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Local Dance as Knowledge, Practice and Heritage
2014. November 16.


Local Dance as Knowledge, Practice and Heritage

A Choremundus Symposium

(Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in Dance Knowledge, Practice, and Heritage)


Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for Humanities, Institute of Musicology

Szeged University, Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology


The Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute for Musicology, Bartók-Room (Papers), Haydn-Room (Workshops)

H-1014 Budapest, Táncsics Mihály utca 7.


21st-23rd of November, 2014.


November 21, Friday

10-12 a.m. Opening

Pál Richter: Greeting.

Balázs Borsos: Institutions of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology in Hungary.

Ágnes Fülemile: Representations of the Hungarian Folk Art and Folk Dance Abroad.

12-14 p.m. Lunch Break

14-15 p.m. Workshop

Zoltán Farkas „Batyu": Basic techniques of the Csárdás in Kalotaszeg-region, Transylvania.

16-17 p.m. Papers by Choreomundus Students

Shamo Sackey: Klama Fiemi: Possession Dances and Clans.

George Kitaka: Secularisation of Mwaga/Kadodi; a Circumcision Ritual Dance of the Bagisu of Eastern Uganda: a Comparison of the Dance within and outside the Ritual Context.

Aray Rakhimzhanova: Kara Zhorga is a meaningful Dance Practice within Kazakh Diaspora in China.

November 22, Saturday

10-11 a.m. Keynote lecture

Anya Peterson Royce: Anthropologies of Dance and Movement: Transformations and Continuities.

11-12 a.m. Papers by Choreomundus Students

Amaka Igbonezim: Identity Politics in the Staging of Traditional Dances of Akwa-Ibom state Nigeria by the State Dance Troupe.

Oluwadamilare Adeyeri: In search of Bàtá: Cultural Products in Diaspora.

Yassmin Foster: How can "Black Dance" be made Valid and Independent from the wider Choreology?

12-14 p.m. Lunch Break

14-16 p.m. Workshops

Péter Lévai: Motif Development Based Folk Dance Improvisation.

Calin Orza: A Choreoraphic Analysis of Improvized Man Dances from Örkő, Transylvania.

16-17 p.m. Break

17-19 p.m. Papers

Shann Rann Chuah: Potency of Dance Form Analysis: Decoding a (Secret) Tibetan Lama Dance.

Bryan Levina Viray: (Im)Possibility of Transcribing Putong/Tubong, a Ritual Performance in Marinduque, Philippines.

Volha Sasnouskaya: ‘Belarusian Vase' Gymnastic Performance at the Independence Day Parade in Minsk: the Spectacle of Power and Reproduction of the Soviet Discourse.

Jeremy Carter-Gordon: Intersubjective Discourse and Adjudication in Dance: Aesthetic Mapping of Judgeing at the Dancing England Rapper Tournament.

Filip Petkovski: Different Approaches in Staging Folk Dance in the National Ensemble of Folk Dances and Songs of Macedonia - Tanec.

November 23, Sunday

10-12.30 a.m. Papers

Anna Székely: Connections among Dancers: Hungarian Folk Dance Camps in Transylvania.

Dóra Kovács: "Women's view" - Analysis and Interpretation of Couple Dance in Magyarózd, Transylvania.

Barnabás Manó Kukár: "How it's made": Archive Film Digitization in HAS RCH Institue of Musicology.

Vivien Szőnyi: The Effect of the Hungarian Dance House Movement on the Moldavian Csángó Dance Culture.

Csaba J. Varga: Folk Dance Knowledge Transmission: the Case of Legényes.

12.30-14 p.m. Lunch Break

14-16.30 p.m. Papers

Diana Teresa Gutierrez: Diverse Experiences in the Transmission of Traditional Dances with Children in France and Colombia.

Kinga Szemessy: GAGA - Transmission of a Movement Language and its (imagined) Community.

Signa Schiavo-Campo: Expression Primitive: Cosmology, Embodied Practice and Bodily Experience.


