The history of the theatre
The National Dance Theatre opened in the building
of the old Castle Theatre in the beautiful, historic surroundings
of the Buda Castle District on the 1st of December, 2001.
The Castle Theatre is the only 18th century theatre building in Hungary, which is still presently functioning as a theatre. The former monastery of the Carmelites was emptied by the order of the emperor Joseph II., and was rebuilt as a theatre and casino under the project by Farkas Kempelen.
"The bells were melt and cast cannons, the furniture were sold in auctions. The high altar was sold to the Royal Treasury and donated to the church of the Castle of Sárospatak. Part of the crypt under the sanctuary was used as a trap room. (The corpses were entombed in the cemetery nearby.) The cells functioned as changing rooms. The stage was built on the place of the high altar."
The inner space of the building became very impressive and elegant in the result of the reconstruction; the excellent acoustics, the heated auditorium, the elegant furniture, and gilded decoration distinguished it from the theatres of its age. 1200 visitors could enjoy the performances seated in the three storeys of the auditorium, 33 double seat boxes, 10 bigger boxes were available for the guests and one special for the royalty.
The first performance, the "Monk of the Carmel Hill", was presented in the Castle Theatre on the 17th of October, 1787.
The Castle Theatre gained a significant roll in the history of the Hungarian theatre. The first play performed in Hungarian language, "Igazházi" written by Kristóf Simai, was shown on its stage by Hungarian Acting Society led by László Kelemen on the 5th of October, 1790. Kelemen struggled for the matter of the Hungarian theatre with the German authorities as well as against the negligence towards the issue among the Hungarian citizens. Although the biggest stars of the era appeared on the stage of the Castle Theatre: Megyeri, Egressy, Lendvay, Madame Déri, Szigligeti, Róza Laborfalvy. The member of the company was also Madame Kántor, partly due to whom the famous historic play, the "Bánk Bán" by József Katona was performed in the Castle Theatre in 1835 for the first time.
Among the famous guests of the theatre we may find Ludwig von Beethoven who presented a successful concert on the 7th of May, 1800.
The balcony collapsed in 1942, afterwards the building served as an army storage. During the Second World War it was heavily damaged. The windows stared blind for a long time until the building was restored several times.
The theatre hall reopened on the 13th of February, 1978 under the name of Népszínház (Folk Theatre), later the studio stage of the National Theatre - Pesti Hungarian Theatre functioned in it.
The National Dance Theatre was established as the successor of the Dance Forum - following its twenty-years experience - by the Ministry of the National Cultural Heritage, in result of the lobby of the dance profession for the past decades. The art of dance has obtained a "home" in Budapest on the 1st of December, 2001. It is a theatre where the whole range of the Hungarian professional dance scene may be presented from the folklore to the classical ballet, the contemporary dance to even the break theatre, from small to big companies.
The repertoire of the theatre is completed by exhibitions of outstanding Hungarian painters are displayed in the National Dance Theatre Gallery (situated in the foyer), and photo exhibitions in the Passage Gallery
"We consider it important to share the experience of dance with the children and youth, as they would form the audience of art in the future. And our duty is accomplished well namely to teach them how to approach art." - says Jolán Török, the managing director of the National Dance Theatre.
All audiences are welcome to the National Dance Theatre situated in spectacular surroundings impressed by a historical, meanwhile intimate atmosphere of the Buda Castle District, a part of the World Heritage. Various program is provided for the lovers of dance in the nation's dance theatre and of the Hungarian art of dance.