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THE HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF THE Hungarian ART OF MOVEMENT by Dr. Gedeon Dienes, Mรกrk Fenyves


THE HISTORICAL SUMMARY OF THE ART OF MOVEMENT by Dr. Gedeon Dienes, Márk Fenyves (trans. Lilla Harján, Dr. Gedeon Dienes)

THE EARLY EFFORTS OF THE „REFORMED BODY” IN THE 20TH CENTURY Among the great revelations of the 19th and 20th century we find the appreciation and the movemental release of the body, just as well its performance-oriented and artistically intended usage, and all kinds of the rationalized care of the body, that grew into the „culture of the body”, to what belongs the conditioning, grooming, developing, and the wide variety of using it. It is important to notice, that the terms „health” connected to the body, „wholeness” and „harmony” connected to the soul, and the „comfortability” and „practicality” in the dressing received their modern meaning in this period. The 20th century can be called the Century of Revolutions with ease. There was no field of life – mainly in the regard of the performance and aesthetics – that remained untouched by revolutionary efforts. So was this in the case of artistic dance, the arches, peaks and attempts of revolution led to changes. The representatives of these elements in the moden dance were Isadora Duncan, the Denishawn-school, Martha Graham, Doris Humphrey in the United States, and Rudolf Laban and Mary Wigman in Europe, and so were the art-of-movement - movement art schools in Hungary. The 20th century also created a new situation in the recording of the movements’ manifestation, inventioning the notations of dance (kinetográfia - orcheográfia), and the application of new technologies, as the moving picture (cinematography), and the video. In the 20th century appears a new discipline, the theory of dance, theories that vary in a wide range fom Delsarte to the Dienes Movement System, the Laban Movement System (Koreutika), and notation (Labanotation). The development first appeared in the gymnastics aiming at the health and beauty. Its precursor in the19th century was the French François Delsarte, whose thoughts were used to develop the excersises of health promotion. With the revival of the olympic games also appears the requirement of the highest efficiency. These phenomena made many theoreticals and practitioners to observe what effects of extreme movementpossibilities are caused on the health. Reforms in the men’s gymnastics are to be noticed, the German (Jahn), the Swedish (Ling), and the early 20th centurian Danish (Niels Bukh) gymnastic sysems. There is a peculiar importance in the develeopment of the – newly approached – female bodyculture in the early 20th century, which tendency’s first important representative was the German Ms. Bess Mensendieck, who published the first edition of her health promotional gymanstic reform in 1906, under the title "Körperkultur des Weibes" (The Bodyculture of the Women) subtitled "Praktisch hygienische und praktisch ästhetische Winke" (Practitcal Hygenic and Practical Aesthetic Remonstrances). It is also to be noticed Émile Jaques Dalcroze, who developed a special kind of musical education method in which he estimated the movement as the most important „tool of education”, and brought dance and music consciously close in his schools in Laxemburg and Hellerau. The new movement of dance art (as historical phenomeneon) made its appearance as the opponent of the over-mechanalized, stereotipicalized ballet, to bring spirit into the art of dance, to make it capable to perform feelings, characters, types, to render movements in order to expressions. That’s where the other name of modern dance, the „expressionistic dance” (ausdruckstanz) comes from. What one means by modern dance had been called several other names, as „free dance”, „Central-European dance”, „podium dance”, etc. While the dancers performed their own choreographies on solo concerts, the schools and streams are closely connected to the (name of the) person they were taught by. The main characteristic of what we call „free dance” in this early period was its informality, the total negation of dancing by rules, the opposition of the „right” and „obligatory” movements standardized by the aesthetics of the ballet.

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THE BEGINNINGS IN HUNGARY The appearance of the modern dance was a decade late from the reforms in the foreign countries, in sipte of the fact that Isadora Duncan the „apostle of the modern dace” premiered the her very first solo evening in the Uránia Színház (Theater) of Budapest, on April 19th 1902. The Canadian Maud Allen also visited Hungary in 1907, so did Ruth Saint-Denis, the orientally inspired priestess of the American modern dance. In Hungary the new dance, called art of movement made its appearance in the early 1910’s. These streams were introduced and represented by three main Hungarian school-creating personalities. The modern dance striking root in Hungary was mostly due to the resonancies of Mensendieck’s, the Duncans’ and Dalcrose’s theories. Alice Madzsar (Mrs. József Madzsar, Alice Jászi) brought back to Hungary the ideal of the beauty and health through women’s gymnastics from Ms. Bess Mensendieck of Loftus, Norway, Dr. Valéria Dienes based her activities on the Duncans’ greek styled dance culture of natural movements, Olga Szentpál came back from Hellerau with the degree of the Dalcroze School. In 1912 Alice Madzsar opened a course called body culture for teaching the German Mensendieck-type female gymnastics, Dr. Valéria Dienes, also in 1912, brought home the idea of the Duncan-type free dance from Paris, which she developed into a movement system, known as Orkesztika, and Olga Szentpál started to teach the Dalcroze-type rhythmic gymnastics – then the dance method that developed fom it - in 1919 in Budapest. The common aim of these three schools was - generally speaking - to maintain the beauty of the healthy human body and to use it for imparting certain messages to theatre audiences. In other words, these trends were somewhat similar - if not in purpose but for the means used (i.e. for reasonably handling the human body) - partly to gymnastics, partly to dance. Besides them, - and many schools, and the followers of the ones above – we need to mention Lili Kállai and Sára Berczik, whose schools established in the early 1920’s proved to be persistent, and Mária Mirkovszky and Dr. Gedeon Dienes, who played important part in the survival of the Orkesztika.

