Teams of Romanian male dancers, in the Province of Arges, go round the villages over Whitsuntide. They are the equivalent of the UK "Morris" and "Mummers", here performed by Calusari (horse-men), "Fools" and gypsy musicians. The "Play" starts inside a "castle", formed by four of the dancer's linking their sticks, and shows a "battle" between a Russian Ruffian and a Turkish Overlord, a man dressed as his wife and a priest paraded in a wheelbarrow, in which there is much bawdry and horseplay. In addition to showing the highly skilled "Morris", the dancers also act as "medicine men", curing sick babies by dancing over them. This 16 mm mute film, made by Amice Calverley in 1938, with military to be seen in the background, demonstrates some of the pre-war wealth of village folk traditions, once found across Central Europe, but now mostly restricted to national folk ensembles. (Film presented to Douglas Kennedy in 1939 by the film-maker).(B & W/ 1938/ 45 mins with non-synchronised gypsy music added)
2. Falfani Calusa
3. Mute or Fool's Solo
4. Stick Dance in pairs
5. Dance without sticks
6. Slow motion
7. The Collection
8. More slow motion
9. Baby healing
10. Slobozia Calusa: Play
12. Falfani Pole Ritual
PITESTI CALUSA FROM FALFANI (Arges)
The mute in this case has the mask made from the skin of a freshly flayed kid worn bloody side out, with the tail forming a board. Note the splendidly decorated hats of the men, These are some of the finest dancers in Rumania. There is almost military precision in the action. They march round the pole waving their korchiofs, which takes place between each movement. The muto does a solo with somersaults and show-off dancing, dancing backwards with the polo overhead. For many of the movements the dancers couple up in pairs, holding their sticks In the right hand with their loft hands joined by the kerchieves.
Slow motion filming shows their footwork and close-ups of their turns as they go round in the circle, or make unusual walking steps, with their sticks held above their heads as they march round. Up-to-speed shows more dancing in pairs[ the movement going forward with a high jump and landing in a crouch position with knees deeply bent. Throwing the sticks forward, each couple dances with the hands interlaced behind their backs as they turn backward and forward. They form a line, hands interlaced behind them approaching the sticks, clapping the hands over the knees alternately. Slow motion again showing tho steps with hands interlaced bohind, the knee-clapping, the dance on all fours, face upwards. Note that the dancers sticks are frequently used to support them in their steps. Afterwards there is the collection with the handing of the hat round to the crowd.
SLOBOZIA CALUSARI, RASBOI. (Battle)
Four men form a square, holding their poles horizontally. This represents a castle. (There are two teams working here and two mutes). The mute brings a cloth and hangs it on one of the poles to represent a window. There is another window opposite. The mute takes possession of the castle (the men acting as walls and dancing the whole time). The mute brings a chair and finally a piece of sacking for a carpet and the castle is furnished. The two mutes enter tho castle alternately, or fight each other for its possession. There is a certain amount of buffoonery with the chair. One mute starts killing lice with his wooden phallus and the second mute comes up and attempts to saw his head off, using the wooden phallus as a sword.
To show that he is at home in his house, ono mute takes off his shirt and proceeds to de-louse it. Now the entire village has collected to watch, a procession approaches, led by the Turkish Overlord (wearing white dress with red cummerbund and fez). He smokes a pipe (a bullrush soaked In paraffin). He is carrying a whip and following by his armed guard, He enters the castle (When he enters one of the men forming the walls lets go of his stick which opens like a door. When the mutes enter they go through the walls. The Turkish Lord is enthroned in his castle. (Note: the musicians playing the violin and cobzaj, as before in the initiation.) The Turk runs out and lashes the crowd with his whip, collecting dues and tributes. While he is away the mutes enter the castle: they leave when he returns. He is again enthroned but is looking for a bride who will soon be seen
Procession of the bride, veiled (man dressed as a woman). Also Calusari dancer accompanied by mutes. The bride is brought into the castle and the Turk makes her acquaintance. She has her distaff for spinning and she spins all the time. She is veiled in the Turkish manner. The Turk registers matrimonial conditions. When he goes on tribute-collecting expeditions the mutes come in and torment the wife. The Turk shows them as an old and settled married couple. They go for a walk in the gardens, dancing gently.
