This thesis investigates the lives, movements and performances of dancers in a Romanian urban folk ensemble from an anthropological perspective. Drawing on an extended period of fieldwork in the Romanian city of Timisoara, it gives an inside view of participation in organised cultural performances involving a local way of moving, in an area with an on-going interest in local and regional identity. It proposes that twentyfirst century regional identities in southeastern Europe and beyond, can be manifested through participation in performances of local dance, music and song and by doing so, it reveals that the experiences of dancers has the potential to uncover deeper understandings of contemporary socio-political changes.
This micro-study of collective behaviour, dance knowledge acquisition and performance training of ensemble dancers in Timisoara enhances the understanding of the culture of dance and dancers within similar ensembles and dance groups in other locations. Through an investigation of the micro aspects of dancers’ lives, both on stage in the front region, and off stage in the back region, it explores connections between local dance performances, their participants, and locality and the city. It draws on multi-layer concepts of local belonging that interact with notions of continuity and visibility, local cultural norms, and performance aesthetics.
This thesis follows the dancers through their ensemble lives, starting from their apprenticeship when they learn local dance moves and acquire a sense of belonging to the ensemble. It examines the role of the key choreographers as pseudo-parents within their ensemble family and the authorities that provide time-depth and stability through the maintenance of local cultural norms within ensemble life and in performance aesthetics. It examines the dancers’ involvement in local event organisation during the performance process, and concludes that the continuity of local dance, music and song is dependent on its local and translocal visibility.