Dance Dialogue: Focus on Péter Ertl, Executive Director and Zoltán Sándor, International Manager at National Dance Theater Budapest

8 Apr
Five Questions with Executive Director Péter Ertl and International Manager Zoltán Sándor

– What are your positions or roles with the Nemzeti Táncszínház (National Dance Theatre Budapest)?
Péter:  I, as the executive director of the theater, support the organizational work. National Dance Theatre Budapest has been serving Hungarian culture since 2001 as the center of the Hungarian dance scene. Its main task is to represent Hungarian dance and to promote it both nationally and internationally. Approximately 300 performances are presented annually. The new building of the National Dance Theatre Budapest was opened in 2019. The theatre has a Great Hall with a capacity of 368 seats, a small stage with 120 seats. The café in the new lobby – independently from the theatrical season – also serves the concept of creating a new community space. National Dance Theatre Budapest organizes (generally in springtime) the annual Budapest Dance Festival, which is coordinated by the team at the National Dance Theatre Budapest.
Zoltán: I began my career as a dancer, but for last 10 years I have been working as a cultural manager. In January 2021, I began my position as the International Manager at the National Dance Theatre Budapest, under the direction of Péter Ertl. As the International Manager, I handle the international relations of National Dance Theatre Budapest and organizing the international performers of Budapest Dance Festival.

– Are your drawn to a particular aesthetic or genre when you are programming?

Basically, our festival represents modern and contemporary dance companies, but when organizing it, we always strive to include as many genres as possible in our program with a constantly updated professional concept. Thus, in addition to contemporary Hungarian and foreign folk dance, classical and neoclassical ballet have been included in our program.

We are focusing rather on quality, variety, colourfulness and internationalism rather than genres in our program. We try to present a wide range of styles for the Hungarian public when inviting foreign companies. At the same time, our goal is to introduce Budapest and Hungary to the wider circle of international dance.

– Is your programming national or international in scope?

Budapest Dance Festival is an annual international cultural event in Hungary. We compile the program from the performances of Hungarian modern and contemporary dance companies, which inform the repertoire of the National Dance Theater Budapest, and we also schedule performances by foreign companies.

– Do you gravitate to particular country or region and why?

National Dance Theater Budapest pays special attention to establishing new contacts with foreign, European, overseas and Asian professionals, and to expand the existing relationships. Therefore, every year we host artists from different nations, dance companies from several countries, but the selection is made on an artistic rather than geographical basis.

– If an artist believes that you might be interested in his or her work, what steps should they take?

Péter: The National Dance Theatre is very fortunate to have a dedicated position for international relationships.  Zoltán as the International Manager of National Dance Theater Budapest joined our staff in 2021.  He has a strong background in dance from his years as a dancer himself.  Zoltán follows the international dance scene all year round and constantly refers us the material of the most exciting dance companies/productions. We work closely with professional companies performing at National Dance Theater Budapest so, if possible, premieres or performances can take place in the frameworks of the festival.  My door is always open to those who want to join as a new performer to National Dance Theater Budapest.

Zoltán: Péter and I, as well as the other competent colleagues of the National Dance Theater Budapest, are constantly monitoring the Hungarian and international dance scene throughout the year and, thus, we have the opportunity to present the works of more and more exciting artists and companies in the program of the Budapest Dance Festival. Usually we reach out directly to the companies that are invited to perform at the National Dance Theater Budapest, but the management of the theater is open and happy to receive proposals from companies and artists from different countries who want to perform for the Hungarian public. Of course, we have a limited possibility to invite foreign artists and companies, but we are happy to keep materials and invite the companies later, when the right time has arrived. I am reachable under the following address: zoltan.sandor@dancetheatre.hu

Credit for the photo of the National Dance Theatre Budapest: ©Hlinka Zsolt
Credit for Zoltán’s portrait photo: ©Csendes Krisztina

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