Utility costs force world famous Győr ballet to rehearse at Audi factory

January 11. 2023. – 01:15 PM


Utility costs force world famous Győr ballet to rehearse at Audi factory
The event venue of the engine factory is now a rehearsal hall – Photo: Audi Hungaria


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The Győr National Theatre, home to the Győr Ballet, closed for two months beginning in January. This means that the studio of the world-famous dance company, adjacent to the building of the theater is no longer heated, and dancers cannot rehearse in the cold. A solution was needed, and what they found was unprecedented: the artists were given a four-week residency at the Audi factory in Győr.

It was announced in the last weeks of autumn that several cultural institutions in Győr will have to close due to the increased costs of utilities, with the theater closing from January. Although those affected prefer not to use the word "closed", arguing that ticket sales on the ground floor of the building will stay open, the fact remains that the running plays and the troupes have moved out of the building.

The actors are currently performing on the puppet theater's stage; and the ballet played most of the performances scheduled for its season at a frantic pace in November and December. László Velekei, the current director of the Győr Ballet, told Telex that only five performances remain, which will be carried over to the spring, with forty-eight performances – of eight different productions – already done. Their last performance in Győr was on 15 December.

It was also confirmed earlier that the Győr Ballet will not shut down completely for these two months, but will play in external venues, i.e. in other theaters. Obviously, these are places that are able to operate even with the increased utility costs. The Veszprém Theatre and Müpa Budapest have already signed contracts with them.

But this does not solve the question of rehearsals, which is essential for dance artists. If no solution had been found, the theater's stage would have been the only remaining option, but the announcement made by the theater's management a few weeks ago (when it was still open) says a lot about the conditions there: “given that it is really cold in the auditorium of the main stage, until January, the audience may ignore protocol and watch the shows in coats.”

Audi has been the main sponsor of the Győr Ballet for 25 years now. This explains why the troupe turned to them for help. This time it was not about sponsorship, they needed a temporary home.

And they received it: they can spend two weeks at the engine factory and the car factory respectively, each of which has a suitable – and warm enough – venue for them. The special flooring and the rehearsal stands were provided by the ballet company, and the factory provided the space itself.

That's why János Kiss, the founder of the Győr Ballet and its director for several decades now says he is going “to the factory for rehearsal”.

Rehearsals are public, the factory workers may stop by and watch – Photo: Audio Hungaria
Rehearsals are public, the factory workers may stop by and watch – Photo: Audio Hungaria

Telex learned from the company's communications department that it is 18 degrees in the production departments and 20 degrees in the offices. This is in line with the protocol used at all locations of the VW Group. The factory in Győr is in a fortunate position, although it has itself to thank for this: years ago they started to build a system of wells and transport systems for extracting geothermal heat, so that its production halls, which now number more than 80, can be heated with thermal heat.

The ballet company also rehearses in a 20-degree room, and rehearsals are open to the public so factory workers may take a look. In exchange for the free "rent", the dancers provide a small production for the staff on Fridays.

This means that any of the 12,000 or so Audi workers can, if their shift schedule allows and they are on the factory premises, see a ballet performance.

The ballet company will be at the factory for the next two weeks, and the dancers were given a pass and can come and go just like the workers. From here, they will go to Veszprém and Budapest to perform, and when they return, they will be practicing at the car factory. In a similar arrangement, they will then be hosted by the Herendi Porcelain Manufacture, and will thus be able to make it through the two-month closure period.

"The Győr Ballet has never been in a similar situation before," László Velekei said. "And we have never seen an example of an art ensemble finding a home in an industrial environment, neither in Hungary, nor in Europe, and perhaps nowhere in the world either," Kinga Németh, Director of Human Resources at Audi Hungaria added.

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