„At the premiere I lose my play” – Interview with Sándor Román

Hungarian, still international, traditional, still ground-breaking – this is the ExperiDance Production, which rephrase the definition of Hungarian folk dance play by play. Sándor Román, who is not only the art director but the heart of the ExperiDance, talked about the core of folk dance and breathtaking performances – as well as the effort and sweat behind the moves.

We sat down with Sándor Román, who is not only the choreographer but the heart of the ExperiDance, about the folk dance and the breath-taking  performances – and all the effort and sweat behind the moves.

How did you strike upon the world of dance?

I am from a small village, where folk dance was a part of the everyday life. People were much closer to each other and to nature. I remember, it was my mother who gave me a bottle of palinka and told me to give it to the old neighbour living next door, and ask him to teach me a few folk dance moves.

But still, you had to take a long journey leading to the Ballet Institution, where you studied.

In my childhood, the dancers of my little town were the best in the country. That’s why we could go to the World Youth Meeting in Cuba, where Fidel Castro gave me two kisses on my face. Dance gave me the chance to have a better life, to come to Budapest, and to study at the Ballet Institution.

How do you recall your first performance?

It was the István, a király (Stephen, the King). We preformed it outside in the evening on the Királydomb. We could not see the audience from the stage, we had no idea how many people would be interested in us. It was only after the last scene, when the lights turned on, and we, the dancers could realize what an amazing crowd got together to watch the show.

Which one was your favourite performance?

It is like as if I would ask you to choose among your fingers. Something special and miraculous was born in each and every play, and on the contrary: every play has a phase when it struggles, but in the end, it is always worth suffering a bit.

What kind of expectations did you have when you started the ExperiDance?

I did not have any expectations, I always danced with love and passion. My masters used to tell me that I should dance for pure pleasure, because I can mediate values through it. I can show the world, who we, Hungarians really are.

What is the message that foreigners can get from Hungarian folk dance?

Hungarian folk music is so unique, but the world understands, even appreciates this oddity. People can identify themselves with the stories we play. These are not always that sugar-coated, Hollywood-like stories: there are sad, devastated and happy characters too. The point is to make the audience forget about the ordinary weekdays and bring them into the world of the play.

You are a choreographer, a dancer and a director. Which profession suits you the best?

I am a choreographer, whose job is to put together a performance.  A good choreographer manages everything that has something to do with the moves. I have to take care the actions of the lightening, the whole setting and the music. A good choreographer knows how to motivate his dancers: help them deliver the performances successfully. That makes you enthusiastic and inspire you to get better and better.

What are you working on right now?

I am working on Cinderella, its premiere will be in September. The composer is writing the music for the dancing parts so that I could work on the choreography.  The casting will be in April and by that time I am going to be ready with the choreography. After that, the actors will learn the songs and the dances. In September, I put it all together and within one month, every detail will be perfectly carried out.

What is your favourite part in this process?

When I create the choreography. This is the time when magic happens. Every time I have to find out something new and fresh, that’s what makes me the happiest.  The dancers and I always create our own world in the fitting room. If we do a good job, our efforts will have a successful afterlife. At the premiere I lose my play, it doesn’t belong to me any longer. The dancers, the marketing managers, the audience, they all fall in love with my creature. They want it for themselves, stealing it from me.

What are you doing this time?

I become kind of lonely after each premiere a bit, so I start to work on another play as fast as I can. The future will decide, whether my play will stay up in the mind’s eye or not. Naturally, the artists can work for the success as well, if they do their best each and every day. That is the first thing that comes to my mind every morning, and I try to live according to this.