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Wed, 30 Jul 2014 06:44:53 EDT by admin, 86800 views
American Hungarian Folklore Centrum, NJ
Music/Folklore paper by Olson, Judith E. (all papers)
Seeing, and not Seeing, Borders: Hungarian Identity in Dance
A principal strength of the Táncház movement, revival of Hungarian village dance and music going on for the past 45 years, is that the same dances are done in the same way throughout the world. Dancers from very different backgrounds in Japan, Canada, Hungary, and Romania can dance well together, even if they have just met.
Although dances move smoothly across borders, beneath the surface lie very different ideas about how Hungarian dance relates to identity. Differing paths to modernity of the wide range of places Hungarians live mean that in some areas, the dances as common village practice were lost sooner. Furthermore, Hungarians traveling far from ancestoral homes tended to establish themselves as Hungarians, less as regional descendents. For Hungarians in Hungary or the United States, a sense of Hungarianness may be more all-encompassing than for those living in villages in Transylvania practicing the dances that used to be done socially in their own backyards. A young man in Kalotaszentkirály, Romania, told me, “Why should I do the dances from Mezöszég, I know only 6-7 figures of Mezöszégi dances and I know 200 or 300 figures of Kalotaszeg.”
How do these different attitudes express themselves in dance learning, approach to dance, and improvisation? How do differing attitudes affect seeing the dances as ours and our view of continuity with the past? What are the implications of these attitudes in terms of a sense of self as Hungarian? Our conference location, in the heartland of Transylvanian dance, facilitates useful comparisons.
Brief Professional Bio:
Judith E. Olson (M.Phil, NYU, M.M. University of Colorado) is an historical musicologist working in the area of traditional Hungarian music and dance in Romania, Hungary, and among Hungarians in the United States and Canada. She combines research in traditional settings, in Hungarian dance camps, and within revival groups with analysis and discussion of dance structure, process, and improvisation. She presents frequently at venues such as the International Council for Traditional Music, the International Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and AHEA. She performs this research and organizes táncház (dance parties) in New York City under the auspices of the American Hungarian Folklore Centrum. A secondary research area is 19th century German music and musical culture.