Musically driven: Spotlight on Hungarian dance with the Gyor Ballet

“Ours is a state-sponsored, nationally rated group with international reputation. We never stop. We always set new goals to bring our audience to the greatest artistic experience,” explained Velekei.

May 16, 2019 11:06
2 minute read.
Musically driven: Spotlight on Hungarian dance with the Gyor Ballet

THESE PHOTOS of some of the cast members in action were taken last week at a rehearsal of ‘In a Stranger’s Grave.’. (photo credit: SÁNDOR OROSZ)


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Situated on one of the most important routes in all of Europe, the city of Gyor is a sparkling Hungarian gem. Smaller than Budapest, half-way to Vienna and perched upon the Danube, the city is a tourist destination for travelers in the know. And though Gyor is the sixth largest city in Hungary, it is home to the second largest Hungarian dance company, as the company’s artistic director, Laszlo Velekei, boasts. 

Ballet Gyor was founded in 1979 by graduates of the Hungarian Ballet Institute as a ground from which they could experiment with different styles of choreography. A repertory company from day one, Ballet Gyor established a unique voice, one that blended together the folk roots of the company, ballet technique and contemporary creations. Over the years, different artistic directors have influenced new works coming into the repertoire, stretching farther toward classical ballet at times and delving into the experimental at others. Today, the troupe inhabits the grandiose building of Gyor’s National Theater.

“Ours is a state-sponsored, nationally rated group with international reputation. We never stop. We always set new goals to bring our audience to the greatest artistic experience,” explained Velekei in a recent interview with The Jerusalem Post.

“We choose guest artists to fit in the image of the Ballet Company of Gyor and to take new vibes and inspirations to the dancers. Over the past seasons, the company have worked with well-known choreographers like Robert North, Ben Van Cauwenbergh, Christopher Bruce, Cayetano Soto, Gyula Harangozó Jr., András Lukács, Leo Mujic, Gustavo Ramirez Sansano [and] György Vámos.”

The company is gearing up to visit Israel for three performances in three venues as part of the Hungarian Culture Year in Israel. The company’s tour is supported by the Embassy of Hungary in Israel.

While the company works with international choreographers, it will showcase a purely Hungarian program while in Israel.

Gyor Ballet will present a two-part program including Bolero by Andras Lukacs as well as Velekei’s PianoPlays Études to Works by Liszt and Wagner. Performances will be held in the Jerusalem Theater, Gesher Theater and the Herzliya Performing Arts Center.

Velekei’s PianoPlays is performed to live music played on stage by Polish pianist Janos Balazs. “The birth of this joint production, PianoPlays, is the result of a work in Warsaw with Janos. Music was the origin of the creation,” said Velekei.

Together with Balazs, Velekei took the chosen score to the dancers of the company. “The dancers of the ensemble keep me constantly motivated. There exists no quick answer in art. It is not easy to make a creative process with the dancers. But if I have a special inspiration, such a musical challenge or something else, I start! I always strive to renew my own artistic language, and PianoPlays is a piece of that. Our performance is a special and sensitive approach to the music.”

The second work, Bolero, is also musically driven. In this choreography, up-and-coming choreographer Andras Lukacs presents his interpretation of Ravel’s opus. Men and women alike dance in flowing black skirts, which accent the lifts of their legs and echo the centrifugal force created by their turns. The stark aesthetic of this work draws a parallel to the repetitive and ceremonious music, offering a fresh take on a classic.

Gyor Ballet will perform in Israel from June 1-3. For more information, visit, or

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