TANAC – Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatians in Hungary
The ensemble, established in 1988 in Pécs, recruited young people from Pécs and the neighbouring villages with the aim of collecting, adapting, preserving, and presenting the music, the dances, the traditional outfits, and the customs of South Slavic People including Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes. In 1989, the ensemble made its first video and started going on regional tours. Documenting their performances in the form of photos, videos, calendars, books, CDs, DVDs, and their own website has always been important for the ensemble. They have had over 800 performances (including the European Cultural Capital opening ceremony, performances in the National Theatre of Pécs, festivals in Croatia and in the proximity of River Dráva at Easter). Zoltán Batyu Farkas joined the ensemble in 1990 and from the very beginning of his dance teaching in Lakócsa, he emphasized high-quality and authentic dramaturgy and dancing as a performing art. He and the ensemble have staged many performances. Choreographies and performances based on the music of Béla Bartók (Allegro Barbaro, Romanian folk dances, 44 duos for 2 violins) are especially significant. Later teachers of the ensemble had outstanding teaching and artistic qualities as well, which further strengthened their artistic and cultural mission. Dancing original and authentic folk dances, using the best of music, and involving the best musicians and folk dancers, and appealing to modern audiences are the major tenets of their mission.
Since 1990 the ensemble has regularly organised dance camps and dance courses for all age groups. Thousands of children and adults have learnt dances, folk songs, and ethnography. Preserving and imparting cultural traditions also take the form of public group dance sessions called “táncház”: they have been organising public group dance sessions, usually accompanied by Vizin Band, since October 1988. They have staged special dance shows: five years after their foundation (in 1993), they had already staged five special shows entitled “Those who still live” (a reference to a poem by Endre Ady), “Dark is the edge of the sky” (a folk song from Kalotaszeg),” In Search of Lost Time” (a reference to Proust’s novel of the same title), South Slavic People Across the River (Croatian folk dance and a reference to a novel by Hemingway), From Autumn to Autumn (an overview of customs). Their first jubilee special show was held in the National Theatre of Pécs in 1993 that was followed by another eight (celebrating the 10th, 15th, 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversaries, and other special shows such as the performance entitled “Message” in honour of Béla Bartók). In 1993, Tanac was in the final of TV quiz show “Who knows what?” (Ki mit tud?) and finished second in the national quiz show. In 1994, they went on a 10-day tour in Washington D.C. and New York City. Every second year from 1996 on, national dance evaluation festivals were organised again where the maximum score is 150 points. Tanac has participated in six such festivals receiving 144 points once, and 146 points five times – equivalent of the first or second place among all Hungarian folk-dance ensembles in the festival. After 2006, the ensemble received – for the second time – the Martin Görgy Award for three excellent festival results in a row. This is when the ensemble decided to give up competing in order to find new ways for development and to devote more time to their original mission. They only made two exceptions when they participated in the folk music and folk-dance talent spotting TV show called “Fölszállott a páva”. The new goals of Tanac address minority experience and the traditions that are still ‘alive’ and practiced. They found that, in addition to self-promoting staged performances, real cultural value comes from living in a minority group that is culturally authentic and from collecting the cultural customs and experiences of old people living in villages. In this spirit, artistic work requires the choreographer’s humility and humbleness to subject their own artistic self-fulfilment to communicating a cultural message authentically when staging a performance. Fortunately, all the guest teachers of the ensemble were like-minded people. Tanac is one of the very few folk-dance ensembles in Hungary that uses the music of Béla Bartók in their dance choreographies.