Entry of the Russian. clad in red rags, roughly bound round him, spitting vodka from a bottle and splashing the liquor over the watching crowd. He also has a whip. He is followed by a priest of the Orthodox Church who rides in a wheelbarrow with his begging box dragging behind. The Russian enters the castle and attacks the wife, is discovered by the Turk, a fight ensues, each lashing out with their whips. This is repeated. There is an incident where the drunken Russian is caught by the Turk, he singes the Russian's nose with the hot pipe. The Russian is so drunk that he cannot understand what is happening: another fight: continuous attacks by the Russian. The Turk's wife becomes complacent to the Russian's advances and the Turk has no further interest In her. The Russian dances with the wife and forces vodka down her throat. The priest enters and attacks the wife. He is caught by the Turk who avenges the insult, driving the priest all round the compound, holding him by his begging box and beating him with his whip. The priest is rescued by the Russian. The priest hobbles off, climbs on a nearby roof, and, in pantomime, acts God the Father giving Moses the Commandments. While the priest is on the roof a shot was fired and the Turk was killed. The widow arranges the body and mourns over it. The Russian goes over to the roof where the priest is and tells him to bury the Turk, The priest backs up his roof, refusing. The triumphant Russian swills more vodka over the widow who continues mourning over her husband, covering his face with cloth and keening, rocking to and fro over his body. She Is again insulted by the mutes. The priest Is brought in his wheel-barrow to conduct the funeral rites. He at first refuses: later gives a perfunctory burial, using the Christian rites over the infidel Turk. The Russian insults the widow and finally in the 1ast details of the burial the Russian sits on the head of his victim. The body is then raised by the men who previously acted as walls and borne away as at a proper funeral. The villagers follow.
Village of Stobozia (Province of Arges)
SLOBOZIA CALUSARI (Whitsun dancing)
1) Preparing the standard by binding on the garlic and kerchief to the pole. The captain binds while all members of the team hold the post. The post is raised and brought forward. The mute puts his emblem to the post and the fiddler his bow (thus forming an arch), The team then form a chain, holding their sticks horizontally, and walk round the pole and under the arch formed by the emblem and mute. This is repeated a number of times. The musicians also walk round, playing their instruments. (Note the cobza and violin: also the bell tied to the knee of one of the men). Procession over the dancers
2) The dancers lie down on the ground, The captain bearing the pole, followed by the standard bearer, musicians and lastly the muto, step over the prostrate bodies. This is repeated.
3) Bastinado. Each member of the team in turn lies down on the ground. The feet are raised and locked between two sticks which are held by two of the dancers and the captain using two or three sticks held together in his hands strikes the thighs and the soles of the feet. The mute also strikes each man with the emblem. After the musicians have had their turn the mute is caught, he resists and escapes with a back somersault. The remainder of the company, including the captain, also receive their beatings. The captain takes his turn, the adjutant giving the beating. The mute attacks the captain with great violence, Finally the mute is caught, struggling wildly, and he receives his beating. This concludes the initiation.
FALFANI DANCES (Arges) and BABY HEALING (Whitsun dancing)
Falfani dancers are seen in the courtyard of a small house in the village with a team of young men who are magnificent dancers.
First, the regular ritual dance with various steps. On the ground by the post there Is a lump of rock salt and a basket which contains garlic and basil. As the dancers all advance, the captain cries magic incantations. The following recurring frequently:
Hup! Hup! Halisa! A sa, sa, sa, sa, sa!
The mute is in the form of a bull with horns. He leads the procession in two instances with a giant extended phallus.
THE BABY HEALING
A sick babe is laid on the ground and the captain dances over it. As he dances, tho mute squats on the ground, clapping his hands and watching the baby. Child after child is laid on the ground (this was about nine o'clock at night). Finally all tho dancers, except the mute, form a circle and with the girls of the village dance a hora round the pole.
New Years dance of village boys wearing masks, The characters: old man with the broken wheel of the sun. A hobby horse and a Jew, a bear and a gypsy, bride and groom, some old men who act a ritual of harvesting. There is a short Interval when the bear and the gypsy dance together; the hobby horse dancing with the Jew and the bride with the groom; the old men working with harvesting forks.
