Eszterlánc Hungarian Folk Ensemble
The beautiful Sarkoz region in Southwest Hungary is known for its mild climate, its thermal baths, and its stunning vistas of the river Danube as it meanders through fertile plains. It’s also home to the richest variety of dance styles of any of the Danube regions, with many unique variations on traditional styles.
For this year’s Festival, Eszterlanc Hungarian Folk Ensemble will perform a Sárközi Ugrós, a jumping dance from Sarkoz. Flirtatious young men and women try to impress each other with difficult maneuvers. The young women dance in circles while balancing bottles on their heads and singing love songs. The young men respond with vigorous jumping while twirling five-foot long shepherd’s sticks. In the final section, the groups dance for each other, and the young dancers partner off.
The women’s costume is specific to the village of Decs, known for its longstanding excellence in folkloric arts. The men’s costume is also traditional to the Sarkoz region.This piece is dedicated by the company to Katalin Persik Lazar, its choreographer. Katalin chose this as her first piece to appear at the Festival because of its importance to the Hungarian traditional dance revival movement: in the 1970s and 80s, it was commonly taught in Hungary because it is simple to learn and joyful to perform.
Title: Traditional Dance Cycle from the Village of Magyarszovát Hungarians are said to "party hard in their
sorrow" and drinking often fuels the fun. Individual dancers call out spontaneously, and together, the
women's voices shout traditional encouragements, upbeat and suggestive. They
promise special favors to musicians who keep playing; they call to the single
men to show their stuff; they shout how "as the star shines on the
mountaintop" they forgive their cheating lovers because they are not so
Hungarians are said to "party hard in their sorrow" and drinking often fuels the fun. Individual dancers call out spontaneously, and together, the women's voices shout traditional encouragements, upbeat and suggestive. They promise special favors to musicians who keep playing; they call to the single men to show their stuff; they shout how "as the star shines on the mountaintop" they forgive their cheating lovers because they are not so innocent themselves.Eszterlánc learned the dances in the Bay Area from Hungarian Master Dancer Laszlo Dioszegi. These are traditional Hungarian social dances that originated in village celebrations—harvests, weddings, birthdays, and coming of age. Hungarian dance—as well as Hungarian language and other traditions—was preserved in remote regions of Transylvania. The small village of Magyarszovát has preserved its unique turning dance—shown in this cycle—since the sixteenth century. The dancer’s costumes and jewelry are also based on Magyarszovát tradition as well as the music. The soloist and visiting guest artist from Hungary, Levente Varadi, worked with Ezsterlánc as educator and mentor.
TITLE: Az Utolsó Tánc Hajnalban (The Last Dance at Dawn)
It’s about time to go home
Then the dancers present the verbunk, or recruiting dance; the csárdás, a traditional Hungarian partner dance; and the szapora, or swift couple's dance. Finally, the young men improvise the legenyes, or lad’s dances, vying to impress the girls. The young women spin and shout encouragement to the dancers. As dawn approaches, the celebration ends, as relatives and close friends wander off to their beds.
Some of Eszterlánc's costumes (generously lent by Katalin Persik Lázár) are antiques from the village of Méra, where girls continue to bead and embroider elaborate clothing for their dowries. Hungarian folk music is similarly embellished, and is usually performed by a three-piece band, with violin, three-string viola (brácsa), and bass. The musicians are the Forrás Band from Vancouver and Seattle, featuring lead violinist László Orbán, formerly of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble; Lajos Miklós, who has researched Hungarian folk arts extensively in Transylvania; and Mike Pratt, an accomplished bassist and saxophonist. The singers are the Bay Area musical duet, Kövirág.
Eszterlánc was also honored to present two guest dancers. Internationally acclaimed dancer and scholar from Hungary, László Diószegi serves as Historian & Senior Research Fellow at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and choreographer of the Hungarian Dance Academy. He has choreographed dances for the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, the Honvéd, and the Béla Bartók Dance Ensembles. The second guest dancer is Gergő Csiszár from Vancouver, BC. Gergő studied Hungarian dance in the Forrás Folk Ensemble of Vancouver, in Hungary, and in Transylvania. He is an accomplished author, dancer, and advocate of Hungarian folk arts.