We are used to seeing Asian imports in Hungary, be they automobiles or hip new restaurants. Less frequently do we see Hungarian culture exported to the Far East. And it’s downright unique that we get to report on a group of Asians who are taken with Hungarian folk dance. But when the occasion to do so occurs, we jump on it, because nothing is more fun than seeing some cross cultural appreciation (not appropriation, mind you) expressed at the highest level.
This is the story of the Hong Kong Hungarian folk dance group Knack Cordial. Founded by Hong Kong native Kenneth Tse, the group recently created a small media sensation when they performed in Budapest. Founded in 1998 after Mr. Tse returned from studying the folk dance of Transylvania and Hungary, the group has been awarded numerous prizes in their home territory, and visited Europe three times. Moreover, they are giving workshops to dancers from Taiwan as well as in the UK, spreading their love for Hungarian dance far and wide.
In his interview with Daily Hungary, Tse explains his passion: “I really liked the sound of the violin. The rhythm of the Hungarian dance – especially in the Transylvanian area – is very strong and is, for dancing purposes, quite easy to follow. Yet sometimes the music gets faster and really tests your ability to get the rhythm right. I was so attracted to it that they told me if I really wanted to learn Hungarian dance then I better go to Hungary – and especially to Transylvania and Romania which were part of Hungary before the war. So I decided to go to both Hungary and Transylvania. After returning to Hong Kong in 1998, I set up my own group and continued visiting Hungary every year for 10 years.”
With firsthand experience from his travels, Tse has proven himself to be a cultural explorer in the vein of Bartok, a composer he is no doubt well familiar with. As an ambassador for Hungarian dance, he excels in the role, and has been teaching it for over 20 years. While his pronunciation of Hungarian is quite good -- at least according to him -- he claims to not actually speak any of the language. Oddly (or not) they are not the only Asian Hungarian dance group. The breezily named Pálinka Hungarian Dance Group hails from Japan.
It is true that táncház, or informal folk dance nights at pubs and cultural centers, which once were the hi-light of the week for young and old, are disappearing. But in this globalized world, it is good to know that while we can enjoy dim sum in Hungary, residents of Hong Kong and other Asian countries can indulge in Hungarian dance, and maybe a pálinka or two, if it can be found.
Flatpack Films is based in Budapest, Hungary. We are a film company that offers an inspiring and professional work atmosphere for our local and international clients. Since our inception, our focus has been providing the best of the best in terms of local production resources, locations, cast, and technical teams to ensure that whatever the production we facilitate, we do to highest standard possible.