Unique artistic standard, spectacular scenery and international fame are the three goals of the Presidance that has just returned from a national 20-station tour. They are now rehearsing for a brand new production opening in May.
The private company was founded in 2008 to create an exquisite 21st century dance performance by using and preserving the unique Hungarian cultural heritage with quality that would enchant people of all age-groups. “We combined authentic Hungarian folk music with funk, jazz, rock and electronic music genres, creating a unique ethno-funk style, which is our very own”, says Bertalan Vári dancer-choreographer, one of the founding members of the company. “We want to spread a new positive Hungarian cultural image at national forums,” he continues, adding that their three productions performed so far, namely ‘Hungarythm,’ ‘Mazel Tov’ and ‘Christmas Now,’ have split public opinion. “Some are just simply not fond of the idea to re-produce and re-make Hungarian folk music, but I hope we manage to draw back more and more people towards the Hungarian folk music with our more digestible and popular tunes.” According to him, they were influenced by the productions of STOMP and Michael Flatley, to name a few, but, as he put it, “they are only elements we used to create something new and innovative, a never seen before genre, which I believe provide a missing gap.” The company is currently rehearsing for the opening of a Gypsy show, the ‘Gypsy Rhapsody’ that will be performed on Budapest stage on May 13-14, with Romanian, Hungarian and Gypsy music, show elements and soloists.
The first steps
In the casting held two years ago at the Palace of Arts, Vari chose his dancers from 108 applicants. “We have picked talented young Hungarian dancers. Many of them graduated from the Hungarian Dance Academy and despite their young age, they have exceptional professionalism gained from such well-known dance groups as the Honved Folk Dance Group and ExperiDance.
The dancers are accompanied by Anselmo Crew that plays live the music of the Kerekes Band (the ensemble selected to be the Hungarian Ambassador for the “European Year of The Intercultural Dialogue” EU program in 2008 by the Hungarian Ministry of Education and Culture) and the Csík Music Group (who participated in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney representing Hungary and the Hungarian folk music). The group is completed by an artist from the famous Cirque du Soleil Company with his breath-taking acrobatic tricks. The decor of the production was dreamt onto stage by János Szabolcsi - who has also worked with Steven Spielberg. “We achieved great success within a radically short time”, says Vari. “Some people come to us to ask whether we give private lessons. We have even performed ‘behind bars’, at the canteen of the Kozma Street prison, which, in fact, was a unique experience.”
“Our first piece ‘Hungarythm’ is exceptionally well-received,” says Vári. “This show literally grabs you and takes you on a journey, where you can see flashbacks from Hungarian history. The audience is sometimes in tears, other times it is rolling with laughter, which is exactly what we want: stirring emotions.” Before the premiere in Hungary, the performance was shown at a festival in Montreal, Canada where they received invitation to other festivals in Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico, Singapore and Hong Kong. The group was invited to the New York Broadway and producers are negotiating about the season of 2011. “It depends on our budget, because the LED panels, the special lights and stage elements we use are not easy to ship, but we’ll see,” Vári says. After all, this is our dream, to show the world what we are capable of, what the Hungarian virtue is capable of.