Jocul călusarilor - The Dance of the Călusari
For the invocation of fertility, but also with an aim
of the healing of certain diseases, the "Călusari", "Călusul",
or "jocul călusarilor" (the dance of the Călusari) is danced at Whitsuntide.
It was also described for the first time by Dimitrie Cantemir, and known in olden times in
all the regions of Romania. It has completely disappeared in Moldavia but not without
leaving certain traces in some men's dances of the region, while in Transylvania and the
Banat, it was put aside and replaced by a drawing-room dance. On the other hand, in
Oltenia, Wallachia and in the certain parts of Dobrogea, the old dance of the
"Călusari" was preserved in fairly well knit forms. Generally the custom has
the following aspect: after having bound themselves by oath to dance together for a
certain numbers of years and to respect the discipline imposed by tradition, the dancers
begin their rehearsals. The team, under leadership of a captain, is generally
composed of an old number of dancers. One of them, " (the dumb man), is masked. He is
nowadays the buffoon of the troup, but it seems that formerly he had a much more important
role. The Călusari wear a special festive costume and hold sticks, while the ''mut''
carries a sword in his hand. According to Dimitrie Cantemir, in his time all the Călusari
held swords. The troup carriers a banner: a pole adorned with coloured ribbons and a bunch
of wormwood and garlic at its top, healing herbs sought by the onlookers. The dance of the
"Călus'' is performed during a whole week, White week or "Calus_week" as
it is also called, during which the team also visits some neighbouring localities. The
dance composed of a circular promenade of the dancers, which alternates with more and more
intricate figures, has special dynamic and is extremely spectacular. In the course of time
this dance seems to have absorbed into itself several other ritual dances- war dances,
fertility, healing dances, hence its complex character.
Of recent years, the dance of the Călusari, relieved of its former magic function, has been taken over and turned to account by a number of amateur and professional artistic teams, sometimes with resounding success in performances.
Mădălin Chiricută, Ionut Trif, Cosmin Tănase
Duiliu Zamfirescu School, Focsani
Index | Other Traditions | Spring | Summer | Autumn | Winter