Genevieve PM Roy
The Hungarian State Folk EnsembleLast Tuesday, the 40 members of The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble brought their rhythmic magic for the first time to Montreal’s La Place des Arts.
The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble
Last Tuesday, the 40 members of The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble brought their rhythmic magic for the first time to Montreal’s La Place des Arts. Considered by many to be one of the best folkloric dance ensembles in the world, the company was founded with the purpose of collecting, preserving and presenting the treasures of Hungarian folklore.
On-stage adaptations of Hungarian folklore are often “stagelike” in presentation; however improvisation is at the heart of Hungarian dancing. The most important stylistic feature of the folk dance is the unusually large amount of personal improvisation. For the peasant dances, there are no set rules; the dancer constructs his steps according to the momentum of his feelings and only enthusiasm sets his or her limit!
Its varied repertoire has made the HSFE one of the most widely performing ensembles of the world. Beside the educational presentation of dances, the company‘s repertoire features authentic performances as well as contemporary ones. The traditional performances give a truthful presentation of the historical relations in traditional life, while the dance shows, use folklore as language to communicate new messages and tales to its audience.
The 40 dancers, dressed impeccably in colorful traditional costumes, could be noted for their exceptionally well developed sense of rhythm. The Csárdás, undoubtedly the most popular and important dance in the Hungarian repertoire, was performed brilliantly with the dancers promptly swirling round two or three times and then breaking away and recommencing the pantomime as before... I loved the constant playful and alluring release of the partners throughout the dance.
A unique Broom Dance was performed and took me quite by surprise ( as well as pleasing several of the younger crowd members !) as the male cast put their brooms through crouching, tripping and almost flying movements on stage. I was equally fascinated by the lyricism of the women’s movements, the virtuosic steps of the couple’s dance and the acrobatic maneuvers performed deftly by the male dancers whose feet movement darted brilliantly across the floor in a blur of vivid colors.
Violin, bass, clarinet and flute were joined by lesser known instruments such as the concert cimbalom (hammered dulcimer) and percussive cello. I particularly liked the tribute to Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsodies, performed in a traditional gypsy band style.
Intellectually and emotionally engaging as well as visually stimulating, the 40 dancers and musicians of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble combined intricate elements of music, movement and creative staging to deliver a brilliant two hour long performance that left most of the audience palpitating with the tumultuous, fiery rhythms of the accompanying gypsy band.
The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble is currently completing a US- Canada tour.
Please consult their main website for more information on up-coming performances.