The 23rd National Solo Folk Dance Competition was held on January 10th, 2017 in Békescsaba, Hungary. The jury gave 21 kinds of awards to outstanding dancers – including the coveted “golden pearl” and “golden spurs” awards for excellence as a folk solo dancer. Bacsó Lilla was named best all-around women’s dancer and Németh Antal as best all-round men’s dancer. See list in Hungarian for names of all winners.
Collecting folk song and music in Transylvania in the 1970s in a Trabant. This account tells of first going to Kallós Zoltán in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca) for guidance and advice on where to go and who to look for. Also touching on the political atmosphere of the time, we read about meeting traditional musicians and dancers in the villages and regions Kallós sent them to: Gyimes, Moldavia, Vajdakamarás/ Vaida-Cămăraș, Szék/Sic, where the narrator saw “traditional dance and costume in its natural environment for the first time – and realized that dance had its own strict order and system – even though [he’d] been ‘dancing’ in Szeged University’s Folk Dance Group for 2–3 years....” By Simoncsics János.
New Publication: Jávorszky Béla Szilárd: SEBŐ 70 (includes CD). Kossuth Kiadó, Budapest 2017. ISBN: 9789630987103. “Sebő 70” is a book celebrating Sebő Ferenc and his life’s work as a musician, instigator, key figure and moving force of the dance house movement, folk music researcher and university professor. Sebő stated at the beginning of the 1970s that... “we would like to learn the peasant folk culture that gave a framework and form of expression for village folks – so we can create a city folk music, that could become the basis for a city community and form of expression for young people...”.
The First Festival of Western European Hungarian Folk Dance Groups was held November 25–27, 2016 in Stuttgart, Germany. Seven Hungarian dance groups from Germany, Switzerland and France attended and performed. Live music was provided by Juhász Band and Kolompos Ensemble. There were performances, jury discussion, sessions for ensemble directors, dance houses. Szűcs Gábor and Urbán Mária directors of the Jászság Ensemble (Jászberény, Hungary) provided professional support, consultation and feedback for participating groups. Report by Hortobágyi Ivett.
Interviews with members of Barozda Ensemble: Barozda formed in the 1970s in Transylvania. They were active there until the ensemble members under pressure from the Romanian authorities left Romania in the late 1980s to relocate in Hungary and Western Europe. Barozda stayed together, playing when they could, both abroad and after 1989 in Tranyslvania. They gave a 40th anniversary concert in October of 2016 in Kolozsvár/Cluj-Napoca, Romania. The band was more than instrumental in starting the dance house movement in Transylvania in the second half of the 1970s. By Péterbencze Anikó.
Bartók, Kodály and 2 Szokolays. This is a music review which starts out from a concert of “contemporary folk music” that was performed at the Academy of Music in Budapest on April 12, 2016 featuring Rost Andrea (voice), Csík János (voice), Szokolay Balázs (piano), Szokolay Dongó Balázs (flute, bagpipe), Havasréti Pál (hurdy-gurdy, hit cello), and the Szent Efrém Men’s Choir (Dir: Bubnó Tamás). Includes commentary on recent work of Szokolay Dongó Balázs (saxophonist, flute and bagpipe player) who comes from folk music, but is experimenting with other formations and concerts pairing Hungarian folk music artists with classical artists and forms. By Kiss Ferenc.
Count Batthyány Gyula (1887–1959)’s drawings from Márianosztra Prison. Batthyány was a Hungarian painter and graphic artist. His works are in the collections of the Hungarian National Gallery and other museums around the world. Amongst the chaos of the communist regime following WWII, Batthyány was imprisoned for 3 years, but was permitted to draw and paint while there. Only recently an album of his drawings from that time came to light and was exhibited at the Kieselbach Gallery in Budapest in 2015. By Molnos Péter.
In December 2016, the Páll family, active traditional potters of the Transylvanian village of Korond / Corund received the Hungarian Heritage Award. In 2011 Páll Agoston of the same family received the Intangible Cultural Heritage award also in recognition of his work as a traditional Transylvanian potter. Several generations of the Páll family have been well-known both locally and abroad for their beautiful pottery. Printed here is the laudation by Szatmári Ferenc, given at the December 2016 award ceremony.
Novák Ferenc Tata discusses Hungary’s pension for professional dancers. Since 2012 only professional ballet dancers from 4 professional ensembles receive the Hungarian state pension after 25 years of performing on stage. There is presently action to change the law to include dancers from 3 professional folk dance ensembles and Budapest’s Operetta Theatre who have performed for 25 years. Novák also mentions the need for dance critics that can write intelligently about folk dance. By Szentei Anna (first published in: Magyar Demokrata, 2016 December 7.)
Epiphany in Kalofer, Bulgaria. Today Bulgarians in Kalofer celebrate the Epiphany (aka: 12th day, January 6th). The custom involves bagpipe and tapan (drum) and a line of men dressed in local traditional costume in the early morning. The men are singing. A cross is dropped into the icy water of the Tundzsa River by the local priest. It is retrieved and given to a young boy. Then the men dance the horo in the water. This event is well attended by the local media and population and has a large festival atmosphere. This year Hungarian ethnographer Juhász Katalin attended and reports on the festival.
2017 is the year of Saint László (1040–1095) – marking the 940th anniversary of the coronation of Hungary’s King László I. (aka: Ladislaus I, etc.) and the 825th anniversary of his sainthood. By Kóka Rozália.