In far-flung Hungariantowns, 500 underprivileged children have been preparing since January to show the world what they have learned from each other. It all culminates on 3 June with a grand open-air event, the Dancing on the Square project, alongside the musicians of the Budapest Festival Orchestra (BFO).
The children’s hard work, performance and their dancing are all palpable proofs that music, dancing and art have serious potential for community-building. Iván Fischer started the BFO’s nationwide project a year ago.
When the Dancing on the Square project opens the summer season, it will allow one of the world’s leading orchestras to draw attention to the intrinsic power of creative activities based on mutual tolerance, as well as the community-building and -shaping effects of music. As Iván Fischer puts it, “This initiative is about tolerance, it is about both disadvantaged and more fortunate children dancing together to the Festival Orchestra’s music. It is a great celebration of tolerance.”
Building on last year’s success, this year will see 500 disadvantaged children from 22 schools dancing to Stravinsky’s Jeu de cartes, making not only the performance, but also the chosen piece of music special. Stravinsky’s music will show the Dancing on the Square project’s audience the potential of co-operation. Children will arrive in Budapest from 18 towns in 9 counties. Until then, however, dancers invited by the BFO are visiting them every week to teach the moves. Besides those in Budapest, schools from Apátfalva, Berettyóújfalu, Bogád, Bükkösd, Edelény, Hódmezővásárhely, Karcag, Kecskemét, Kisvárda, Miskolc, Ózd, Pécs, Piliscsaba, Szécsény, Téglás, Tiszaszalka and Zsámbék will all be sending participants. The children have a long road ahead of them, both literally and figuratively, before they get to Heroes’ Square in Budapest for the Dancing on the Square programme.
April marks a turning point for the young dancers, because now they will be stepping out of their home towns to meet, for the first time, other children who have been preparing for the same performance. They will be gathering in one of five regional centres between 18 and 25 April, for joint rehearsals with the Dancing on the Square project’s lead choreographer, the Harangozó Prize-recipient Bertalan Vári.
In 2015 the orchestra returned to Heroes’ Square after a several-year-long hiatus; starting in 1993 they played many popular free concerts in the square. The resumption of these concerts, now featuring disadvantaged children, was a huge success last year. (A teaser of the programme can be found here.)
Throughout the coming months, prominent business, cultural and civil figures will be helping to spread the message of the Festival Orchestra’s initiative. Schools in Budapest have the opportunity to host the children from rural areas.
The BFO is also launching a fundraising campaign where people will be able to donate ‘kilometres’ for the children to get to Budapest. Find out more about the project through our website at www.bfz.hu soon.