Madzsar, Alice (Jászi Alice) (1877 - 1935) Dr. Dienes (Geiger), Valéria (1879 - 1978) Szentpál (Stricker), Olga (1895 - 1957) Mirkovszky, Mária (1896-1987) Kállai (Klein), Lili (1900 -1996) Berczik, Sára (1906 - 1999) Dr. Dienes, Gedeon (1914 - 2005) In the late 10’s and early 20’s of the 20th century the new theatre dance elicited the interest of Hungarian society, particularly of the middle class. The three schools mentioned above had raised the technical qualification of their pupils to a height enabling them to produce performances at a high artistic standard. The success ofthe performances earned great popularity for the trend that could not be assigned to any existing category. It is interesting to note that it was the National (later Hungarian) College of Physical Education that noticed these schools and performances of art-of-movement as ”rivals” in body training and questioned the ”professionalism of the training” going on in them. The Ministry of Interior Affairs decreed in 1925 that the heads of the art-of-movement schools could not go on teaching unless their leaders acquire the diploma of the College of P.E. leaving a grace period of five year to do so. The degree was meant to protect the P.E. diplomas and to limit the operation of the art-ofmovement schools attended mostly by progressive intellectuals. The art-of-movement schools having operated separately soon joined to start a press campaign of protest and set up an organ for representing and protecting their interests. This was the Society for Movement Culture uniting the heads of the schools to fight for the right of teaching and of training teachers. A general assembly held in May 1928 elected the following presidency: count Géza Lipót Zichy as president, Dr. Valéria Dienes, Alice Madzsar and Olga Szentpál as vice-presidents, György Pálfy as secretary general. Later dr. Valéria Dienes became co-president.

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In a memorandum to the Ministry for Education the Society explained that neither the P.E. teachers nor the dance masters could teach art of movement or compose choreographic works, and that these activities were part and parcel of the art-of-movement school leaders with a past of some ten to fifteen years of practice and artistic achievement. As a result of lengthy discussion and disputes the authorities were eventually inclined to admit that the representatives of the new dance trend were capable of creating artistic productions relying on their past. A Night of Tales staging stories written by countess Margit Bethlen was organized in June of 1929 by the Society of Movement Culture participated by the three major schools of Budapest. The programme included the following dance plays: United Souls by Olga Szentpál, Two Angels by Alice Madzsar and the White Princess by Valéria Dienes. These were introduced by a prologue The Enchanted Garden and followed by an epilogue The Story of the Sad City (another two tales) performed by the dance groups of the three schools. After the great success the film director István Lázár shot a film of the evening, The film was premiered under the Hungarian title „Life Death Love” on 30 April 1930 in the UFA Cinema. As far as we know this was the only art-of-movement film professionally produced in Hungary between the two WWs.

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THE ERA OF THE INSTITUTIONAL SCHOOLS The Society for Movement Culture achieved to have the detrimental decree modified: According to a new Decree of the same year (1929) - about the modification of the organization of the Hungarian National Course for Training Dance Masters - the leaders of the three schools were each accorded a ”diploma qualifying them for public teaching” dated on 17 September 1929, allowing them to carry on their art-ofmovement activities. This right had to be revised by the Ministry of Interior Affairs. This may sound somewhat strange since in our days the supervision of teaching is the responsibility of the Authorities of Education and Culture but in those days the dance schools were subject to the regulations of the Ministry of the Interior supervising public behaviour and assembly. This was the first training institution of dance art with public licence. As far as teacher training was concerned, a two-year course in one of these schools was followed by a ”Dance Master Training Year” (referred to as ”State Course”) qualifying for the diploma. Here the instruction manager and teacher of several important subjects (like basic terms in philosophy and aesthetics was György Pálfy. During the almost two decades while the State Course functioned the curriculum underwent a few changes for professional and political reasons. In addition, the educational structure was also organized in an unusual way: The so-called ”State Training Course” had originally been created for training dance masters (which meant teachers of social dances) and later the teaching of art of movement and of ballet was also assigned to this course. After the danger was avoided the schools countinued their activities. Led by the idea of letting the pupils of the different schools get better acquainted with one another, the Orkesztika Institute started a series of private performances in February 1944 where choreographies of the pupils of the schools, Szentpál, Kállai, Berczik could be shown and professionally discussed. In the meanwhile more and more foreign modern dancers visited Hungary. In some years ten to fifteen foreign dancers gave concerts in Budapest and beyond. Around the WW II. they still had some effect on the movement artist of Hungary, dancers as Harald Kreuzberg, Rosalia Chladek and Hanna Berger. In the thirties, the theatrical activities of Alice Madzsar’s school were declared ”politically undesirable”, and the school had to be closed. Later the work in several schools was made impossible by the anti-Jewish laws. In the late forties unprecedented decrees were issued almost dooming art of movement to extinction for political and ideological reasons.

