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Karlie Tipton, Editorial Assistant
Photo by STEVEN WALKER
Dance, Dance Revelation
By Karlie Tipton
October 10, 2013
Monday night, the Oklahoma Today editorial team was invited to experience the Hungarian State Folk Ensemble at the Armstrong Auditorium in Edmond. I had been forewarned that the venue would be breathtaking—a claim the Armstrong more than lived up to. Everything from the one-ton golden swans taking flight from the waters of the fountain to the 70,000 Swarovski crystals comprising the twenty chandeliers was stunning.
As I settled into my comfortable velour seat, I really had no idea what to expect.
“I’ve always wanted to visit Hungary, Romania, and the rest of the Balkans,” I informed Nathan Gunter, who sat beside me.
“Is Hungary in the Balkans?”
Four smart phones were unsheathed, and a quick Google search concluded that the answer is “no.”
“Well. It’s Balkans –adjacent,” I said.
“It’s not really at all,” Nathan noted.
Luckily, the issue was closed when the lights began to dim and the golden curtains parted. With a twirl of a skirt and an exuberant shout of “hejee!” we were off.
The Hungarian Rhapsody stunned the audience into silence from the very first notes. During the opening overture, the tinny sounds of the cimbalom—a large hammered dulcimer—reverberated from floor to ceiling throughout the room, the clarinet harmonized, and the violin produced bursts of pure, energetic flight.
And that was only the half of it.
Dressed in traditional red, green, and purple embroidered skirts, the women seemed to float just above the stage, weightlessly prancing and spinning with utmost grace.
Even more astounding was the lithe movement of the men. Despite their thick, sturdy boots and feathered caps, the male dancers leapt high into the air and threw their limbs about with the control of Olympic gymnasts.
Although the orchestra certainly didn’t need any help, the dancers often took on the role of instrumentalists, keeping the rhythm moving by stomping and slapping their boots.
By the time we reached the finale—Dances from Kukullo Region of the Székely Area of Transylvania—it took some time to process the spectacle I had just witnessed.
In America, the word “romance” typically brings to mind couples holding hands or passionately kissing on a park bench. Although this “Gypsy Romance” did feature some couples dancing, there was something much deeper being featured on the stage at the Armstrong. The dancers and musicians were indeed filled with passion, but a passion for their country, a passion for their history, and a passion for what makes them Hungarian.
As Nietzsche once wrote, “Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” But sometimes those ties are not only visible, but audible.