Amaka Igbonezim (Nigeria)

Identity Politics in the Staging of Traditional Dances of Akwa-Ibom state Nigeria by the State Dance Troupe

This research aims at investigating the politics of identity (re)presentation with dance as a tool for identity construction and representation in multi-ethnic societies and the process of codification, construction and negotiation of identities through bodily movements in such societies. A central research question asked is - how does the State dance troupe construct its State dance that represents the State on all levels taking into consideration its diverse ethnicities and the intervention of government and politics of power? At the end of this research, I would like to show how identity is constructed in a heterogeneous fashion with power and status relations through dance.

Keywords: Power, Status relations, Identity, Ethnicities, State, State dance troupe, Choreography, Politics, State dance, Dance identity, (Re)presentation.

Anna Székely (Hungary)

Connections among Dancers: Hungarian Folk Dance Camps in Transylvania

The research focuses on the Hungarian folk dance campers' social and emotional connections with the Transylvanian village dancers in three different folk dance camps, located in Transylvania. We can distinguish two different dancers during the fieldwork; one group of people are from Hungary, the campers, ‘visitors' who are in the camps to acquire some knowledge of the given dances and the other dancers, the Transylvanian villagers who own this knowledge of the particular dances. The question that this research would like to raise is, how the older village dancers effort on the Hungarian campers and dancers. What are they perception due to the meeting with these older dancers in the camps and in general? My theory is that the people from the villages are considered as heroes, stars or celebrities within the Hungarian dancers' community. The aim of the research is to discover the social engagements and emotional bounds with the Transylvanian village dancers. The used sources are the notes through observations and participations on the field, interviews, video and audio recordings.

Aray Rakhimzhanova (Kazakhstan)

Kara Zhorga is a Meaningful Dance Practice within Kazakh Diaspora in China

During the last few years, debate has arisen in Kazakhstan about the origin of the dance Kara Zhorga. Some consider it as a Kazakh expression of national identity; others think that the dance was invented by Kazakhs residing in China and has no relations to the Kazakh folk dance repertoire. The reason for this opinion is that during the time of Soviets Kara Zhorga was rarely practiced by the community in Kazakhstan as social dance even though it had been staged in the late 1930s and continued to be performed till the beginning of 1950s. The revival of Kara Zhorga and the recent rise of its popularity in Kazakhstan are usually associated with the repatriation of Kazakhs from China. Kazakhs residing in China are the descendants of those who fled from the massacre executed by Red Army in the territory of Kazakhstan after Russian Revolution of 1917. Today they are cultural minority who strongly retain their connections with their homeland - Kazakhstan through continuous practicing their traditions, including the dance Kara Zhorga.  Very often diaspora communities use the dance as a vehicle to express themselves to outsiders and to gain certain privileges or defend certain rights that they feel are legitimate. Kara Zhorga might serve for the same purposes within Kazakh diaspora in China. Dissertation should disclose the understanding of the dance by community members and its impact on the way of practicing it. I assume that the analysis and interpretations of  materials from the fieldwork which I have done in Xinjian-Uighur Autonomous region, Ili Kazakh Prefecture, Altai county, China will shed new light on the ongoing discussions about Kara Zhorga and open new opportunities to tackle Kara Zhorga related issues.

Barnabás Manó Kukár (Hungary)

„How it's made": archive film digitization in HAS RCH Institue of Musicology

My presentation is show the film digitization and restoration process in HAS RCH Institute of Musicology.  I will present the Gonden Eye filmscanner in work, film cleaning with Phoenix restoration software and talk of the utility of archive film digitization. The presentation contains video clips to.

Bryan Levina-Viray (Philippines)

(Im)Possibility of Transcribing Putong/Tubong, a Ritual Performance in Marinduque, Philippines

This presentation will deal with the processes involved in describing and analysing in detail a ritual performance or realisation of Tubong/Putong, borrowing Giurchescu and Kroschlova's syllabus for analysing dance structures and employing partitura/score analysis and simple Laban analysis. Putong is a coronation ritual practiced on the island Marinduque, located in the southern Tagalog region of the Philippines.  It is performed by the ,manunubongs' before a ,punsyon' (celebrant or honouree), together with the invited ,bisita' (guests).

