the Transylvanian Heath (Mezőség), north of Kolozsvár along the Kis-Szamos River. It once served as a market town. At the end of the 20th century, the inhabitants were 57% Romanian, 26% Hungarian, and 17% Gypsy.
Historical sources document this settlement from the 13th century onward. It once belonged to Doboka County, later to Kolozs. Bonchida belonged to crown land along with the salt mines at Szék, and the road for salt transport led to Bonchida. They held county council meetings there too.
In the course of years, Bonchida’s location along the highway proved to have disadvantages, for it was often prey to military forces (Tatar campaigns, Transylvanian peasant uprisings, the Kuruc wars, and the 1848 Revolution). From the 14th century onward, the name of Bonchida is linked to that of the famed Bánffy dynasty. The Bánffy Castle in Bonchida was referred to as “the Transylvanian Versailles”.
Two dance cycles existed in Bonchida into the middle of the 20th century, namely, a Hungarian and a Romanian. In total, these dance cycles consist of six dance types, three men’s dances and three couples’ dances. Ethnically characteristic is the lassú magyar (slow Hungarian) for the Hungarian; the bărbunc (recruiting dance) and the învîrtita (slow turning dance) for the Romanian.
The Hungarian cycle: 1. Lassú magyar (slow Hungarian) 2. Sűrű magyar (quick Hungarian) 3. Lassú csárdás (slow csárdás) 4. Gyors csárdás (quick csárdás).
The Romanian cycle: 1. Bărbunc (recruiting dance) 2. Fecioreşte des (quick lads’ dance) 3. Ţiganeşte (slow csárdás) 4. Învîrtita (turning dance) 5. Ţiganeşte iute (quick csárdás).
Archive video from 1968 of Bonchida dances
Based on György Martin’s Magyar tánctípusok és táncdialektusok
The dance culture of the southern part of the Kisalföld (Northwestern Plain) is differentiated from that of Szigetköz-Csallóköz as well as from the northern regions of the Dunántúl (Transdanubia) with so little to distinguish their dance. Its characteristic dance types and the unique features of its dance culture make it the most important region of the western dance dialect.
Among the dances of Rábaköz, the verbunk (recruiting dance) is primarily the dance type that distinguishes Rábaköz from other parts of the Hungarian language territory. In the community of the peasants of Rábaköz, this dance had an exceptionally significant role. Rábaköz is the only region in the Hungarian language territory where traces of the historical körverbunk (circle recruiting dance) were preserved in living tradition almost up to present times.
This region’s csárdás dances fit organically among the quick csárdás family of Western Hungary. The primary difference between the slow and quick csárdás—namely, the marked poverty of the slow csárdás, the richer development of the quick csárdás—and the down accent place this form of the csárdás with those characteristic of the Dunántúl region (Transdanubia). But it deviates from the other csárdás dances of the Dunántúl dialect in some respects: the unique features are loose couples’ hold, the disproportionate frequency of turning the woman out, and the lack of lippentős motif (“dunking”, that is, the closing of couples’ turning with a straddled dunking motion). We must also mention the old custom of the man beginning the dance by turning the woman once under his arm (familiar as well in the dancing of the Austrians, the Romanians of Bihar, the Hungarians and Romanians of the Transylvanian Heath, and even the Goráls of the western Carpathians). The older dancers never begin the slow or quick csárdás without this introductory figure.
Next to the verbunk, the most notable dance form of Rábaköz is the so-called dus or mars (march). It is comparatively developed as the local version of the family of ugrós (jumping) dances, but also preserved old features. This part of the dance cycle is known as dus in most places, with the exception of the western Rábaköz where they call it mars and utilize it primarily as a couples’ promenade.