Kenneth Tse did not have any previous connections to Hungary or Hungarians when he started learning about Hungarian folk dances and folk music at an international dancing event. He fell in love with it and decided to visit Hungary in 1997, magyaridok.hu reports.
He said that it was wonderful to be at a barn dance with this kind of connection between musicians and dancers. In many dances, the music is just a necessity, but here it brings life to the dance. He adds that barn dances are a community event in Hungary and everyone has an active part in it, even those who are there only to have a drink and a nice conversation.
After this, he invited three dance teachers to Hong Kong: Sándor Tímár choreographer (who still keeps in touch with him, watches videos of his performances and points out mistakes if there are any), Zoltán József Nagy (aka Púder) and János Fazekas (aka Fazi). Kenneth Tse spent about five-six years learning from them, then started to come up with his own choreography. His dance troupe, the Knack Cordial Folk Group, was just celebrating their 20th anniversary.
About 60-70 per cent of the dances they perform are from Transylvania; the rest are from Hungary and other countries. He also loves the Hungarian dresses and finds it important to have authentic clothes when they are performing folk dances from Sárköz, Somogy, Kalotaszeg or Kalocsa.
“The beautiful clothes may be one thing that motivates people to learn Hungarian dances. Whenever I am in Transylvania or Hungary, I always look up people selling their family treasures, which is how we have managed to put together twenty outfits for women in our troupe. It would be hard to make these in Asia, even getting the right kind of thread and pattern would be problematic, so it is better to get original clothes from the source. This is what I have always done, not just with the outfits, but also with the dances and music. As I have told my troupe:
if we come to Hungary, I want people to see that we are not destroying their culture, but keeping their high standards” says Kenneth Tse.
He has been working together with the Hungarian Folk Embassy since 2016 when he met their leader in a rather interesting way. They were at a book fair in Taipei when the Hungarian delegation realised that the man from Hong Kong seems to know the steps of Hungarian folk dances. They invited him up to the stage where he danced with István Berecz. The next day Kenneth showed up with his 16 dancers, and Mihály Rosonczy-Kovács immediately started cooperation with Kenneth Tse, which is why he gets to spend some time now in Hungary.
If you would like to see them perform, the Knack Cordial Folk Group will be at a dance camp in Kalotaszentkirály on the first of August.
Featured image: facebook.com/Kenneth Tse