Thursday, November 14, 2013

Speaking the language of Hungarian folk dance

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By Tibor Horváth, Former Dancer with Hungarian State Folk Ensemble

My passion for Hungarian folk dance can be attributed largely to two factors: my parents, and my dance instructors. My parents, because they passed on to me a love of Hungary and things Hungarian, and my dance instructors, because they taught me the language of Hungarian folk dance.

Sándor Timár, one of the founders of the Hungarian táncház or “dance-house” movement, believed that the ability to learn Hungarian folk dance was comparable to learning a foreign language. First, you learn words, then phrases, then whole sentences. Once fluent, you can construct these sentences in any manner to express yourself. Such was the method by which I learned the dances of Hungary and Hungarians in Transylvania.

Tibor Horvath, Hungarian Folk DancerI grew up in Seattle, Washington, to parents who had emigrated from Hungary, and began dancing in my early teens with the local Hungarian dance group. While we learned choreographies to perform, the goal of the instructors in my group was to learn the dances inside and out, allowing us to dance freestyle, just as these dances were originally danced in the villages. In some places, most notably among Hungarians in Transylvania, they are still danced today at celebrations and village events.

Learning Hungarian folk dances allowed me an avenue to connect with my heritage. Each region has distinct costumes and step-work associated with it. The music, as collected by greats such as Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály, shows an amazing diversity from region to region. The folk costumes are equally diverse, and in some cases, are covered in intricate beadwork or embroidery. The men’s dances, in particular, demonstrate a virtuosity of complicated slapping and footwork that is not found elsewhere. I feel I learned more about the customs and people of Hungary through dance than I could have in any other way.

In the fall of 1990, following a tour of Croatia with a Seattle-area Croatian group with which I also performed, I travelled to Hungary to study on a scholarship with a university in Budapest. Shortly after arriving, I was afforded the opportunity to audition for the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble, then under the artistic direction of Sándor Timár. As nervous as I was, I was surprised that I didn’t fail the audition. Being the first foreign-born Hungarian to be awarded a contract, I felt extremely honored.

The next two years were difficult, but also rewarding. I had arranged to take my university classes in the evening, allowing me to go to rehearsal five days a week, from early morning to mid-afternoon. On days we had performances, I would leave class early and race back to the theater in time for group warm-ups and preparations before show time.

I still dance today, and especially enjoy dancing at táncház parties. The band plays cycles from different regions, and everyone dances that particular region’s dance freestyle, improvising motifs and footwork based on the appropriate “vocabulary” of that region. While I believe there is always more to learn, I consider myself to be quite fluent in the language of Hungarian folk dances.

I was excited to learn that the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble would be performing in Chicago at the Auditorium Theater. It gives me an opportunity to see some friends that still are with the company, but more importantly, it gives a chance for others to see the beauty and majesty of Hungarian folk dance. From the military-style “verbunk” or men’s recruiting dances, to the dizzying spinning of the women in many couples’ dances, the audience will see the variety of Hungarian dance and appreciate the years of training and hours of practice put in by each dancer. From the moment the dancers burst onto the stage, the audience will be treated to the sights and sounds of rural village life presented in a dazzling fashion. In so, they will begin to recognize the language of Hungarian folk dancing. 


Tibor Horváth has performed Hungarian folk dance for nearly thirty years in front of audiences in the Pacific Northwest, California, western Canada, and Hungary. His tours with the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble also allowed him to perform on stages across Europe. He has taught Hungarian dances to dancers and aficionados, both beginners and advanced dancers. A recent transplant to Chicago, he is currently dancing with the Borozda Hungarian Ensemble based in Norridge, IL.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Arts: A Love that will Last a Lifetime

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By Kelly Saroff, Auditorium Theatre Intern

Ever since I was five years old tagging along to my sister’s piano lessons, I have been intrigued by the arts. For almost as long, I have enjoyed organizing, scheduling, and communicating with others to make initiatives successful. So when I discovered Arts Administration as a career option, I was hooked.