AFTER THE WAR After the WW II. Many had the feeling that the time had come for the art-of-movement people to realize their dreams of many years. One of the objectives was to introduce art-of-movement into public education and to establish an Art of Movement Academy for training artists and teachers in higher education. In the first post-war years enquiries were made about the possibility of joining an existing institutions of higher education like the College of Physical Education, that of Dramatic Arts or the Music Academy. Sára Berczik, Lili Kállai, Olga Szentpál and Mrs. Gyula Ortutay worked most actively to create different curriculums. As far as teacher trainig is concerned, all that could be achieved was that Decree no.1561500/1945. of the Ministry of the Interior (of 30 October 1945) re-established the National Art-of-Movement Teacher Training Course with a curriculum of three years. The elections of August 1947 were followed by a series of events leading to a turning point, namely to the issue of teaching and practicing art of movement or of liquidating it. The events of the subsequent years: 1947: Olga Szentpál discontinued her school. March 10, 1948: György Pálfy, acting vice-president of the Society for Movement Culture resigned since he felt there was a trend to move towards folk dance and physical education instead of trying to achieve independence for art of movement. 5 - http://www.mozdulatmuveszet.hu, http://www.orkesztika.hu


December 6, 1948: The National Art-of-Movement Teacher Training Course was terminated by Decree no. 637440/1948 BM of the Minister of the Interior. As a result of negotiations with the Society of Dancers, the supervision of the State Training Course (abolished by that time) was transferred to the Ministry of Religion and Public Education (Dept. Of Arts). The last year when diplomas in the art of movement are given. The principal of the last course was Erzsébet Hirschberg. A department on dance management, led by Olga Szentpál, was organized in theCollege of Dramatic Arts and training took a turn toward folk dance. April 25, 1949: The General Assembly of the Society for Movement Culture unanimously decided to liquidate the Society. December 7, 1949: A ”College of Dance Art” with a department for primary dance training and one fortraining dance teachers on an intermediate level was created by Decree 8399/1949 (256) of theMinister for Popular Education. This decree makes no mention of training art-of-movement teachersor choreographers.September 1950: The State Ballet Institute was created by uniting the College of Dance Art and the Ballet School of the Opera. After the dissolution of the Society for Body Culture, the Art-of-Movement Department of the Teachers’ Trade Union remained the last resort where Lili Kállay fought the battles with the Society of Dancers which had the upperhand. This ended by being dissolved after fierce debates and expression of self-criticism. Debates on the professional value of art-of-movement went on in the Society of Dancers: Some of the members looked upon art-of-movement as bourgeois formalism, as a characteristic trend of imperialism. They called for ideological ”re-education”. These debates prompted many art-of-movement dancers and teachers to abandon the profession and eventually led to the banning of this form of art. The art-of-movement was banned, although there was no law or decree to institutionalize it. Several professionals changed to other fields, or gave up their practical work (teaching, choreographing). There were who turned towards the folk dance or ballet, and who started theoretic work. Those who were banned from the field of artistic dance but didn’t want to give up their ideals started to practice in another profession, like health care, healing gymnastics, sports activities and so on, but they all had to surrender their original aim: the art through the movements. The theatrical side of the art of movement disappeared but the theoretical considerations, its spirit and practices went on living. But also there were the ones who saved their knowkedge under some practical ways throug the 40 years of abandonment. We consider Mária Mirkovszky, Lili Kállai and Sára Berczik, az examples.

