Dancing on the Square for tolerance

Learn more

Iván Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra are organising the fifth Dancing on the Square programme in June, 2019. Hundreds of children from underprivileged areas of Hungary dance together at the free, open-air event – this time to Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, played by one of the world’s best orchestras.

“Wagner described Beethoven’s Seventh as the ‘apotheosis of the dance’” Fischer says. “It was considered the music of freedom, especially because of the continuous, uplifting pulsation of the last movement. I am very happy about the children dancing to this.”

Launched in 2015, Dancing on the Square is not just about music and dance. It is also about mutual acceptance, tolerance, and sharing moments.

The stars are the hundreds of children who dance to the orchestra’s music in the heart of Budapest. They spend months working towards a common goal, learning about one another, and enjoying the fruits of being part of a larger community with thousands of members. Participating schools work with the orchestra to include a mix of Roma and non-Roma, disadvantaged children and some who are better off.

In addition to the weekly dance rehearsals, we organise regional meetings. We cooperate with the Foundation for Democratic Youth to strengthen community ties and social skills and give the children the opportunity to get closer to classical music.

Feedback from the children and teachers working with them suggests we are on the right track: “Children from various parts of the country became true teams”, “Life-long friendships were built”, “What goes on here is truly wonderful”, “I’ve never seen the girls laugh like that”, “Children accept each other”, “These children are able to create things from nothing”, “The ‘Dancing on the Square’ camp opened my mind to things”, “Music gives the most in life”.

All this supports our belief that music can build special bonds between people regardless of gender, social status or ethnic background. It teaches us to cooperate with, be open to and look after one another.