As a section of my ongoing master's thesis, I ask how do the (1) embodied or mental level, (2) vocal and musical level, and (3) gestural and kinetic level, as components of ritual knowledge, inter/cross-sect bodily, in a specific performance or realisation? While answering this question, I propose that Putong as a ritual has multi-modal or multi-level knowledge which carry its meaning and function. Furthermore, I will attempt to answer how the symbolic meanings and social functions are expressed in a section or phrase of a performance. Is it through the vocal chant? musical effects? gestures and kinetic movements? both levels? or all levels?

Keywords: coronation ritual in the Philippines, embodied knowledge, ritual as knowledge, prescription and transcription of ritual-dance

Csaba J. Varga (Romania)

Folk Dance Knowledge Transmission: the Case of Legényes

My dissertation deals with the traditional dance culture of the Kalotaszeg region of Transylvania, with a special emphasis on the Kalotaszeg lad's dance (legényes), known for having, among all Transylvanian improvised individual dances, the richest formal repertoire. It aims at giving the reader a comprehensive picture of the evolutions that lead to the present form of these dances, mostly by studying the transmission process of the legényes. I would like to start my investigation from the point when traditional dances started to be artificially re-taught, in replacement of the good old imitative method used by our ancestors until the first half of the 20th century, as long as the young kept learning the dances by imitation of the elderly.

My objective is to examine and compare the processes of transmission of the legényes, taking account of the events where dancers can learn and practice the dance. The analysis shall be based on such events and sources as weekly or monthly meetings of dance groups, "dance house" evenings (táncház), and dance camps generally organized on an annual basis, but also on archival footage and filmed performances which are available online and occasionally used by the dancers for home learning. The learning events roughly coincide with the events during which dancers can show their dance skills, for instance "dance house" evenings, giving them a good chance to observe each other's dance techniques and adopt new motives from skilled dancers, which does not only develop individual dancers' skills but also enrich the overall formal repertoire of the dance on the long run.

Diana Gutiérrez (Colombia)

Diverse experiences in the Transmission of Traditional Dances with Children in France and Colombia. Documenting, analysing and connecting the transformations of body postures and expressions of children in the transmission of traditional dances in Auvergne, France and the Pacific Coast, Colombia

The research focuses on the transmission of traditional dances in children in two different contexts: in a music school for children in Auvergne, France and in three different environments where the transmission of traditional dances of the Colombian Pacific takes place; in a rural community, in a school of a rural town and in a neighborhood in a suburb of Cali, one of the most important and largest cities of Colombia.

The general aim of the methodology is to combine observation and participation, the use of video, interviews and practical activities that allow the children and the adults and researcher to participate as students and teachers in the transmission of their own dance traditions. Complementary, the visual and ethnographic documentation of each context aims to connect the different experiences in each context as well as the experiences in both contexts in Colombia and France.

It is important to clarify that, although the conditions, the amount of time, my role as a researcher and the methodologies implemented in each country and in each experience were not the same, they were thought complementary.

For each experience, the research aims to describe and analyzed in detail the different body postures and expressions in children in the transmission of traditional dances in two different situations: when adults teach children and when children dance with each other.  As a point of departure, 1) the teachers´ vision of the transmission of the dance -information provided by interviews- will be considered. This information will be nourish and compared with different elements of the transmission: 2) the instructions used by the teachers in different moments of their lessons -direct instructions, use of metaphors, corrections or others- 3) the children practice of the dance as students -body postures, body expressions, corrections made- 4) the children practice of the dance when they dance with each other - body postures and body expressions- 5) the children´s vision of the transmission - open interviews after the teaching situation-.

In a further stage, the research aims to spot intrinsic values shared by adults and children in each experience and to connect intrinsic values shared by children in both contexts.

