Dance and Music Material
The 2018 dance and music material will be from the areas of Mezőföld and Kalotaszeg.
The Kalotaszeg Region
The Kalotaszeg region extends west from Kolozsvár through the Meszes mountains to Királyhágó. In the deeper past, it was connected administratively with the Alföld, that is, with the Hungarian Plain. Today it’s customary to include the area from Körösfő to the east. The geographic boundaries are, then, Kolozsvár in the east; the northern line of the Gyalu mountains in the south; in the west, the Meszes and Bihar mountains.
About 40 settlements belong to Kalotaszeg. Some of them have a Hungarian majority, but all of them have mixed population of Hungarians and Romanians. The Hungarians of Kalotaszeg are Calvinist, except for two towns, Bács and Jegeny, which are Roman Catholic. The principal town and main market of the region is Bánffyhunyad.
Kalotaszeg is traditionally divided into three parts. The upper part, that is, Felszeg, lies at the foot of the mountains. The more well known villages are Kalotaszentkirály, Magyargyerőmonostor, and Magyarvalkó. The lower part next to the Almás stream is called the Alszeg. Kispetri, Nagyalmás, and Sztána are in this area. Nearer to Kolozsvár, along the Nádas River, there are noteworthy villages like Bogártelke, Magyarvista, and Méra. Over the course of time, the folk culture of Kalotaszeg was influenced by Kolozsvár, serving as the intellectual and economic center of the region. Because of the path of commerce established by highways as well as systematic economic integration, the Hungarian Plain also had a strong, detectable influence.
The folk dance of Kalotaszeg is a living tradition. Notable among the dance types is the legényes ‘lad’s dance’ which is the most refined, virtuoso men’s dance in the Carpathian Basin, indeed perhaps in all of Europe. The musical tradition that accompanies it is no less rich. The csárdás is a couple’s dance characterized by turning as a couple and by the turning of the woman. The szapora, as is already evident from the name, is a quick-tempo couple’s dance by which, on a relatively new dance foundation, many tunes of foreign origin (Romanian, Roma, Ruthenian) play a part. The verbunk ‘recruitment dance’ also bears mention, because its repertory of tunes has survived and has found its way chiefly into the csárdás, although, apart from a few exceptions, it hasn’t been danced in recent years.
The Mezőföld Region
The Mezőföld region bounded on the north by the Bakony, the Vértes, and the Buda mountains, in the west by the Sió, in the east by the Danube. Much of it is in Fejér County, but in the south it stretches into Tolna County. Its topography is characterized by deep valleys and by plains with loess soil. The name “Mezőföld” is a historical, geographical, ethnographic classification. The populace doesn’t use it.
In the villages, celebrations took place in the courtyard of a tavern or in a hall; out on the puszta (that is, ‘open country’), in front of the servants’ homes or in a big common kitchen. Among the dance types of the Mezőföld, the ugrós ‘jumping dance’ is the richest. They danced it solo, in couples, or in foursomes. They also danced it as a group in a circle with implements, with brooms, or with sticks crossed beneath them.
The name of the dance varied with the form it took, say, botos ‘stick dance’, üveges ‘bottle dance’, and so forth. With particular virtuosity, the üvegcsárdás ‘bottle csárdás’ was performed with a bottle on the head. If they dance figures that involve passing a cap or a kerchief under their knees, they call it the sudridrom after a nonsense line in the song that accompanies the dance.
A significant difference from neighboring regions lies in the circumstance that the verbunk ‘recruiting dance’ that begins the cycle is found only sporadically. The verbunk dances found in Decs, Sárpilis, and Foktő are among the loveliest variations of the western dialect of the improvised solo verbunk.
The uniquely rich variants of the csárdás and, above all, the friss ‘quick’ bear withness to circumstance that the csárdás has deep roots in this region and was a flourishing dance type up to the recent past.