When the Hungarian Opera House (Magyar Állami Operaház) opened in 1884, the creation of a National Ballet Company to be based there was a natural fit – ballet performances had been given in Hungary during the previous century, usually in the salons of noble estates. The National Ballet has been operating under the aegis of the Opera House ever since, although current renovations at this ornate landmark mean that productions are being staged at partner venue the Erkel Theatre (Erkel Színház). Top international companies, most notably from Russia, also perform here.
Where Hungary also excels is in its folk tradition. Look out for shows by the Hungarian National Dance Ensemble, formerly the Honvéd Ensemble, founded in 1949, a 40-strong troupe whose repertoire covers the Carpathian Basin. When not performing in America or for the Hungarian diaspora across the world, the MNT can be seen at Budapest’s Várkert Bazaar (Varkert Bazár) and National Theatre (Nemzeti Színház).
Bridging the gap between traditional and contemporary, the Budapest Dance Theatre company was formed in 1991. The Budapest Dance Theatre building, which had dated back to the 1700s, closed in 2014 while a new location was developed at the Millenáris complex. In the meantime, the Budapest Dance Theatre company went from strength to strength, performing in Rome, Vienna and London, and 70 times a year in Hungary. Its current repertoire includes dance interpretations of ‘100 Years of Solitude’ and Ravel.