Kelly, Auditorium Theatre Intern
Music has always been my passion. I started playing piano in elementary school, but it was my dream to play flute. The instrument fascinated me, and I wanted to be able to produce its characteristically beautiful, singing sound. I was so excited when I entered the band program in sixth grade and was able to pick up the flute for the first time. It wasn’t quite the magical experience I had hoped for—in fact, it took me several weeks before I could actually make a sound on the instrument! However, I kept working through middle and high school and eventually progressed to making the District and All-State Bands as well as participating in elite area youth ensembles. I attended a summer intensive music festival, where I began to seriously consider music as a career. I grew in my skills as a performer and musician, and I learned to love music in an entirely new way.

This experience inspired me to pursue a degree in Flute Performance at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University. I soon discovered that while I loved performing on the flute, I also enjoyed being active in student groups on campus. As the former president of my sorority and a current vice president for the Panhellenic Association, I have found that I really enjoy working with others and being involved in the administrative or management aspects of an organization. These interests led me to explore the field of Arts Administration and eventually pursue a minor in Arts Administration along with my degree in Performance.

I have previously held Arts Administration internships at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, South Arts, and The Atlanta Opera. All three internships gave me different opportunities in the broader field of Arts Administration, and all of them confirmed my interest in Arts Administration as a career path. I am thrilled to be working at the Auditorium Theatre, where I am getting hands-on field experience at a very well-established arts organization in the heart of Chicago. I have already had the opportunity to assist with final preparations as well as attend two of the Auditorium Theatre’s major events: The Devil’s Ball and the Gala. I am excited to see what else my internship has in store as I learn about Development in a theatre setting.

My love for flute, music, and the arts is one that will last a lifetime. Combining my skills and my different interests has led me to expand my field experience through an internship at the Auditorium Theatre. As a college senior, I look toward the future as an opportunity to explore my love for the arts in a career in Arts Administration.

Click HERE to learn about internship opportunities at the Auditorium Theatre.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From Young Passions to Big City Ambitions

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By Amber Snearl, Marketing Intern 

Amber, Auditorium Theatre Marketing Intern
Amber Snearl, Marketing Intern
Wearing a nice dress, putting on my best hosiery, and pulling my hair back so nicely that I looked as good as those on stage was a routine as a child. Being a part of the audience was just as important to me as being on stage was to many performers. You see, I’ve always been a fan of the theatre and have utilized every chance that I had to be in attendance at shows. Growing up in the city of St. Louis led to great opportunities for me to attend live theatre events. Between attending Shakespeare in the Park every summer and seeing live musicals at the Fox Theatre on a regular, I was always able to get my dose of theatre just when I needed it.

As an elementary student, I was very musically inclined; I played the trombone for three years and even worked my way into the school’s jazz band by the time I was in the sixth grade! Each chance that I got, I was playing in a talent show, being the supporting sound to a choir performance or even writing my own tune to show to my instructor.

While those years were fun, it wasn’t until I began my transition into middle school that I realized I no longer had a passion for being in the shows as much as wanting to know what went into producing them. As years passed I slowly came to the realization that I was more of a behind-the-scenes kind of girl! Marketing seemed to be right up my alley and I began to gear my education towards that while making it my major at Roosevelt University.

Diving into the major related courses is what has really gotten me inspired to market! It was Business Communications, BCOM 301, to be exact that opened my eyes to all that I could do with a degree in Marketing. I was able to create visual ads and draw up plans that would allow for a product or company to be exposed to the world. I got some kind of rush out of those projects and my inspiration and creativity just got flowing and hasn’t stopped since! I’m glad that it hasn’t, seeing as I have landed an internship with the wonderfully historic Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Within my first weeks already, I have been exposed to wonderful theatre. Seeing Ballet West perform The Sleeping Beauty in Roosevelt’s very own Historic Landmark Theatre has been wonderful and has shown promise that I will enjoy my time here.

Being here has allowed for that sweet memory of my childhood to spring back into the present while mixing my strong interest in Marketing all into one great experience. Being hired to intern here has not only helped me to gain a vision of what a possible career path could be like, but it has allowed for me to be back in the atmosphere of something that I have always enjoyed, and that is the theatre!

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