The bear dies as the gypsy gently strikes him with two sticks, trying to bring him to life, Turning him round. he tries to pull him up, but the boar falls again, the gypsy pulls him round and rolls him over, turning him in the direction of the sun. The bear takes the broken wheel of the sun, Finally he is turned in reverse to the sun and comes to life and dances.
STREET OF BUCHAREST
With real bears brought in by the gypsies: late evening in spring.
A masked "old man" bearing the Star of Bethlehem dances In the
Nativity Plays. acted by village boys at Christmas.
Dancers on the Banat. Note the long coif of the married women Pietro Noamte. Moldavia. Transylvania. near Clujo Black and white dresses with great white kerchiefs on their heads. Men's dance by the same group. Dancers from Comarnic in long straight line with arms joined on shoulders. Fronts dance; Bukovinas Calusi from the Agos. Macedonian colonists from Albania in the Dobrudja, Men with white felt kilts worsen with long black dresses. Music: a single bagpiper.
Note: Running dance from Oltonia. Folk disc club In Bucharest, Dancers being members of Society and the Univorsities who come to dance the National dances every Friday morning. Beautiful costumes mostly inherited from their ancostorso First. a man's dance and thon a whirling dance from Transylvania. Slow motion of Easter dance in Gorj district. Gypsies playing music for Easter dance, Adore. Slow motion of sane dance. Full speed. This is typical here of the Old Kingdom.
GENERAL FILM SHOWING SCENES GOING THROUGH RUMANIA (cont.)
Dancers from the Banat. Note the long coif of the married women, Pietro Neamts, Moldavia. Transylvania., near Cluj, black and white dresses with great white kerchiefs on the head. Men's dance by the same group. Dancers from Comarnic in long straight line with arms joined on shoulders. Men's dance; Bukovina. Calusi from the Arges. Macedonian colonists from Albania in the Dobrudja. Men with white felt kilts, women with long black dresses. Music: a bagpiper.
Running dance from Oltonia. Folk dance club in Bucharest with members of a society and from the Universities who come to do their national dances every Friday, wearing beautiful costumes mostly inherited from their ancestors. First. a man's dance and then a whirling dance from Transylvania. Slow motion of Easter dance in Gorj district with gypsies playing the music for the Easter dance. More slow motion of the same dance then up-to-speed with a typical Hora of the old kingdom.
CALUSARI, SLOBOZIA (Main Dance)
The mute, with mask like an animal, bearing the wooden phallic emblem and a crook (cioca), covered over with red binding. The main company start dancing round their standard with the musicians near-by. There is no audience as yet. The dance starts with the men all in line, the captain on the left. Between each movement they march round the post. Many different steps are shown but only specimens of each. The mute turns somersaults and dances In his own way, regardless of the main team. The mute has run into a house and seized a pot full of water. He upsets this water over his head and then throws the pot high In the air and it is broken. (This is to kill drought). Next, the dancers form a pyramid, climbing on each others shoulders to the height of three men, they hold onto tho post: they still dance. This represents a good harvest with high stacks of corn.
The village has now assembled and forms an audience around the dancers. A movement rather like 'Follow My Leader' ensues - they perform S-liko patterns. The pole with the kerchiefs and the garland can be seen always in the centre. Close-up of footwork showing one of the steps. The mute dances on all fours (a movement which might indicate the sewing of grain from the action of hands). A second pyramid is formed. One of the men standing on the shoulders of the mute, while tho rest of them dance round.
A third pyramid, again climbing up on the mute. this time the height of three men, they descend on the shoulders of the mute as they get up. This is the movement with the men joining hands as in a hora. Movement with the men dancing on all fours, facing upwards, turning over as they dance.
Movement with the men dancing on all fours with face down. Movement with them dancing round, holding their poles above their heads, The mute fetches a puppy dog and castrates it while the others dance round. The dance becomes more rapid in movement towards the end, when the poles are all thrown on the ground and the men, with hands on each others shoulders, dance in a row. The mute drags women from the audience into the field. Close-up of actual footwork showing steps.