Information about some of the dances we have performed throughout our existence may be found below. The Ensemble currently performs dances from Kalocsa and Szatmár in modern-day Hungary, as well as dances from the Gömör region of Greater Hungary (now part of southern Slovakia).
Domahazi dance routine
Domaháza is in upper Hungary, the Eastern Palóc region. The costumes are from the small village of Kazár. This region’s folklore contains a very distinctively rich
folk art and a special dialect not only in folk dancing and music, but in speech as well. The choreography begins with a girls’ dance, which is very important in village life. These a cappella dances were danced during Lent when other dancing was forbidden. Since these girls’ dances were not accompanied by music, they were allowed.
The men’s dance, the Vasvári verbunk, is a men’s recruiting dance. This will be followed by a slow and fast couples dance.
The gyímesi verbunk comes from the Csángók living in the Gyímes Valley of Transylvania. The word “csángó” itself means those who have wandered off from the rest. They are descendants of Hungarians who never actually entered the Carpathian Basin at the time of the Hungarian Conquest. Csángós are a very unfortunate group of people. Many Hungarians think they are Romanians; Romanians, on the other hand, claim that they are Hungarianized Romanians. For years the Romanian government attempted to confuse the Csángós about their Hungarian heritage and forbade the use and instruction of the Hungarian language. While it is still hard for the Csángó Hungarians in Romania today, their situation is somewhat better. Because of the isolation of the villages, the Csángó Hungarians maintained a very archaic Hungarian language form and a very old stratum of folk songs and music.
Kalocsai dance routine
Kalocsa, which is located in the middle of the Great Hungarian Plain, is famous for its richly decorated costumes, for its embroidery and its paprika. The social and economic development of the region at the end of the 19th century resulted in the total rejuvenation of old-style folk art and dancing. While the csárdás and friss–slow and fast couple dance, respectively–remained simple in their movements, the mars–a marching, processional dance–became very dynamic.
The Ensemble owns two variants of costumes from Kalocsa: one dating from the turn of the 20th century and a more modern representation. The older style’s embroidery has only three colors: red, black, and blue. The shirts and blouses are also have much less embroidery than the modern costumes do. The modern costumes are multicolored and richly embroidered. The lads’ costume even includes a purple brocade vest, while the girls wear a headdress of colored ribbon.
Kalotaszegi dances are from west-central Transylvania. Our dance consists of three parts: slow csárdás, quick dance, and men’s dance. This region is reknowned for its wealth of folklore in dance, costumes, and customs. In Kalotaszeg you can travel from village to village finding a uniform base for folklore, with each village adding its own flair and style. It is the most widely recognized and wealthy region of Transylvania.
Kiszehajtás was a springtime ritual, only practiced in the Nyitra region of southern Slovakia, that village girls took part in. This ritual symbolized the end of winter and the Lenten weeks. Girls would dress a puppet made of straw in shabby rags and proceed to the village’s border where they either burned the puppet or threw it in water. During this whole ritual the girls would sing and mock those other girls who did not take part.
The Küküllő mente region of Transylvania follows the path of the Kis-Küküllő River from its valley to Székely-land. The Ensemble’s dance cycle originates in the neighboring villages of Magyarlapád and Lőrincréve. We first learned dances from Lőrincréve in 1996, which Magyar Kálmán, Jr. choreographed. Matyi Tábor and Zsófia Szélpál have since reworked this choreography and taught it to the Ensemble.
Members of the Ensemble had the honor of meeting musicians from Magyarlapád during their 2001 tour of Hungary and Transylvania. These musicians provided the information upon which Magdolna Temesváry, the Ensemble’s co-founder, based her costume design, which members of the Ensemble sewed themselves.
This dance cycle consists of three parts: pontozó, slow csárdás, and fast csárdás. The pontozó is a men’s dance, earning its name from each dancer’s selection of different steps and motifs – or “pont”s – to the rhythm of the music. Starting with simple leg twists and jumps, the dance builds to a virtuosic slapping finale. The csárdás-es, characterized by the men’s stomping steps, also build in tempo and energy: as the slow csárdás music quickens, the steps and figures become more complicated, finally breaking out in the fast csárdás.
The Matyó region of Hungary became urbanized quickly, paving the road for village folk customs and dance to die out. However, around the time of the Táncház, or “Dance House” Movement, folklorists revived the dances of the Matyó region. These folklorists included Károly Falvai, Sándor Timár, Tibor Vadasi, and Ferenc Zelei.
Since these people were migrant workers, their folk costumes became influenced by different clothing trends. The most well known village, Mezökövesd, neighbors and shares Matyó folklore with the villages of Szentistván and Tard. This region is known for their colorful and rich costumes, which developed from their embroidery of pillow cases.
Mezőségi dance routine
The Mezőség region is an area located in the center of Transylvania, a part of present-day Romania. Some two and a half million Hungarians live in Romania; this dance originates from mostly Hungarian villages in that region, illustrating their rich folk culture dating back several centuries. The dance includes both men’s and couples’ parts, and encompasses the whole spectrum of human emotions, containing sadness as well as happiness.
The costumes reflect a distinctly Hungarian village life, an important part of the varied cultural heritage of the Transylvanian region.
Rábaközi dance routine
Rábaközi Dances are from the southern part of the Small Plains, the Kisalföld, in the Northwest part of Hungary. The dance consists of four parts the first of which is the verbunk, or recruiting dance. The second part is referred to as the dus, a leaping dance, after which the slow and fast csárdás follow. In this western region of Hungary, which encompasses the area from the Austrian border to the Danube River, one can find mostly newer style dances, with a down-accent. This was the area most influenced by Western music and dance fashions.
The village of Rimóc, in Nógrád county, northern Hungary, is commonly accepted as the center of the Palóc people’s folk arts. The Ensemble learned this choreography on its trip to Hungary, Ukraine and Slovakia in July 2011. The costumes on display are a combination of original pieces from Rimóc, as well as pieces the Ensemble’s members made themselves. This choreography is set in the context of a village wedding, starting as the groom’s parents search for the bride. Upon finding her, the village girls invite the villagers to the reception in song, meanwhile dressing the bride in her wedding finery. A girls’ circle dance follows, after which the lads show off in the sarkantyús, or spur dance. Then the dancers pair off into couples for the slow and fast csárdás. At the end, the dancers process off the stage to the strains of the mars.
Just as Zoltán Kodály and Béla Bartók categorized their collections of folk music into old and new styles, folk dance is categorized in the same fashion. The old style of dance dates from the time when Hungarians first occupied the Carpathian Basin. However the new style is no older than three hundred years old.
This dance is from the “Sekler”, that is, the Székely region in Transylvania. This dance originates from Hungarian villages in the region and is categorized as an older style dance.
The dance includes both men’s and couples’ parts. During the dances you can hear dancers calling or chanting to each other in rhythm with the music. These calls are characteristic of Transylvania; dancers as well as onlookers participate in them. The calls refer to the dancers or to the dancing in a humorous or biting fashion.
The region of Szilágyság lies in western Transylvania near the Szamos, Berettyó, and Kraszna rivers. This area opens toward the neighboring Szatmár region, but culturally it more closely resembles the Kalotaszeg region. Typical dances in the region include the cövekelő (lads’ dance), recruiting dance, girls’ circle dance, and csárdás.