The Ballet Company of Gyõr celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2009. The company is preparing for the event with a grandiose ballet performance to the music of Béla Bartók, Schubert and the Rolling Stones.
A company that fascinates, shakes and tickles, and whose premiers are always important events. This is the Ballet Company of Gyõr, which is celebrating its 30th birthday and which has made a great number of hit shows since its establishment.
The group is well-known from Tokyo to New York and Paris to Thessalonica; they have performed at the Scala in Milan, at the Bayreuth Festival and at the Seoul Olympic Games. “We have quite a strong position in the international dance-field, each year we perform abroad for 3-5 weeks,” János Kiss, art manager and director of the company told Diplomacy and Trade magazine. “One of the most significant events in the jubilee season is that we are to step on stage again in the Joyce Theatre, New York.” In the course of the 5-month festival, ‘The Fall of Communism in Europe’, the company is the only dance-group from the CEE region to get introduced in front of the American public. They are to perform their very own Stravinsky night, Petrushka and the Spring Sacrifice. “In Hungary, referring to our anniversary in style, we'll have thirty performances: besides the 17 subscription concerts in Gyõr, we'll perform in Budapest, Debrecen, Pécs and Szolnok. Furthermore, a photo-exhibition, ‘30 years, 30 photos,’ has opened about us at the main hall of the Gyõr National Theatre, and there is a ‘Kukucska Mozi’ (Peek Cinema) also available, where archive documentary films are on about our most successful performances of the past 30 years.”
The future generation
The Ballet Company of Gyõr was established on All Souls' Day, in 1979. “This could have been a bad omen but turned out to be just the opposite”, laughs Kiss. He also reveals it was a kind of profanity at that time that the graduate students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institution decided to stay together and found their own company. They managed to win the then internationally well-known Iván Markó as the leader of the group who left Maurice Bejart's world famous company and came home from Brussels to Hungary. “So, we radically stirred up stagnant waters of culture-politics”, Kiss remarks. “Imre Pozsgai, then Secretary of Culture, asked the Alliance of Dance Arts whether it was worthy to establish a dance company in Gyõr and the experts didn't support the idea, at all. They said, as Gyõr was an industrial city, dance art had had no tradition and culture. However, the city gave us the glad hand.”
The company has made history by now. Ballet school and dance courses were launched in the city that has been honored with the ‘Capital of Dance’ title several times. Children can already start ballet training while being in kindergarten and can enroll to the Primary School of Dance through an entrance exam. After a successful enrollment, they can study at the Gyõr Secondary School of Ballet Dance and Visual Arts. Ballet-master teacher training is also available in Gyõr at the placed division of the Hungarian College of Dance Arts. “An incredible persistence and strength is required if someone decides to become and remain a professional ballet artist”, reveals Kiss adding that the career of a ballet dancer is restricted to maximum 20 years. “The body almost has to be carved and graved and constantly has to be kept in shape. This can only be achieved if you have obsession.”
The company currently operates with 33 dance artists, an independent technical crew and management. Kiss is proud they managed to win over the most well-known foreign choreographers for some of their productions. “For example, Libor Vaculik, manager of the Ballet in Prague made us the libretto and the choreography for ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ based on Gaston Lerouxe's novel. This was a world premier, since our company was the first to put this romantic love story on ballet stage”, he notes. “The American Robert North is another recurring star choreographer who is working with us at the moment; we are rehearsing to stage Franz Schubert's The Death and the Maiden as our jubilee performance.”
The Kossuth, Liszt and Hevesi Award winner ballet artist and manager is planning to stage a historical play for 2011 which is to present the early “Good Old Days” in Hungary following the Compromise. “I would like to depict and show that the different denominations were able to live side by side in peace and calm.” According to Kiss, the primary aim of the ballet, besides giving joy and delight, is to make people think. “That's why we stage religious, literary and historical plays, some of them might appear rather strange and weird at first or at least do not follow the traditions of classic ballet,” Kiss says. “Just like Christopher Bruce's ‘Rooster’ that I believe is a real delicate piece.” The play basically depicts the character of a man, very much alike the all-time seducer Don Juan. In this play, he wears the colors of devil, blood-red shirt and black trousers, unscrupulously seduces all women on the music of the famous rock band, ‘The Rolling Stones’. His affection is never emotional, only sensual. “Rooster, spiced with the style and spirit of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s, is a remarkably vital work based on body language. We hope that the fascinating rhythm of the most well-known songs of The Rolling Stones and the novel choreography will grip even those too who are less apt for ballet.”
Good and Bad
“Quite unbelievable, but the set of our performance Gaudi was stolen in June,” Kiss reveals. The thieves intruded the storage from the back by breaking the wall open and robbed five, 300 kg aluminum carriers, as well as cables and electro motors. The total damage was HUF 5.5 million. The storage was insured, so the company got compensation but the procurement of the frames might take half a year as these special elements are produced in the Netherlands. “We were to perform Gaudi in several Hungarian festivals and were also invited to Spain but now most of these performances have to be cancelled,” Kiss adds. “It happens, but overall, we consider ourselves rather lucky. We have wonderful sponsors behind us, just like Audi Hungaria and EON that have been supporting us for 8 years now. Zsolt Borkai, mayor of Gyõr guaranteed that in spite of the recession our dance group will not have to face financial problems in the future.”