Dance and Music Material 2024

The 2024 dance and music material will be from the areas of Búza, Szilágyság, and Bonchida (Romanian cyle).  


  • Intermediate/advanced: Bonchida taught by István and Erika
  • Beginner: Búza taught by Cimbi and Bea
  • All levels: Szilágyság taught by Cimbi and Bea
  • Children’s Dance: taught by István and Erika

Music: Szilágyság


Búza is a village located near the center of the Mezöség region of Transylvania, Romania, about 20 km northeast of Magyarpalatka. Búza is an administrative township center, one of the largest in the region known as Tóvidék. Characteristic physical features of the landscape are valleys, barren hills and deciduous woods. From the beginning, Búza was settled by Saxons and Hungarians. As with many another villages in inner Transylvania, Búza was affected by the ravages of war in the course of its history. (In 1603, for example, only five houses remained standing!) The stone church that dominates the village was built in 1884. The village’s peak population, attained in the middle of the 20th century (in 1941: 2382), subsided to nearly half after the Second World War because of the industrial policies imposed by Communism. According to census figures of 2002, the ethnic distribution of 1213 inhabitants was 616 Romanian, 587 Hungarian, and 10 Roma. Today some of the Búza natives and their descendants live in nearby Szamosújvár.

The music and dance of Búza are characteristic of central Mezöség, though with some interesting variations. Their dance cycle consists of parts that are typical for the Transylvanian Heath. The couples’ dances are the csárdás, the szökős, and the sűrű csárdás. They dance similar figures to all three parts, differentiated principally by tempo. The men’s dances are the ritka magyar and the sűrű magyar. Of these men’s dances, sad to say, very little has been preserved in film, but from those few figures it is clear that they were very lovely, measured, uniquely elegant dances. In the couples’ dances, the cross-over and throwing-behind figures alternate constantly with slapping figures. In the dancing of Búza, the turning under the arm that is so characteristic of other areas of the Transylvanian Heath is not typical and is documented only a couple of times. Unique are the woman’s dancing of steps on the upbeat when she crosses back over and the six-count sequence that concludes the throwing-behind from the left.

Video [one]

Archive video [one] [two]


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.  The focus of teaching this year will be on the Romanian dance cycles. 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).

Video [one] [two] [three]

Archive video [one]


The folk music of Szilágyság is treated in a monograph by István Almási (Szilágysági népzene, Bucharest:  Kriterion Könyvkiadó, 1979).  The collection contains more than 255 melodies as well as comprehensive information on the region and its people in their singing and performance of music.

Szilágyság is an area contiguous with the Nyírség and the Hajdúság (and thereby with the Great Hungarian Plain).  Strictly speaking, it is neither geographically nor historically part of Transylvania.

Some linguists rank the dialect spoken there with the Szamoshát dialect, some with the Bihar.

Its folk dances resemble those of the Upper Tisza region, but its dance music is connected to Transylvania.

The unique musical character of this region was determined by an earlier tradition that has receded or partly died out, yielding to newer layers, the so-called new-style folksongs, popular songs, and recent csárdás-like music of virtuosic character.  Almási gives a background explanation to the reference of Károly Kós [celebrated architect and folklorist] to “singing Szilágyság”.  He writes that the people of Szilágyság are particularly proud of Árpád Balázs, their composer of popular songs from the beginning of this century who was a clerk at the orphans’ court of Zilah until the end of World War I.  He adds that “popular art songs play a strikingly predominant role in the musical life of this region”.

Worthy of mention are the singers Mrs. János Hoffner and Mrs. András Lukács from Kárásztelek in the Szilágyság —and Miklós Varga „Csillag”, violinist, and Szilágyi Géza, violist, senior village musicians from Szilágysámson.

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