Friday, July 20, 2018

Acting and dance: How this Hungarian danseur uses these dual strengths

/ 05:05 AM September 27, 2017

Martin Buczko,with Kim Abrogena and Veronica Atienza playing alternates in the title role

Hungarian danseur Martin Buczko (pronounced “butchsko”) is a vegan, the tribe of whom is increasing in Metro Manila.

Over a lunch of salad, pasta, chocolate coconut ice cream and cappuccino with cashew milk in an organic restaurant, he explains how giving up dairy has helped him remedy his swollen eyes, breathing difficulty, month-long sneezing and other allergic symptoms common during hay fever season.

Not wanting to depend on antihistamines, he turned to veganism three years ago.


“My head is clearer and I’m more emotionally balanced,” he says. His wife, Alexandra Kinter, an investigative journalist, and their six-year-old son, Azea, have also adopted the vegan lifestyle in Budapest.

Buczko is the guest artist in Philippine Ballet Theater’s (PBT) “The Merry Widow,” a comic ballet based on the operetta by Franz Lehar. Choreographed by PBT artistic director Ronilo Jayanario, it runs Sept. 30-Oct. 1 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines.

Stepping into the role

The story is set in Pontevedro, a fictional, cash-strapped Balkan country. To ensure its future, the ambassador Baron Zeta devises a scheme to keep the money in Pontevedro. He sets up Hanna, the richest widow, with Count Danilo Danilovitsch, a charming but bad boy nobleman.

Bearing a resemblance to actor Johnny Depp, the 6-foot-tall Buczko has the Slavic features—dark hair, deep-set eyes, prominent cheekbones—that make him ideal for the role of Count Danilo.

“The Count comes from the Balkans, the fiery part of Eastern Europe,” explains Buczko. “His emotions are shifting. He’s suffering inside one moment, but he also wants to let go. That’s the motivation of his character and the impetus of the story.”


Unlike younger dancers who focus only on technique, Buczko looks at performance from a wider perspective.


He was born in Moscow and raised in Budapest. His grandfather, an opera lover and balletomane, exposed to him to the arts and brought him to the Hungarian National Dance Academy.

His education provided a well-rounded program that included academics, dance, acting, piano and stage makeup. While studying, he also performed at the Hungarian National Opera House.

Buczko moved to Chile where he performed with Ballet de Santiago and learned to speak Spanish. He found more opportunities in dance companies in Germany—in his stint with the Staatsballett Berlin, he danced with prominent choreographers.

Buczko counts Maurice Bejart’s “Ring um den Ring,” a monumental ballet based on Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycles, as one of his most rewarding experiences. He savored playing the dual roles of antihero Alberiche and his brother Hagen in the Nordic saga about a magic ring.

The life he breathes into his role is born out of his exposure to acting and music. Buczko recalls that one summer, he was introduced to The Method, an acting style imparted by Russian coach Konstantin Stanislavski, who espoused immersion in character and emotion for an authentic performance. Buczko and his friends practiced it in a cafeteria and beer garden.

“I realized that the theatrical acting style becomes more natural,” he says.


Given his background in classical and contemporary dance, it was natural for Buczko to venture into choreography.

Doing the works of big names such as William Forsythe, Nacho Duato and Angelin Preglocaj exposed him to various dance styles and the choreographic process. He debuted in a choreographer’s showcase, “Shut Up and Dance!,” which featured electronic music and ballet. As choreographer, he plumbs the depths of his soul to find the impetus for his dances.

His works, inspired by the dynamics of relationships, have been staged at the Berlin Opera and the popular Berghain Electronic Music Club.

In the past decade, Buczko has been touring the world, performing, teaching and choreographing. Aside from dancing with PBT, he is eager to share the wisdom he learned from coaches who improved his technique.

“I want to show the dancers’ possibilities, such as improving their body posture,” he says. Although his partners Irene Kim Abrogena and Veronica Atienza are nearly half his age—quite young to play widows—he describes them as receptive and open to improvising with him.

At 39, Buczko says his dancing is more pliant. He incorporates the movement with breath style and the flow of yoga into his technique.

“I wanted to move away from the classical and do choreography and physical theater,” he says. When he took classes again, his classmates saw the difference in his movement quality. “There was more joy,” he says. —CONTRIBUTED

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