Dóra Kovács (Hungary)

"Women's view" - Analysis and Interpretation of Couple Dance in Magyarozd, Transylvania

During my presentation I would like to present two different view of  relationship of couple dances in Magyarózd along Maros-Küküllő. The main reason of my theme is revealing to a less-researched part of the hungarian dance studies. I have researched in Magyarózd (can be found in the region of Maros-Küküllő) in the past two years and the informants were predominantly women. We have talked and seen archive movies with them and I have written their memories related to dance. According to my opinion it is important to know a lot about my informants' life, personality and fate because we can get a better view of their role in the pair dances. The two main question of my research are: Which depth of autonomy is it provided for women at the couple dances from Magyarózd? How could we define more precisely relationship between the sexes at the folk-dance?

Filip Petkovski (Macedonia)

Different Approaches in Staging Folk Dance in the National Ensemble of Folk Dances and Songs of Macedonia - Tanec

Folk dance research has been an ongoing problematic in Macedonia since the end of the 19th century. With the birth of the dance ensembles and the formation of the national ensemble of folk dances and songs of Macedonia entitled Tanec, a new movement in folk dance arose, when the authentic village dances started to become choreographed and stylized. Since there is no previous Macedonian or foreign literature that deals with the transition period and the shift of Macedonian folk dance, this work focuses on the approaches that different choreographers chose to present the folk dances on stage.

For better understanding, a fieldwork has been conducted in the national ensemble of Macedonia Tanec during the rehearsal period and the preparations for concerts. A set of interviews have been reordered with the dance leaders and the director of the ensemble, as well as with the choreographers that staged folk dances in the ensemble. As supporting material, a DVD collection has been gathered that contains all of the choreographic works that are on the present repertoire of the national ensemble.

This master dissertation has the aim to analyze, classify and explain the dance related material in order to provide definition of the different approaches that the choreographers used to make a folk dance choreography. The systematization will be based on different factors such as the relationship with the field, the form of the choreographic work and the main idea behind the staged piece. Once the dance material is analyzed, the work will provide a structural analysis of a selected choreographic work in order to provide understanding for the certain approach that the choreographer used. The work will be supported by Macedonian Tanec- related literature as well as selected bibliography by researches that deal with the topic of staged dance such as Andriy Nahachewsky, Anthony Shay, Vesna Bajic Stojilkovic etc.

Keywords: Tanec, national ensembles, staged folk dance, authenticity, stylization, adaptation, Macedonian folk dance, choreography

George Kitaka (Uganda)

Secularisation of Mwaga/Kadodi; a Circumcision Ritual Dance of the Bagisu of Eastern Uganda: a Comparison of the Dance within and outside the Ritual Context

Mwaga/Kadodi dance and music is traditionally known to be part and parcel of imbalu circumcision ritual, a rite of passage for the Bagisu in which boys (between 16 and 22 years) are transformed from boyhood to manhood. Towards the end of the twentieth century, the Mwaga/Kadodi music and dance is seen being pulled out of the ritual context, and used of different spaces for various purposes.

The dance/music is being performed by different performing groups to entertain their audiences. The same dance is today taught is schools, and it regularly features in music, dance and drama festivals as a competing item of the festival. The music /dance is also used politicians to mobilise masses for their organized rallies.

This study intends to compare the dance/music within and outside the ritual, in order to identify the similarities or/and differences between the dance realization over time and space. The study also accounts for the factors responsible for the state of affairs.

Jeremy Carter-Gordon (USA)

Intersubjective Discourse and Adjudication in Dance: Aesthetic Mapping of Judgeing at the Dancing England Rapper Tournament

In this presentation I will investigate the aesthetic concepts and strategies used by judges at the Dancing England Rapper Tournament (DERT) to evaluate rapper sword dancing. I am interested in the layers of intersubjective discourse that allow adjudicators to transform an aesthetic experience into qualitative, but also quantitative evaluation. Using a form of video-assisted interview I am working to create temporal maps of three competition dances, through which I am able to identify and evaluate the marked, aesthetically dense moments of dance in contrast to relatively unmarked "space" surrounding them. I will use Andriy Nahachewsky concept of imputed setting and Egil Bakka's User/Heir distinctions to explain major points of divergence between different judges' preferences and techniques. Finally I will discuss the effect of my research on the competition itself and potential future investigation

Keywords: Aesthetics, Intersubjectivity, Adjudication, video-assisted interview, mapping.