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AFTER THE YEARS OF SILENCE In the 60’s and 70’s the interest of experts again turned toward art of movement. Some important publications of Valéria Dienes, Zsuzsa Merényi have to be mentioned here. From the 1960’s Valéria Dienes’ essays (who’s in her eighties) on the history of the Orkesztika School and her movement system are published in the periodical of the dance profession. In the mid-70’s Iván Vitányi’s television interview with Valéria Dienes gave an impetus to the revival of art-of-movement. For the political changes of Hungary in the 1990’s the the labelling „bourgeois decadency” lost its meaning, but the mark of dilettantism maintained for years. As for the art-of-movement community, in 1991 the Orkesztika Egyesület (Society), and the still functioning foundation, the Orkesztika Alapítvány was founded. In 1992 on the general assembly of the Society the idea of the art-of-movement education’s revival, and the resuscitation of the Society for Movement Culture came up. On May 15th 1993 the Magyar Mozdulatkultúra Egyesület (MMKE – Hungarian Movement Culture Society) - with members before and after the banning of art of movement - was re-established in order to join and represent the traditional and contemporary representatives of art-of-movement and their values. Its aim was the rehabilitation of the field of art-of-movement, and the setup the system of its education. In forming the Society the older generation played a very active part, as Éva E. Kovács, Mrs. György Kármán (Judit Vidor), Sára P. Berczik, Ágnes Szöllősi, Dr. Gedeon Dienes.

From its establishment the Hungarian Movement Culture Society it takes care of the training of art-ofmovement, movement educators and general body culture, just as its ancestor before the WW II. The tradition and theoretical basis of art of movement could only be learned by this society in its full diversity. Besides the aesthetical ideas, the aspects of health also applied. The techniques based on the natural movements avoid the extremities of the other professional fields of dance, that corrupt the health of the body. Its program provided knowledge, which would be neccesary for a movement pedagogue, but couldn’t be taken by the limits of any other professional frame. Until 2006 the Hungarian Movement Culture Society ceased to function, due to its unfinancing it couldn’t maintain its system that was cut to the bare minimum. Their members continue their activties in the Orkesztika Alapítvány. As the stream of art, after a lot of minor initiations, the Magyar Mozdulatművészeti Társulat (Hungarian Art of Movement Company, under its former name „Még 1 Mozdulatszínház” – 1 More Movement Theatre) represents ragged art-of-movement in the Hungarian professional dance. To accquie its pedagogy is possible through the Art of Movement Studio’s (Budapest) open course system, run by the Orkesztika Alapítvány.

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ABOUT THE ART-OF-MOVEMENT by Márk Fenyves The term „modern dance” is the general denomination of those movements of the artistic dance that were born from the dance revolution around the turn of the 19th and 20th century. The place of this revelation was Europe and America. What is meant under the term „art-of-movement” is the movement of modern art, that started in Hungary in1912, was prosperous between the World Wars, and was pushed to silence in the 1940’s, being marked by the state as a kind of art that is "bourjois, formalist, estranged from the socialist ideology" and by the profession as "dilettant". However, art-of-movement survived this period, and still exists. The characteristics of its representatives are the high level of liberty, the individual style, presentation and technique, each school is different from the others. They made themselves independent from the canonized technique-based classical dance, the ballet’s ways of expression and style. This high level of the individual’s freedom have never been experienced in any other dance movements until their appearance, so it’s not a coincidence to call some lines of this movement „free dance”. This art’s domain is the human movement. Its form is limited by the possibilities of movements, from which possibilities the creating spirit choses what’s adequate for its purpose, so the artist is capable to transfigure even the most common movement to the vehicle of his art. The movement artist is creator and performer simultaneously, and usually pedagogue, whose art-ofmovmental individualism drives to revolve and change continuously, his art is an up to date, contemporary piece. In the unique relationship of the master and student, the master guides and leads his student through his particular reality, makest to find the studen his own personal way to the gates of his world. To form the self-based creative personality is the most important aim in the education of the movement artists, its tool is the freely formative technique of the body and spirit. In contrast with other streams of dance, that concentrate exclusively on the bodily technique, in the center of the art-ofmovement education is the body- concious, reflective, active personality. The uncovering their cousinly relationship is if we think of them as „family trees”. These families are the transmittors of each systems and methods’ theoretical and practical experiences, that exsist mostly from the beginning of the 20th century. In this regard the art-of-movement has valuable tradition, (which’s type can be only compared to the folk dance’s) The exact mimicry of the ancestors can neither be intention nor instrument. The right way, that is force and freedom at the same time, leads through the self-made realization, understanding and expression for the movement artist. The aim of the methods that forming a movement artist is to build up the harmonious union of the body, the mind and the spirit, to train artists and pedagogues mature for continuous fluctuation within the ideal of „wholeness”. This art’s most important tradition is the continuous intention of development, renewal, individuality and freedom. The equally important characteristics of its historical evolution are the tradition and progressivity.

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the historical summary of the Hungarian art of movement  

the historical summary of the Hungarian art of movement

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