Behind the scenes with the Hungarian National Ballet in Budapest…

Swan Lake (c) Attila Nagy

I feel so lucky to be able to visit amazing ballet companies around the world. Last weekend I was in Budapest to celebrate my birthday with my husband, and took the opportunity to spend a day with the Hungarian National Ballet.

I was lucky to watch the company rehearse for their premiere of Sleeping Beauty, interview principal dancer, Gergely Leblanc and Ballet Master / Ballet Director Tamás Solymosi at the Opera House.

Manon (c) Zsofia Palyi
Manon (c) Zsofia Palyi

It was fabulous to go behind the scenes and watch the first stage dress rehearsal, where the company takes their studio preparation to the stage. Sleeping Beauty is sumptuous, the set gilded gold, decadent costumes, and glowing chandeliers.

Principal Dancer – Gergely Leblanc

Watching Gergely Leblanc before interviewing him was fascinating; all the while I was thinking about new questions I wanted to ask him. At only 23 he’s a young principal dancer but he definitely deserves the title, the long list of awards and accolades that are bestowed upon him. In Budapest (and no doubt across Hungary) he’s a deserving celebrity.

Romeo & Juliet (c) Attila Nagy
Romeo & Juliet (c) Attila Nagy

He’s so physically beautiful both on and off stage, he has such long and elegant lines and he dances with a lightness. From talking with him he has both ballet and Budapest deep in his heart. He is just lovely to talk to and I feel privileged that he gave me his very first interview conducted in English.

Artistic Director – Tamás Solymosi

I interviewed Tamás Solymosi as soon as I arrived, but not before asking the lovely old Hungarian guard at the stage door how to correctly pronounce Tamas’ last name! And it is not how it looks! In fact it’s totally different and I was so glad I had asked otherwise I would’ve embarrassed myself and that’s not something I wanted to do with such a prominent figure in the dance world.

Etudes, photo by Attila Nagy
Etudes, photo by Attila Nagy

Tamas has heritage, he was a principal dancer with the company and guested with the world’s best ballet companies around the world. His brother was also a famous dancer with The Royal Ballet.

This is a man who knows all there is to know about ballet and it was fascinating to talk to him about his dual role with the Hungarian National Ballet and the vision that he’s working “26 hours a day, 8 days a week” to fulfil.

Onegin, photo by Pál Csillag
Onegin, photo by Pál Csillag

He’s completely modernising the company, bringing in new dancers from outside the country, new choreographers to bring new works to the company to ensure that the Hungarian National Ballet retains its place within the ballet world.

Tamas was absolutely lovely to speak with, a man so busy, so important to give so much of his time. He’s fascinating, engaging and really drew me into the story and meaning of the company.

I will continue to watch the Hungarian National Ballet and only wish I was there for the opening night of Sleeping Beauty!

If you’re planning on visiting the Budapest, I have to recommend the most amazing hotel The Brody House. Stay nowhere else!!

Savannah x

Wonderful Team

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