Kinga Szemessy (Hungary)
GAGA - Transmission of a Movement Language and its (imagined) Community

Originally Gaga is the daily training of a contemporary dance company from Israel, called Batsheva. The developer of Gaga is Ohad Naharin, the artistic director of Batsheva and still he can be counted as the leading maintainer of the Gaga knowledge. Gaga exists worldwide, but only in class situations and it does not consist fixed movement patterns. During a Gaga session there is always one sole teacher offering verbal instructions in order to stimulate the participants' imagery and let them move improvisingly. My aim is to investigate Gaga's designation as a ‘movement language' and to unfold its process of transmission. Moreover I am researching the elements that create the community sensation among the Gaga participants, who maybe never met and will never meet with each other. (Most of the information, that I gathered in my fieldwork, was collected through my participation at the classes, therefore I am also intend to argue in favour of embodied research.)

Keywords: improvisation, language, technique, transmission, authorship & ownership, (imagined) community, embodied research

Oluwadamilare Adeyeri (Nigeria)

In search of Bàtá: Cultural Products in Diaspora

Bàtá is a drum and dance tradition of the Yorùbás, a cultural group concentrated in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. The dance is unique in its adjoining movements to the various rhythms and sounds of the drums. In the promotion of cultural practices in diaspora, there is the propensity to regulate traditions for different purposes. Using Hannerz (1996) framework on the production and circulation of culture, this study presents the researcher's encounter with two Nigerian artists living in the United States.

Shamo Sackey (Ghana)

"Klama Fiemi": Possession Dances and Clans

"Dance is a form of worship in many African societies; worship often goes beyond prayer, quiet and solemn contemplation, to include bodily action as well. At regularly scheduled, crisis, or spontaneous times, dances may be part of rituals through which deities, ancestors, and other natural entities are revered and receive supplications for their beneficence. Dances in which individuals become possessed are ways in which men can meet their tutelary spirits when either wishes to communicate."

                                                                                                          Hanna, 1973: 169


Hanna, J. L. (1973). African Dance: The Continuity of Change. (online) 5 pp.165-172, Available at:   (Accessed: 12 April , 2014)

Nketia, J. H. (1957), Possession Dances in African Societies. Journal of the International Folk Music Council, Vol. 9 (1957), pp. 4-9

Mbiti, S. J. (1991). ed (2). ‘Introduction to African Religion'. HeinemannPublishers (Pty) Limited.

Shan Rann Chuah (Malaysia)

Potency of Dance Form Analysis: Decoding a (Secret) Tibetan Lama Dance

My research focuses on 'Cham performed by Tibetan refugee monks in India. When I first chanced upon the dance ritual, I was instantly drawn to it by its myriad of colors and incessant whirling. I later found out that the dance has been practised for centuries behind closed walls of temples. Too little remains known about the origin of the dance and how it manages to survive as a living practice. In this paper, an understanding of the dance was weaved through structural analysis to reconcile the movements with its narrative. An innovative experiment was first carried out to notate a 'Cham performance. With the translation of movements into writing, Dance Form Analysis was subsequently applied to decipher the structure of the dance. Through detailed process of deconstructing and re-constructing the dance, the preliminary dance motifs based on initial observation were transcended to reveal a highly codified system of movements beyond the incessant whirling. 

Signa Schiavo-Campo (Italy)

‘Expression Primitive. Cosmology, Embodied Practice and Bodily Experience'

Expression Primitive is a body practice and technique created by the Haitian dancer Herns Duplan. He was teaching in the seventies in Paris and one of his students, the French psychoanalyst and dance therapist France Schott-Billmann, drew inspiration from his proposal and established her own rearranged version of Expression Primitive, adding a precise therapeutic frame and theoretical basis from human sciences. Primitive, ambiguous term, does not mean archaic or savage but it points out a primordial dimension of existence.

