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Every year without fail, the Hungarian National Ballet proves that its capabilities know no bounds: it manages to entrance audiences with everything from grand ballets requiring spectacular classical technique to contemporary dance pieces interspersed with acrobatic elements. The latest addition to their wide repertoire is The Pygmalion Effect by Boris Eifman from 10 June 2023 at the Budapest Opera House.

In Greek mythology, the unmarried king and sculptor, Pygmalion falls in love with his own work, as his sculpture of a woman turns out to be so perfect and life-like. Just as in the ballet The Pygmalion Effect star ballet dancer Leon makes a true dancer out of Gala, who has come from a poor background.

“This ballet is a choreographed interpretation of the myth of artist and his work, shedding light on how much art and life are interconnected yet distinct from each other. The ballet focuses on a girl living in deprivation, who finds richness and performance perfection in dance, where the elusive lightness of beauty and movement can only be achieved through hard work, while the seemingly attractive life on stage does not save one from being lonely. With the guidance of the famous dancer, the heroine steps onto a path on which changing her body seems to be an entertaining experiment in the beginning, but turns into real drama in the end”, says Boris Eifman, the choreographer of the tragicomic ballet set to virtuoso music Johann Strauss II.

Eifman started working as a choreographer in the seventies, and among his pieces, his ballets inspired by works of literature are the most valued. His ensemble, Eifman Ballet revolutionized the definition of classical dance in Russia with its modernity and expressive power. The audience of the Hungarian State Opera could admire his work before, when his ballet The Karamazov based on Dostoyevsky’s novel was performed.

The Hungarian premiere of The Pygmalion Effect is presented in a triple cast including Gergő Ármin Balázsi, Étoile of the 2022/23 season. The Hungarian State Opera Orchestra is conducted by David Coleman.

Photo by Attila Nagy