The Central European Dance Theatre’s troupe choreographs a moving future amidst a venue’s solid roots in the art of dance’s whimsical past…

Entering the Central European Dance Theatre (CEDT) at Bethlen Gábor tér might make one think they are taking a step back into the past. The building it resides in hearkens back to the early 20th century and the twilight-tinged years between Europe’s two cataclysmic wars. Csaba Szögi, the Founding Director of the Theatre, likes it that way.

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“Our one-of-a-kind lobby reflects the 20s and 30s, when the theatre was first opened and showcased cabaret performances,” she said. “Later it was turned into a cinema and, in the 90s, back into a dance theatre with a rehearsal studio where the dancers can undertake their daily requirements.”

The theme of cabaret and the roaring 20s has been well-evoked by the restoration of its status as a dance house, but the technique and style of the performances is definite- ly more in the vein of the forward-looking and young. A juxtaposition, to be sure. The shows “are of the freshest contemporary ‘dance theatre’ styles,” Szögi asserts. “Our current troupe started forming in 2006. They are all in their 20s and all are from the MU Terminál studio.” MU Studio runs a pre-professional program for dancers from all over the world. It cultivates a humongous amount of talent, along with a work ethic that suits the CEDT and its diverse productions well.

“The repertoire now includes a number of countries,” Szögi explained. “Our invited choreographers’ personal styles are reflected in each performance. Our dancers train daily to become more accomplished professionally, and to work with our shows’ creators.” The dancers have to be flexible. No two productions will require the exact same movements or expressive styles that CEDT hosts. “We have a lyrical voice and emotional dance performance in Aréna, choreographed by Duda Éva, and a Shakespearean, King Lear-influenced performance called Vasszavonhatatlan (Irrevocable).”

But the dancers do not always toil to simply bring the works of others to life. Szögi encourages creative growth. Ones initiative, Io Sono, came together without a choreographer from our own dancers’ creativity and personal shades of improvisational performance.” It’s a natural outgrowth of the creative critical mass Szögi has gathered in the Theatre. Nurtured, perhaps, by her own path in the art. She led the group in 1989. “I was a dancer before, primarily folk and soloist, and later a contemporary choreographer.”

Io Sono, or I Am, featured six 20-something dancers in each performance (two men and four women). They are not choreographed and dance independently, but they do play off of each other, each starting at the self. The goal is, according to the description at CEDT’s website, to find as many layers of the self as they can, and share them with the audience.It’s juxtaposition again, and in triplicate at that… dancers find the self in the other, offer the singular personal to the impersonal mass, and dig deeper into their selves to elevate each other and a rapt audience.

— Central European Dance Theatre, VII Budapest, Bethlen Gábor tér 3 Tickets: Tel: (+36 1) 342 7163, email:,

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