Bruised female hearts and burning desires in the new Hungarian National Ballet premiere

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The new modern ballet show of the Hungarian National Ballet presents Firebirds, a band-new choreography by Marianna Venekei on 8 May 2021. The double bill entitled Tout Rouge can be viewed online in the Opera Stream series from 8:00 p.m. featuring a recent recording of 5 Tangos by Hans van Manen.

"Women have the same instinct for finding the love they feed on as birds have for finding seeds or fish." These words by Hungarian author Sándor Márai inspired Marianna Venekei to create her own choreography to the famous Firebird by Igor Stravinsky. The Harangozó and Seregi Awards recipient first ballet master of the Hungarian National Ballet, whose previous work, the full-length A Streetcar Named Desire was presented by the company in 2017, has been intrigued by the Russian composer's piece since the beginning of her career as a choreographer; the mysterious beginning and the intensity of the composition are determining factors of her work that premieres online on 8 May 2021.

The show without a plot transfers the witty, ironic mood from Márai's words in depicting the relationships between men and women by introducing seven types of females: the dynamic amazon, the elegant diva, the passionate lover, the shy damsel, the know-it-all dame, the woman living in the world of opposites, and the ever-tortured lover. The characters choose partners according to their unique needs, and aspects like being social creatures, solitude, and the question of "how to go on" are all present in the piece.

The visual design and the movements of the thirty-minute show are determined by an abstract set dominating the stage. Set designers Éva Szendrényi and Fruzsina Augusztinyi were inspired by a relic found on display at the Aquincum Museum. The stylized bird-shaped Celtic clasp (fibula) also becomes a character in the choreography as the dancers occupy it on the revolving stage. The spectacle also features costumes by Krisztina Berzsenyi and lighting designed by Balázs Csontos, the choreographer was assisted by Ágnes Sárközi-Holler. The cast includes members of the Hungarian National Ballet: Lea Földi, Cristina Balaban, Inés Furuhashi-Huber, Miyu Takamory, Ágnes Kelemen, Artemisz Pisla, Yuka Asai, Noel Ágoston Kovács, Balázs Majoros, Carlos Taravillo Mahillo, Iurii Kekalo, Dénes Darab, András Rónai and Francesco Sardella.

The second part of the show, 5 Tangos is one of Hans van Manen’s best known and, deservedly, most popular works: the superb music by Astor Piazzolla and the dance are combined to evoke a pulsing metropolis and a world of fiery and passionate instincts. Sometimes sultrily lethargic and other times set to accelerating tempos featuring virtuoso elements, this thrilling work plays with solo and group scenes to reveal the changing games of the individual and the community, the many faces and layers of love and attraction and a portrait of an era. The recording of the show made at the Eiffel Art Studios in September 2020 features soloists Lili Felméry and Gergely Leblanc, as well as Yuliya Golovyna, Inés Furuhashi-Huber, Gaetano Cottonaro and Dmitry  Diachkov in the Pas de Quatre scene.

Photo by Valter Berecz
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