This Jubilee, Sadlers Wells offered us a peek into Hungarian culture through a beautiful evening of historical dance and music in ‘Liszt Mosaics’. A transcendence of time and tradition, the show was a spectacle that mixed folklore with more modern elements and showed that Hungarian dance culture is far from being stuck in the past. A mosaic of 400 different traditional dances, mixed with modern creativity and compelling live music, crafted an experience that played with history and modernity and offered innovation through tradition.
The first half of the show served as an introduction to the core history and folklore of Hungarian dance, and how it influenced classical music. The scenes followed a certain dramaturgy and narrative and followed the tradition of telling stories through dance, resulting in a rather theatrical experience. The live music was amazingly performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra conducted by Oleg Caetani and added a touch of immersivity and grandeur to the whole experience. The music was a central part of the performance and felt like a guiding force that gave movement to the dancers. However, the cheers and smiles of the dancers were also one of the most captivating aspects of the show and transmitted a rather contagious good mood.
But despite the traditional costumes and choreographies, the show clearly wanted to innovate and launch itself into modernity. In the second half of the performance, centuries of music got mixed together through instrumental and song to celebrate one of Hungary’s most famous composers, Franz Liszt. The choreographies were split into three pillars that explored three different aspects, different “mosaics” of the artist: Liszt the Hungarian, Liszt the priest and Liszt the virtuoso. This structured fragmentation allowed for a truly educational experience for anyone in the English audience who is not familiar with the composer or with Hungarian folklore.
Overall, the evening was a truly immersive experience, a mosaic of history, the present, music, tradition, and innovation. This premiere in the London scene will hopefully be followed by many more in the UK. Check out this event and more at Sadler Wells at: www.sadlerswells.com
Photo credit: Hungarian State Folk Ensemble
Reviewed by Céline Galletti – Celine is a volunteer writer for Abundant Art. Originally from France and Italy, she follows her passion for writing and art by studying Comparative Literature at UCL, London. As an international student living in London, she is determined to fully experience and understand the city’s vibrant arts scene, and be a part of its creative storm.