Encyclopedia of Dance: Czardas


It is hard to imagine Hungary without a wide and incendiary čardas. This dance captured the soul of the people, their hopes and aspirations.

The language of folk dance is the language of friendship, because in dance people communicate without a dictionary or translator. The brightest dance images reveal the character, everyday and cultural characteristics of a particular people. Musicians and choreographers draw inspiration from the centuries-old art of their nation, enriching the world’s cultural treasury. Hungarians are rightly proud of their folk dances, permeated with the southern hot sun, which is reflected in their temperament. Czardas is one of the most popular Hungarian dances, known far beyond the borders of Hungary.

The history of the origin of the dance

The name of the dance comes from the Hungarian word «csárda», which means «tavern», «inn», «tavern». There are different opinions about the origin of chardash. Some believe that this dance originated from the Hungarian folk dance Verbunkos, while others consider the Haiduk dance to be the ancestor of the Čardas. The truth lies, as always, in the middle. Of course, the musical and choreographic style of the Verbunkosh left its mark on the Čardash, but the Haiduk dance also brought its own characteristic features.

The name «verbunkosch» comes from the German «to recruit into the army.» It was a predominantly male dance. At the end of the 18th — beginning of the 19th century in Hungary there was an active recruitment of young people into the army, which was accompanied by dances, songs, musical tunes with characteristic features. The accompaniment was carried out mainly by gypsy ensembles, which, due to their nomadic lifestyle, combined different musical elements — Hungarian, gypsy, Romanian, Serbian and even German.

Men’s Hungarian dances, due to historical features, developed faster than women’s. Dances with sabers, sticks, spurs require endurance, filigree technique. The parlor dance palotash contributed to the development of pair dance. Czardas absorbed the features of the folk dance verbunkos and the features of the parlor dance palotash.

The very name «chardash» is found for the first time in literature in 1840. The authorities sought to extract from it folk features and temperament, tried to distort it with salon and theatrical arrangements. But, due to a natural process, the interpenetration of folk and aristocratic dances took place: ordinary people mastered the parlor style of palotash and brought their own features into it, and the nobility, on the contrary, succumbed to the influence of folk traditions. The popularity of Čardas was promoted by classical composers who widely used folk motifs in their work, such as Liszt, Brahms, Bartok, Monti and others. Gypsy ensembles also contributed to the spread of czardas in Hungary and neighboring countries — Slovakia, Vojvodina, Moravia, Transylvania, and then throughout the world.

What is a chardash?

According to the composition of the performers, the Čardash dance belongs to the mixed dance: it is danced by both men and women. In the dance, there are usually two parts: a wide lyrical and fast incendiary. The musical size of the chardash is bipartite: 2/4 or 4/4. Čardas is characterized by technically complex syncopated movements, fast complex crackers, and jumps. The performers are collected, taut, the body is characterized by a proud position, a hidden temperament is felt in the movements.

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One couple can participate in the dance, or several couples at once. The dance can be built in such a way that it is clearly divided into a female part, a male part and a mixed part. Women’s costume includes a lot of skirts, often red, which, when whirling, take the form of a circle. The men’s suit is strict, it can be black, it emphasizes the harmony and smartness of the performer. Boots often have spurs. In this case, when performing the Hungarian key dance movement, a characteristic sound of spurs is emitted.

Cardash is characterized by technically complex movements of the legs, swaying of the hips in women, plasticity of the movement of the hands.


Each region of Hungary has its own version of čardas. Czardashi are:

  • men’s
  • female
  • mixed
  • for one pair
  • for several couples

Features of chardash

A distinctive feature of the dance is the variation of its tempo from slow wide to fast incendiary. Usually chardash begins with a slow melodious introduction in a circle (lass), and ends with an ever-increasing tempo of the pair part (frisch). The melody of the cardash is distinguished by a clear rhythmic pattern, and the dance combinations are complete. Hungarian music absorbed gypsy and Turkish flavor, and classical composers contributed to its worldwide distribution. Hungarian music and Hungarian dances, with their originality and temperament, have taken a firm place in world culture.

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