Hungary’s famous ExperiDance ensemble is to visit Germany with its widely popular play Once Upon a Time of the Emperor. The play will be introduced to the German public first in the city of Bremen, between 9 and 11 December. The premier could be the first step towards a European tour across several countries.
The play was acted out for the fiftieth time in Budapest’s RaM Colosseum auditorium on 23 November. The performance was followed by a roundtable conversation which centred upon the genesis and future of the piece.
As head of the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra Farkas Nándor Beke explained, the concept of a joint performance was first formed together with producer Tibor Vona; subsequently, the two contacted ExperiDance’s choreographer and art director Sándor Román and the concept was outlined in a couple of months. “Two Hungaricums appear on the stage [at once], the orchestra’s leader said.
ExperiDance founder and art director Sándor Román recalled that writing the piece confronted them with several challenges and the script was rewritten four times in a bid to achieve perfection. A wide range of literary works were considered from Petrarca to Aristotle before the piece was finalised. Co-director Zsolt Meskó explained that he primarily described emotions instead of movements in the dance script. His plan from the beginnings was to “create a story which touches everyone”, adding that “our story leads the heroes from fear to love”. ExperiDance’s producer and co-founder Tibor Vona explained that the present play is the third co-production with the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra, emphasising that “to this date, nobody has yet linked our nation’s music and dance culture in such a form and in such quality”.
Queen Elizabeth, known as Sissy, married Emperor Franz Joseph I in 1854, and became the First Lady of the Empire of Austria at the age of 16. The beautiful, sensitive and untamed woman was fleeing the suffocating constraints inherent in her role throughout her life. She found happiness and love in Hungary, where the nobility adored her, especially Count Gyula Andrássy, considered to be the most handsome man in the country. However, their affection could never be fulfilled.
The legendary love inspired the co-production of ExperiDance Production and the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra. The heroes of the dance drama are a glorious queen, a daring count and a beautiful gypsy girl, who are dancing either the tense or agonising moments of never fulfilled passion.
The amorous encounters and separations take place at a splendid ball, where the soloists of the Budapest Gypsy Symphony Orchestra provide lively dance music. In addition to the dancers, the band, which has been officially a Hungarian Speciality since March 2014, i.e. one of the top national performances in Hungary, guarantees a great theatre experience.
The music of the play features masterpiece melodies including Franz Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody, Vittorio Monti: Czardas, Johann Strauss: The Blue Danube and Johannes Brahms’ Hungarian Dances.
Beyond providing high-stand artistic entertainment, ExperiDance Production aims to popularise the revolutionised Hungarian dance culture throughout the entire world. The strength of the ensemble, which has been successful since 2000, is the taming of fiery Hungarian dances with popular international and contemporary trends or intensifying them to the extreme. Fourteen years in numbers: success in 12 countries, over 1500 sold-out performances, 1.8 million spectators, 60 dancers, a 40-strong backstage, 14 whole-night shows, a first production with a lifespan of over 500 performances.