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Hungarian expats dance for Ukraine

Hungarian expats dance for Ukraine

Összetartozás Hungarian Folk Dance Ensemble looks forward to raising money for displaced Ukrainians

As the world watches the invasion of Ukraine with horror, a regional ethnic dance troupe is stepping up to assist. Összetartozás Hungarian Folk Dance Ensemble performs at the Arden Theatre on Friday, March 18, with all proceeds to be donated to aid and support the people of Ukraine.

“A part of Ukraine has a lot of Hungarian people. It’s a border country. Many dancers and myself have personal connections to them. We know what is going on first-hand and we would like to send money. These people definitely need our help,” said Sandor Vörös, artistic director of Edmonton’s Csárdás Hungarian Folkdance Ensemble.

Newly created, Összetartozás is the brainchild of Sandor Vörös. He brings together 26 Hungarian folk dancers from across Canada to perform Trianon 100.

The one-hour dance special telescopes 150 years of Hungarian history focusing on five major events. It starts with Hungary’s 1848 Revolution and Freedom Fight followed by the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the 1956 Revolution against Soviet oppression, the forced migrations to other lands, resettlement, and new life.

One of the most scarring historical events was the 1920 Treaty of Trianon immediately following the First World War. The post-war treaty removed two-thirds of Hungary’s territories, splitting them between Slovakia, Austria, Yugoslavia, and Romania.

As part of the Hungarian diaspora, Vörös recalls his grandmother telling him that in her town, the border ran down a main street and the family could see the Serbian border 10 kilometres away.

“It was a shock. People could only see their families through a fence. Now borders are open, but many families were separated and suffered a great deal because of the treaty.”

Several years ago, the Hungarian National Assembly marked 2020 as the Year of National Unity. In the spirit of international togetherness, Hungarian dance troupes from across Canada joined forces to present a composition involving dance, music, and poetry, said Vörös.

He hired Budapest choreographers Ignac Kadar and Anett Nagypal, a couple whose choreography, teaching workshops, dance camps, and festival works are well known throughout the Hungarian dance circuit.

The duo blended a variety of graceful moves with dazzling, high-energy steps. Representing various regions in Hungary, the choreography combines circle dances, courting dances, jumping dances, men’s solo dances, and freestyle dances.

Összetartozás began practicing for a national tour in February 2020. But their hopes were dashed in March when all theatres across the country went dark due to COVID. With the pandemic hopefully in the rear-view mirror, Vörös is resurrecting Összetartozás to complete the original national tour.

This time, the performance is not only an entertaining reflection of one country’s past, it is also a call to assist Ukraine while it undergoes bombardment as 1.5 million plus refugees seek safety in neighbouring countries.

As of Monday, March 7, more than 104,000 refugees had arrived in Hungary. The United Nations predicts that 250,000 refugees will arrive in Hungary by the end of the war.

Close to 400,000,00 Hungarian florints ($1,408,099 Cdn) have been raised. Proceeds from the dance will be donated to Hungary’s Jónak lenni jó, a support organization, with a name that means, “to be good is good.”

Doors open at 6 p.m. Dance starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at the Arden box office at 780-459-1542 or online at www.stalbert.ca/exp/arden/.

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