I have spent my summer fieldwork following workshops with both Duplan and Schott-Billmann, whose approaches I compare in my research, underlying differences and similarities between the discourses, cosmologies, ideologies around the practices and the practices themselves. I will try to trace which are the communities around these two people, how they have structured their systems of transmission of the practice and how those systems are embedded in the cultural market logic. 

Keywords: Expression Primitive, Herns Duplan, France Schott-Billmann, dance therapy, primitivism, rhythm, Katherine Dunham, cultural market

Vivien Szőnyi (Hungary)

The Effect of the Hungarian Dance House Movement on the Moldavian Csángó Dance Culture

I have been researching in Moldva (Bacău Country, Romania) since 2012. I bring into focus on changes of the csángó (ethnographic group of Hungarian origin) traditional dance culture and its social and cultural background with an anthropological approach: dance as a social practice. My research methods are making interviews, dance movies and participant observation, focusing on the emic viewpoint of the local informants. In my presentation I would like to investigate the effect of the Hungarian dance house movement on the Moldavian csángó dances. According to my hypothesis, the folk dance in csángó settlements have undergone changes in content, function, form and style due to dance house tourism, out- of-country performances, dance camps and festivals, and the great interest in ethnography and folklore after the 1990s. In the conference, besides analyzing the changes in dances, I am looking for answers as to what kind of social and cultural organization was started by the dance house movement, what the causes of the changes in dance culture are, and how these changes are adapted by the local communities. 

Keywords: moldavian csángó dances, dance house movement, folklorism, analysis of changes, cultural adaptation.

Volha Sasnouskaya (Belarus)

‘Belarusian Vase' Gymnastic Performance at the Independence Day Parade in Minsk: the Spectacle of Power and Reproduction of the Soviet Discourse

The research investigates a mass gymnastics piece ‘Belarusian vase, performed at the sport and military parade during the Belarusian Independence Day in Minsk, Belarus on the 3 July. It was created in Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic (BSSR) in 1930's and has been performed during parades of physical culture until 1987[1]. In 2007 it was revived in Minsk during the Independence Day parade and performed by students of the Physical Culture University. The ‘Belarusian Vase' piece is created from a multitude of dancers, where individual bodies, due to choreography and the structure of the dancers' placing, tend to merge into the dynamic unity.

The research analyses a junction of personal bodily experience and the performance of the state's ideological imagination: how the representation of body within the given gymnastics piece, i.e. the position of an individual body within the performers' collective and its relation to them, is connected to the ideologies, reproduced by the official cultural and political discourse, and how the performers situate themselves in it. The research deals with the issue of reproduction of the Soviet discourse in Belarus by the current political regime - particularly of the soviet ideological narratives considering art and sport, individual and collective body - and its relation to the contemporary political and cultural environment in Belarus, in the case of the Independence Day parade.

Keywords: gymnastics, soviet, Belarus, sport, power, parade

Yassmin Foster (England)

How can "Black Dance" be made Valid and Independent from the wider Choreology?

My research will investigate "Black Dance", a subgenre of dance that receives funding and sponsorship in the UK (United Kingdom). This work will attempt to make "Black Dance" valid and independent from the wider choreology. To do this is I will seek to determine what is meant by the term "Black" in relation to dance and the processes by which "Black Dance" is legitimised. Through interviews, surveys and the movement analysis of current and archived work I will investigate the dance and music relationship through aesthetics, movement quality and motor behaviours. The primary objective is to increase the visibility, recognise the humility and build a framework for historical and current discourse that make up this form of dance.

Keywords/phrases: Black Dance, UK, Choreology, Legitimisation, Movement Analysis, History, Framework



[1] A parade of physical culture is a special for the Soviet Union form of parade procession which included various sports performances and was aimed at promotion of healthy and physically active lifestyle among the population.

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