Folk may come to mind when picturing Hungarian dance but in Budapest, one man is reinventing the game. Pál Frenák is one of the city’s greatest home-grown talents and his unique eye for movement has resulted in jaw-dropping productions around the world. As founder of Compagnie Pal Frenak, he has swapped his dancing shoes for choreography and teaching. Ahead of the Budapest Spring Festival, at which he’ll showcase his latest production, XX_&_Fragments, Frenák lifts the curtain on dance Budapest, the Hungarian capital of contemporary dance.
Growing up in Budapest, what inspired your passion for dance?
My first mother tongue was sign-language, and I used movement and facial expression as a way of communication. Growing up, I started to use gestures and dance to express myself and, somehow, my talents were discovered. I went to Endre Jeszenszky (Frenák’s dance master – renowned Hungarian dancer and choreographer) and suddenly found myself in a truly inspiring environment. That was the moment I seriously became acquainted with dance.
What makes Hungary’s dance scene so exciting?
I believe one of the most exciting things in the Hungarian dance scene is the versatility of the different genres. There are many talented dancers and choreographers in classical ballet, contemporary dance and folk. It is amazing to see how these genres can exist together. On the other hand, everyone is excited about the new National Dance Theatre project – the new building will be open in the spring 2018. I am sure that it will affect the dance and cultural scene very positively.
Why is the Budapest Spring Festival such an important event on the city’s cultural calendar?
The Budapest Spring Festival is a great opportunity for talented national and international artists to introduce themselves into Budapest’s cultural scene. I think the festival has a gripping programme in which everybody can find something special and unique.
Do you have any tips for first-time visitors to Budapest?
Recently, a gastronomic revolution has started in Budapest. I love organic food and it is nice to see that there are more and more restaurants where this type of food is available – Szimpla Farmer’s Market is a must-see on Sundays. One of my favourite places in the city is Ludwig Museum. I also think that if someone likes international contemporary arts, they must visit one of Trafó’s events. Finally, no one can leave without a walk along the Danube Promenade.