Following the success of last year’s production of The Wooden Prince, the Hungarian National Ballet presents a new DanceTriptych dedicated to Béla Bartók’s musical genius as a composer for the dance stage. The triple bill premiering on 3 February 2024 includes new choreographies of The Miraculous Mandarin and Dance Suite.
The works of Béla Bartók are impossible to miss from the repertoire of the ballet company and the orchestra of the Hungarian State Opera. The world premiere of The Wooden Prince more than a century ago was an undeniable milestone in the history of the institution. The ballet reminiscent of fairy tales was reimagined for stage by László Velekei in spring 2023 to critical acclaim. The new productions of The Miraculous Mandarin evoking the bustle of a big city and Dance Suite inspired by folklore now make the triple bill Bartók DanceTriptych complete, the former staged by Marianna Venekei, the latter by Kristóf Várnagy.
Marianna Venekei is well-known for her choreographies focusing on spectacular and grand emotions as well as her practical approach to classic works to bring them closer to today’s audience. While Bartók’s emblematic music remains untouched, the new production presents the figure of the Mandarin as an apparition rather than a phenomenon. According to Venekei’s concept, he brings salvation to the Girl. “In my version, the Girl falls in love with the Mandarin. I want to explore what she experiences, what the encounter means to her. Thus, my message is about redemption. Looking at reality and human nature, there may be no escape: suffering and torture, violence, and abuse are as old as humanity,” states the choreographer.
The work Dance Suite first premiered in 1923, the 50th anniversary of the birth of the unified Budapest. Bartók’s initial concept of connecting the peoples living along the Danube through their music is still valid in our days. “Various art forms have an immense role in building bridges, and Dance Suite is wonderful example of diversity bringing fantastic results”, says Kristóf Várnagy. In his choreography tradition is fused with modern, and his production is a journey from the classic forms to the freer structures. “I find it amusing how several playlists on the internet features music by Bartók, and I also started to regard him as a classic contemporary. Therefore, my Dance Suite is »a classic with a twist«”.
The Hungarian National Ballet is joined on stage by the students of the Hungarian National Ballet Institute, the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra is conducted by Gergely Vajda.