Dance house movement in Hungary

The dance house movement came about to transfer intangible cultural heritage, since the essence of it is to take over living cultural elements to another cultural setting at a regional, national and international level. The Hungarian method of passing on the knowledge of dancing, singing and music attached to different generations got on the national list of best practices of intangible cultural heritage in 2011.

In Hungary the traditional way of passing on cultural heritage discontinued in the 20th century. The dance house came about in the 1970s so as to preserve the elements of traditional culture and also to transplant them into everyday culture. The first dance house was organized in 1972 and the number of participants increased to several thousands in 2-3 years. The success of the movement was due to the enthusiasm of the public media, the live Szék dance traditions and the heightened support of Hungarian artists and culture professionals who regarded the initiation as one of the forms of alternative pursuit in the face of the political regime. Just like the beat movement was one of the fors of protest in the US against the Vietnam War.

Several activities emerged to supplement the dance house occasions: handcraft sessions, dance teaching for children and adults, musical instruments, handcraft workshops and camps. Institutes cropped up to connect dance houses, collecting original local dances picked up and several publications emerged. The National Dance House Meeting and Fair, which is still one of the most prominent events of the dance house movement, first started in 1982.

At present there is no weekday or weekend in Budapest without Hungarian folk dance houses combined with dance teaching organized for amateurs or professionals.


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