“The Hungarian State Folk Ensemble is the national folklore dance company of Hungary, headquartered in Budapest, founded in 1951,” said senior producer Andrew Grossman. “It is considered one of the greatest folkloric companies in the world. The company has toured throughout Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Russia and both North and South America.”
The purpose of the Ensemble is to display and preserve their rich heritage through traditional means of Hungarian music.
“The company represents the extraordinary culture of the Hungarian people in both dance and music and is representative of the Eastern European and Western European merging of these two cultures,” said Grossman.
As common with many European countries, Hungary experienced much turmoil and reform throughout its history. “Hungarian Rhapsody” prefers to gloss over the various hardships their country endured and educate audiences of the vital contributions Hungarian folklore contributed to Western culture. In a tremendous way, it praises the valor of the ancient Hungarian people to express joy and communion through their native music despite suppression, violence and tribulation.
“Hungarian Rhapsody” is divided into three parts, which varies from the medieval era to the traditional period of 19th Century Hungary. Between the wide gape of time, little is lost in the overall style of Hungarian dance and music. Both eras are almost identical.
The traditional Hungarian dance style is high energy complete with enough jumps and kicks to keep the attention of the average audience member.
The dancers wore costumes representative of traditional Hungarian attire. The women wore elaborate, colorful dresses embroidered with bells and buttons while male dancers’ costumes consisted of long boots, feather hats and vests.
Accompanying the array of dancers and singers was the “Gipsy Orchestra” who played traditional Hungarian instruments such as the cello, tambourine, hurdy-gurdy and the hammered dulcimer. The orchestra performed several solo spots apart from providing accompaniment to the throng of dancers.
While much of the crowd appeared to have prior knowledge of the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble due to enthusiastic ovation, some were experiencing the group for the first time.
“I didn’t know much about the production before I came tonight other than it was highly esteemed,” said audience member Paula Koch. “I must say that I was entertained by what I watched.”