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In the Service of Dance
The State Ballet Institute was founded in 1950 by the cultural government. Initially, in accordance with its name, it only trained classical ballet dancers, which was occasionally complemented with groups to (further) train pedagogues of folkdance or modern ballroom dances. 20 years had passed until (in 1970) folk dance training became acknowledged as a new specialization. It took nearly the same time to the first college level programs for training choreographers and theoreticians were opened and the training of dance pedagogues became organized and systematic (1998). Reacting to the challenges of the 21st century, the teaching of modern dance is becoming increasingly important (since 2006 it has been an individual specialization within dance artist training). By 2018 theatre dance has become a specialization besides the dancer and coach training program within the artist training as well. Further options of programmes within the dancer and coach training are modern ballroom dances and fashion dance.
The 9-year-long period of the classical ballet artist training program has provided a higher educational qualification since 1975, and in 1983 it was recognized as a college level program. Since then, every student who has been studying here can leave the school as a graduate artist, teacher or creator. Although the seat has always been Budapest from the beginning and will also remain there, responding to the demands on national level, there have been dance pedagogue as well as dancer and coach training programs since 1998 – with a few years of interruption – in some countryside towns, too. In 2006, the former college level programs were transformed and the present framework of two cycles was established: the first cycle awarding a bachelor’s (BA) degree in the following specializations: dance artist, dancer and coach as well as choreographer training. The second cycle awards a master’s (MA) degree in the following programmes: classical ballet artist, folk dance artist and dance teacher training. Since February 1st 2017 this most prestigious institution of Hungarian dance artist training has been functioning as a university and its most important task and aim now is to open the third cycle of training: the doctorate course.
Due to the particular age requirements of a dance artist’s career, a school offering public education as well as a dormitory support the studies of the pupils, coming at the age of 10, from all over the country to join the training in the professional classical ballet specialization. In the modern dance and folk dance specialization, they are admitted at the age of 14. In the dance artist training program the candidates also start their university education 2 years prior to taking their secondary school-leaving exams which, in fact is a unique way in Hungary for the students to become qualified artists with a university diploma already one year after finishing secondary school. (Because of the short span in their career as dance artists, the students later often return to the school in order to obtain another qualification or go to other universities to chose another career.)
The primary goal has always been training and education, however, the students have been present on stage from the beginning as well: in the performances of the Hungarian State Opera House, and particularly in the last decades both with the school’s own productions or as participants of big shows on numerous national and international venues. Besides guest performances, the participation in international competitions is also essential for the students and their masters, and there has been a long tradition of a home competition inside the school walls, too.
In addition to education and performing arts, creation is the third major field of university work: actually, all dance teachers are creative artists as well, since week after week they have to create new exercises and pieces for their students. Almost every year a new production is staged following the invitation of a guest-choreographer. And also training choreographers and the participation in competitions for choreographers have an important role, where students can develop their creativity.
As a responsible higher educational institution, the university has many other tasks to fulfill in professional dance life besides training students: The Vályi Rózsi Library is a dance oriented library accessible for everyone. The ifj. Nagy Zoltán Theater Hall hosts the performances of several ensembles and schools in addition to our programs (with thousands of visitors annually). The Research Centre of the Science of Dance and the biennial conferences (started in 2007) provide inspiration, a forum as well as a platform for publishing in the conference proceedings for those involved in the science of dance. In addition to the essential text books – often with a DVD supplement – our publication series (Tánctudományi Közlemények, Táncművészet és Tudomány) help the orientation both in the national and the international dance field.
We accept an increasing number of foreign students both from neighboring and remote countries. A lot of them can even cope with the difficulties of the Hungarian language in order to be able to join our classical ballet grades. Since 2006 the number of students enrolled in one of the English language programmes has also been increasing. Our teachers are ready to share their knowledge with the students not only in Hungary but also abroad. They teach or hold trainings, courses and workshops worldwide within the framework of international cooperation between universities. The preparatory as well as the summer and international courses provide an insight into the various training programs of the Hungarian Dance University for those who either take dance as a hobby or are just planning where to study.
Since 2001 the central campus of the Hungarian Dance University in Columbus utca (Zugló) has been constantly evolving: since 2002 it has been the site of the dance artist training, and it is the location of the Nádasi Ferenc Secondary School and Dormitory, the library, the theatre hall, the audiovisual studio, the costume store and the central administration. In 2018 the Institute for Training Choreographers and Dance Pedagogues has been moved to its final location in a new, high quality block on the other side of the campus (Amerikai út).
The operation of the Hungarian Dance University is being financed through state budget. However, a wide range of developments and manifold activities could not be realized without the grants gained through various programs. They are of crucial importance, as they allow for long-term investments to be introduced both with the support of the Hungarian government and the co-funding by the European Union. We must not forget to mention the grants allocated to dance ensembles registered by the National Cultural Fund, the National Talent Program or the Ministry of Human Resources, and some other subsidies which provide the means for some activities beyond education, e.g. the realization of performances, the participation of our students at international competitions, the improvement of the costume store as well as the invitation of choreographers.
Thanks to the programs of the Tempus Public Foundation (e.g. Erasmus+, Stipendium Hungaricum) our teachers and students can have a number of excellent international opportunities, and we can also accept a lot of applicants from our partners abroad. We are also grateful to the university-bound foundations and their curators and donators for supporting our daily activities.