U.S. DEBUT OF HUNGARIAN CONTEMPORARY THEATER/DANCE COMPANY, THE SYMPTOMS, AT PEAK PERFORMANCES, OCTOBER 16-19
Engagement features two American premieres
When Réka Szabó was a 15-year old gymnastic student in Budapest, she stumbled on an underground workshop in modern dance, an art form banned as one of the “plagues of the West” by Communist Hungary where she lived. Szabo was intrigued, curious and determined enough to brave the authorities, forecasting the grit and imagination she would show in founding of The Symptoms in 2002, a performance collective, which rapidly evolved into one of Hungary’s leading contemporary dance/theater troupes. Now celebrating its 12th anniversary, the company makes its U.S. debut at Peak Performances’s Alexander Kasser Theater, October 16-19.
At Peak, the company will present “Apropos,” a two-part dance, opening with “ I will be all of these things one day,” a solo performed by Szabó during which the 44 year old dancer/choreographer questions the choices she has made in her life. Can you break from the past? Can you make a new start? Dancing to a mix of music created by Hungarian composer Attila Dóra, Szabó transforms herself from the young girl she once was, into the middle-aged woman she is now, and into the older woman she imagines she will become.
“I don’t remember being raised like this” began as a workshop in the Netherlands, with its present staging developed specifically for the company’s U.S. debut. Originally inspired by the BBC’s “7 Up’ documentary series, which followed a group of children through their lives, “I don’t remember being raised like this” is a collection of real and fictive memories leading up to the dancers’ imagined age of 77. Integrated into the dance is interactive real-time video that instantly responds to the dancers’ movement, amplifying the inherent theatricality of the work. For a 13 second look at the stunning video, please use link at end of release.
Where To Go
The Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University is located at 1 Normal Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey 07043. Tickets are $20, and are available at the box office, www.peakperfs.org, or by calling 973-655-5112. The performances will take place Thursday, October 16 and Friday, October 17 at 7:30pm; Saturday, October 18 at 8pm and Sunday, October 19 at 3pm.
Charter bus service is provided from New York City’s Port Authority Bus Terminal– arcade on 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues–to the Alexander Kasser Theater ($10 per person, round trip) for all Saturday and Sunday performances. Bus reservations may be made by calling 973-655- 5112 or by visiting www.peakperfs. org. For train service, available only on weekdays, go online to www.njtransit.com or call 973-275-5555.
For restaurants close to the Alexander Kasser Theater, visit www.destinationmontclair. com.
Réka Szabó (Artistic Director/Creator/Performer), who has a degree in mathematics and computer science, fell in love with dance when she was 15. She was born in a country then under Communist rule, where classical ballet and folk dance were the only types of dance officially recognized as an art form, and contemporary dance was banned as one of the “plagues of the West.” She took up apparatus gymnastics as a small child. Then, at age 15, she stumbled into an underground workshop where Hungarian dancers who had been to the West were teaching modern dance techniques already regarded as “classic” beyond the Iron Curtain (Graham, Limón, etc.). From that point on, she absorbed influences of all kinds, being interested in everything she could lay her hands on. Even as she finished high school, earned her BA, and started teaching at the Budapest University of Technology, she would spend most of her time with dance.
Following the democratic shift in Hungary, opportunities opened to take classes with foreign instructors, and more and more companies brought shows to Budapest. Szabó studied under several distinguished masters, such as Jo Alegado, Roberto Galván, Krisztina de Châtel, Nigel Charnock, K. J. Holmes, Mark Tompkins, Daniel Lepkoff, David Zambrano, and Vicky Shick, among others. aproposHer breakthrough came in 1994 when choreographer Rui Horta, renowned across Europe, gave her a role in his Hungarian project. As a performer, Szabó worked with numerous Hungarian and foreign creative artists, including ex-DV8 dancer Milli Bitterli and Javier de Frutos from London. Since 1995, Szabó has been a creative presence in contemporary dance and theater.
In 2002, she founded her own company, The Symptoms. In her work she relies heavily on the personality and creativity of her team and on ways of thinking together with them. Perhaps because of her history of exposure to diverse and incongruous influences, her performances defy generic categorization and are wildly different from one another. The Symptoms quickly built up a massive following in Hungary, owing in no small part to the tendency of their shows to dismantle the wall between artists and audience, mingle drama with humor, and accommodate multiple interpretations while remaining down to earth and very human.
Over the past 12 years, the company has created 21 shows and two short films and gathered 16 awards from forums in Hungary and abroad. Since 2002, they have toured 30 cities in 15 European countries. In recent years, independent art companies in Hungary have fallen on hard times, but The Symptoms remain what they always have been: a close-knit team of dedicated individuals seeking to express their views and questions about the world around us in ways that are innovative and thought provoking.
Programs in this season are made possible in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts; the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/Dept. of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts; The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the National Dance Project (NDP) of the New England Foundation for the Arts.
The Symptoms receives funding from Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources, the National Cultural Fund of Hungary, Trafo House of Contemporary Arts, Juranyi Production House, and National Dance Theatre.