More than dancing; Group Serves as US Ambassador on Recent Hungarian Tour | Community

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Two teenagers from Blount County will remember the summer of 2017 as when they danced in front of 200,000 people in a foreign land they came to know and love.

Mary Elizabeth Shore and Emily Freeny, both 16 years old and residents of Maryville, are part of the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. This dance group recently traveled to Hungary where they performed at a number of venues, including at the Budapest Primary School for 120 students and at an outdoor performance in Hajduszoboszio in front of 10,000 spectators. . They even danced in front of the Parliament and the Basilica in an open-air hall in Budapest.

There were 14 dancers and 10 adults who made the trip, including a couple of photographers, three TCDE staff and parents. They stayed there for a total of nine days.

But, the highlight of the trip was to be as dancers at the Debrecen Carnival of Flowers, where 200,000 people saw them perform. The Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble is the first group of artists from the United States in the 50-year history of the Flower Carnival.

Add in an additional stadium gala for 100,000 viewers and 3 million viewers on Hungarian National TV, and it’s safe to say that Hungarians now know more about Tennessee and the talent that exists here.

Dance Ambassadors

of good will

The purpose of the trip is to represent the state of Tennessee, the nation and the world as dancing goodwill ambassadors and also to be positive role models for children around the world.

Shore said she wouldn’t have missed this opportunity for the world.

“It was an experience that opened my mind and that I will remember all my life,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with a group of Hungarian teenagers who were our guides for several days, and it was fun getting to know kids my age from such a different place.”

Irena Linn is artistic director. She was 19 and a student of dance legend Mary Wigman when she met Dorothy Floyd in Berlin, Germany. It was the start of a friendship that brought Linn to America and to the Dancers Studio, and finally to the Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble.

“In 1966, I left the Boston Conservancy where I taught modern dance because Dorothy Floyd offered me the chance to attend Dancers Studio,” Linn explains on the TCDE website. “From the start, I knew there was a special idealism in her. I wanted to be part of her dream of teaching children using the art form of modern dance.

Amy Renee Wilson, alumnus of TCDE, is Associate Artistic Director. She traveled five countries with the Ensemble. The Executive Director is Judy Lane Robinson.

More than dancing

Lynn Freeny, Emily Freeny’s father, was part of the journey as a photographer. He said this group goes to places where people have never seen this type of performance. The Hungarian people loved it and treated the group very well, he said. It was more than playing for everyone.

The dancers are working extremely hard for this project and others, he added. They also give up their spring break every year to help poor regions of the Appalachian Mountains.

There was a lot of preparation before this unique experience. Emily Freeny said it’s hard to describe all this means.

“I am in love with Hungary, its people and its culture,” she said. “Their happiness is contagious and inspiring. I am very grateful that our Ensemble was adopted by the Hungarian people whose love of dance was as great as ours. This trip taught me so much more than I could ever have learned in my life and introduced me to new people who were different but like me.


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