World-class Győr Ballet Dance Company Performs GisL Online for Bartok Celebration


László Velekei

On April 6 at 7 p.m., ballet lovers from all over the world will have the opportunity to watch the renowned Győr Ballet dance a new interpretation of the much-loved romantic ballet Giselle, first performed in Paris in 1841 and renamed GisL for this production.

The performance is part of the Bartok Spring International Art Weeks Festival at Müpa Budapest, which is marking the 140th anniversary of the birth of Béla Bartók. It is also a celebration of László Velekei’s first year as Director of the Győr Ballet.

Velekei was appointed to the top role in July 2020, after a remarkable 23 years at the company.

“When I first joined the Győr [Ballet], I thought I would move to a new company after three or four years, searching for inspiration,” Velekei tells me.

“But, to my surprise, it didn’t happen like that. I went up through the echelon. I started as a corps de ballet then became a semi-soloist dancer. From there, I worked as a soloist, choreographer, and artistic director but it never occurred to me that I would be Director of the Győr [Ballet]. I’m glad it happened this way, not simply because I gained an enormous amount of experience, but also because I’m helping keep the company secure.”

Rising to the Challenge

Despite his first year as director being somewhat unusual because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response to it, Velekei says, “I can’t complain. Since I began as director, we’ve achieved all the goals we set for the first six months. For example, we were able to give outdoor performances such as Anna Karenina at Szarvas [160 km southeast of Budapest], which won “Best Performance” and “Best Choreography Award” presented by Péter Fekete, Secretary of State for Culture. Most importantly, through vigilance and constant, rigorous testing, we have made sure that everyone in the company has stayed safe and healthy.”

Like all performing arts organizations globally, the Győr Ballet has also endured the experience of losing personal contact with its loyal audience. Fortunately, it has strengthened its presence online, as the much-anticipated production of GisL for Bartók Spring demonstrates.

With choreography by Velekei and music by Félix Lajkó, this production of the mystical, beautiful and chilling ballet promises to be special. As Velekei explains, “With every work, I have a vision. With Giselle, it was the image of being danced to death that inspired me. For our GisL, I have condensed the original two acts of the ballet into one to make the story of Giselle’s broken heart and ordeals in the afterlife even more powerful. Our production is theater, ballet and a concert in its own right.”

Looking to the future, Velekei is keen to continue living the values shared by the artists, dancers and support team that make up the Győr Ballet Dance Company.

“We are preparing for another collaboration with Müpa entitled One Way To Heaven, co-produced by Jamie Winchester and Róbert Hrutka. After this, as part of our TánciTánci Baby Dance theater program, will present a children’s performance called Costume Ball. This will be followed by the 16th Hungarian Dance Festival. We also have a number of invitations to perform all over Hungary. Most of all, we hope that life will go back to normal. Once that happens, we’ll have a lot of work to do.”

Admission for the performance of GisL in the Bartók Spring virtual auditorium is free. Find out more at

This article was first published in the Budapest Business Journal print issue of  March 26, 2021.

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