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In 1995, Szarkaláb folk-dance group was founded by the Apáczai Csere János High School. It was the second Hungarian folk-dance group to be founded in Cluj-Napoca. In the beginning, the group was made up of students attending both the Apáczai Csere János and Báthory István High Schools, but since then the group has welcomed students from all around Transylvania.

In 1999, a major change took place in the dance group; the core of today’s Szarkaláb has stayed together, despite leaving High School. The majority of today’s members are now university students, although there is still an influx of students from the Apáczai Csere János School.
Szarkaláb works with 10-13 pairs of dancers. The rehearsals take place in the rehearsal room at the Heltai Gáspár Library Foundation.

One of the major goals of this folk-dance group is to practice traditional Transylvanian dances and to bring them to stage in their original form, without being over-choreographed. We also show great importance to the teaching of folk-dances and passing them on to the next generation.

We consider that the process of acquiring our traditional customs should not have an end in itself, but it is very important to show it to the world through national and international performances, festivals and forums. This way we can contribute to the process of acquainting people with our minority culture, folk-dance and music.

Szarkaláb is a regular participant of national and international programmes and festivals. Since 1995, it has made around 340 appearances. We are regular attendees of various folk-dance festivals around Cluj-Napoca, within Cluj county and Transylvania.

We make an extra effort to visit underprivileged places with a minority Hungarian population, where other groups rarely or never dance. As part of an ongoing partnership with the “Heltai Gáspár” Library Foundation, we started our central-Transylvanian tour in 2005, in the course of which we produce performances for 10-12 places like these annually.

In addition to our national performances, we often receive invitations to perform at other international festivals. We have danced in numerous places in Transylvania, but also in about 16 European countries including Hungary, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, France, Slovakia, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Greece and Portugal.
In the spring of 2005, we established Szarkalábacskák, a ‘younger’ form of Szarkaláb for children. At present, there are around 75 children learning to dance. These children are pupils of the Apáczai Csere János and a school from the Dambu Rotund neighbourhood.

Together with the Heltai Gáspár Library Foundation, we organized the first ‘Szent István’ Folk-Dance Festival in 1999, and have organized it annually ever since. It has become one of the most significant international minority festivals of the Carpathian Basin, and become more and more acknowledged outside the region also. During these 8 years we have hosted 61 folk-dance groups (about 1830 people), from 15 minorities of 13 countries. Some groups have become regular participants of our programme. The ‘Szent István’ international folk-dance festival takes place around Cluj-Napoca annually, in 9-10 various locations in the counties of Cluj and Zalau, enabling the resident population of these counties to actively participate in the programmes.

In October 2006, we started our Heltai ‘Táncház’ (Dance Club). Our plan is to have a Folk-Dance Club in Cluj, organized every two weeks, where people can meet and dance in a comfortable atmosphere.

Considering the fact that most of the ‘Szarkaláb’ members are students in Cluj, coming from many different regions of the country, we show great interest in their professional training, so that after returning home they will continue their folk-dancing and teaching activities.

The group is maintained and supported by the Heltai Gáspár Library Foundation and led and choreographed by Balázs Pillich.