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      CSARDAS! in Sarasota, FL
    By Erika Borsos
    Posted on: 16th January, 2004, By: Webmaster

    "CSARDAS! Tango of the East" folk-dance and music production played for an audience of 1,300 (filled to capacity) large circus tent on the Sarasota Bayfront. The "tanc-haz" theme which opened and ended the show . . . was a folk-enthusiast's "dream-come-true"! Highly energetic and fresh 20+ year old couples twirled and flirted to the music of a live folk-band consisting of Peter Arendas, Kalman Balogh (on the cimbalom), Jozsef Bartok, Almos Gaspar, Laszlo Kelemen, Peter Mako, and Istvan Papp (violin). Never having been to a "real" tanc-haz in Budapest, I was thrilled to have experienced it (vicariously).

    Regional folk customs and preparation for the wedding of a young dancing couple were the artistic themes which underscored and maintained the continuity of the show. The music and dances of many regions of Hungary and the Carpathian Basin were demonstrated with utmost skill and technique. Traditional dances and folk customs were demonstrated under the headings of "Magic Spells", "Men's Dance Competition", "The Ball", a "Love Duet", "Abduction of the Bride" and "Quest for the Bride", "Hostage Bride", the "Duel", the "Love Duet" and "Wedding Celebration".

    A folk-art decorated hope chest was brought forth --- from this a male dancer selected a wedding headdress and a groom's well-decorated hat. He placed each on a selected 'bride' and 'groom'. This is how the show began . . . and continued with dances which depicted many elements of folk-culture: wine poured from wooden vats, cauldrons smoking on the Great Plains, a leather whip cracking while the men danced, to the bottle dances performed by young girls (complete with delicately balanced bottles of wine on their heads). The show concluded with the dance-master demonstrating agile, intricate, and indescribable boot-slapping and kicks, while the couples danced the Csardas from Mezoseg with individualized styling and improvisation . . . the "Tanc-haz" (and show) ended. It was truly a breath-taking performance due to the high-energy dances, out-standing costumes, artistic use of folk-culture and tradition and the authentic live-music played by some of the *best* young artists in Hungary.

    I will conclude with some quotes from "Notes on the Dance" written by Kalman Dreisziger, who is recognized as an expert researcher and choreographer of Hungarain folkdance. "The dances of the Hungarians, Slovaks, Transylvanians, Romanians, Gypsies, and the Polish highlanders are more remarkable for their similarities than their differences. . . . What are the characteristics of this dance dialect? The first and most important is improvisation. The dancers of Eastern/Central Europe do not dance a set sequence or pattern (in the manner of American square dancers, Western European contra dancers or Balkan line and circle dancers, for example, but instead make up their moves to the music and within the constraints of local tradition. . . .

    The second characteristic of the Central European dance style is that it is predominanntly male-centric. Competitive male dance has long historical roots in the region, reaching back to military recruiting dances (verbunk), stick and sword dances and even victory celebration dances. . . . Thirdly, Central European dancers make full use of all the rhythmic opportunities. From finger-snapping through clapping, stomping, and heel-clicking, a wide variety of accompaniments accent the dance. Transylvanian Romanians and Hungarians also ornament their dancing with shouts and rhymes. But perhaps the most characteristic rhythmic element in this area is boot-slapping. . .

    The cross-cultural influences of Romanians, Hungarians, Gypsies living and dancing together have resulted in complex, vibrant, rich dance styles that have become the inspiration for an amazing urban revival movement in Hungary. . . . Today the movement has outgrown Hungary, and there are regular Tanchaz sessions not only in Western Europe but also in the U.S.A. and even in Japan. . . ." I highly recommend you see "CSARDAS! Tango of the East" if it comes to your area. Erika
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