Since early childhood, performing has been Veronika Farkas’ way of life. In her native Budapest, Hungary, the preschooler attended strict European-style voice, dance and acting classes.
“I was roped into musical theater, but always gravitated toward dance,” recalled the founder and director of the Germantown-based VF Dance Theater that will perform “Hip Hop Snow White” on May 5 and 6 at the Arts Barn in Gaithersburg.
At the insistence of an aunt, Farkas’ mother sent 7-year-old Veronika to the “cattle call” for a touring production of “Les Misérables.” She landed the role of Cosette and traveled with the troupe—and without her mother—for three seasons to destinations including Germany and Japan. At the time, some three decades ago, there was no Internet or inexpensive way to call home. “It was hard not having my mother, who was my only family. She was a single mother and I had no siblings,” Farkas said. As the youngest member of the cast by far—“I was the baby—and (as such), everyone took care of me.”
After “Les Miz,” at about age 10, Farkas continued to train at institutions including the Budapest Ballet Dance Academy, the Moscow Ballet Academy and the Berlin School for the Performing Arts. She earned numerous film credits and did voiceovers for American movies that came to Hungary. As a young teen, Farkas joined a touring cast of “Evita” that performed in France, Eastern Europe and Alaska. She was pleased that “the show gave me more dance opportunities.”
As a touring child star for nine months of the year, from the end of August through early June, Farkas was homeschooled by tutors, then had to “test out” to ensure her academic progress.
At 16, Farkas moved to the U.S. (with her mother), where she continued to train, locally at Maryland Youth Ballet as well as in New York at the Alvin Ailey School and Broadway Dance Center. Although European conservatories had given her various theater and dance performance degrees, her career delayed an academic degree. It was not until age 23 that she began studying dance choreography and performance at the University of Maryland. “I decided I wanted to teach dance,” she said. “I wanted to be behind the scenes, educating.”
Finding a permanent place to teach dance was her next project. About 14 years ago, Farkas started her modern dance company, VF Dance Theater (now VF Dance and Fitness). “I had been dancing for people for so many years,” she said. “Every time I performed, I would think, ‘If this were my piece, I would do it my way.’. I wanted to create my dreams.”
Expanding her horizons further, Farkas completed a master’s degree in human movement—focusing on kinesiology–at the Arizona School of Health and Sciences (A/T Still University) and subsequently certifying as a trainer and group fitness instructor with membership in AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America). The master’s degree equipped her to address the needs of her dancers, who she said qualify as “the best athletes. My choreography is strenuous and athletic, even though we work to make it look smooth and easy to the audience.” The certification enabled her to address her “second love: teaching fitness to adults.”
At VF Dance Theater, Farkas uses modern, ballet, jazz, lyrical, hip hop and cultural dance forms to create pieces that tell a story. The school offers an intensive program for teens, 11 to 18, as well as classes for ages 5 to 12. Adult instructors, Farkas said, work as team to train the children and involve them in an annual production.
Having noted the families and children who attended her “Cirque du Dance” show last year at the Arts Barn, Farkas wrote the lyrics and choreographed “Hip Hop Snow White” for that audience. “I never like to do a story that already has a book, movie or TV show because it sets expectations,” she said. But this especially beloved-to-her Brothers Grimm tale, she noted, has been largely ignored and is not copyrighted.
Thus, Farkas chose to set the tale in modern times and use hip hop music and dance; she added two narrator-storyteller-rappers who talk directly to the audience, eliminated the huntsman with murderous intent and ended it all with a twist—that will not be revealed here. Since the Arts Barn stage is small, Farkas created an off-stage DJ booth for the narrators, which also will serve to enhance audience involvement, she said. “The kids will feel like part of the show.”
In the cast of about 20, adults play the main characters, older teens are the dwarfs and the youngest dancers “create atmosphere” as forest creatures. The audience will have the opportunity to meet them all after the show.
Arts on the Green presents “Hip Hop Snow White,” featuring the VF Dance Theater, at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 5, and 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Arts Barn, 311 Kent Square Road, Gaithersburg. The show is recommended for ages 4 and older. For tickets–$22, $12 for children 10 and younger–call 301-258-6394 or visit www.gaithersburgmd.gov. For information about VF Dance Theater & Fitness, visit http://vfdanceandfitness.com. View this event on CultureSpotMC here.