Please meet one of the most vivid Hungarian folk dance communities in the United States of America, the MÁKVIRÁG Children Folk Dance Group, New Brunswick, NJ.
One of the oldest and most significant Hungarian communities of the United States is in New Brunswick, NJ. The active Hungarian population is associated with the Hungarian American Athletic Club (www.haac.us) where on Saturdays, parents and grandparents bring their youngsters to learn about their ethnic heritage through folk dance classes.
The folk dance group in New Brunswick, NJ was founded in 1992 by Mária Sárközi. Over the years the children’s dance group has grown significantly. Currently about 100 children participate in Mákvirág practicing not only their knowledge in folk dance and music but also their Hungarian identity. Mákvirág’s mission is to preserve Hungarian folk art by teaching traditional folk dance and music and thus strengthen the Hungarian identity of the community. Each year members of Mákvirág are introduced to a new Hungarian region, with dances, songs, folk art and customs specific to that region. An important attribute of folk culture is that it places emphasis on participation by all, experiencing something for yourself as opposed to presenting only a show on stage; so it is not passive rather it is an active, creative, hands-on art form. Folk dances aim to provide a communal experience. They play a socializing role, allowing children to practice their mother tongue, which is especially important in American Hungarian diaspora communities, and beyond that: develop a sense of rhythm, an ear for music, and better physical coordination. With folk dance it is not the past that Mákvirág wants to bring back, rather it is to have these artistic and cultural forms serve them today.
Children in Mákvirág are grouped into four divisions based on their age and dance skill level. Classes are led by teachers with several years of teaching and performing experience. They perform frequently at local community and cultural events and most of the time they are accompanied by live folk music provided by local young musicians.
(With thanks to Nagy Ildikó for this introduction)