"I believe we have an instinctive self beneath our conscious selves - or at least I do in mine - which becomes dominant in given circumstances. If I were to consciously analyse something I might end up doing it completely differently. If I worked with a rational mind, and used measured, logical steps to choreograph, then my pieces would probably be polite and kind, my dancers would present themselves on stage according to certain social conventions, and the audience would fall asleep or lose that deep involvement is usually present when they watch our pieces. So instead my approach is to trigger something and then become lose in it - as if in a maze for a while."
Pál Frenák was born in Budapest in 1957. His childhood was marked by the fact that his parents were severely hearing and speech impaired, making sign language his first means of expression. This rendered him especially receptive towards mimicry and gestures and all other ways of expressing content with the help of the human body.
In the quest for his vocation, he left Hungary for Paris in the middle of the 1980′s. He soon started working with many well-known artists from the world of classical ballet and studied Cunningham and Limon dance techniques. Thanks to his French wife’s network, architect Catherine Frenák, he gained entry into the world of contemporary artists whose influence helped him master the use of uncommon shapes and spaces. His works are deeply influenced by the movies of Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, the ideas of Francis Bacon and Gilles Deleuze and – as he was awarded to the Choreographer’s Prize of Villa Kujoyama, Kyoto - the Japanese tradition of butoh, which he combines with thought-provoking mixture of the Western-European and the Middle-Eastern-European world.
In 1999, he transformed the ten-year-old Compagnie Pal Frenak into a Hungarian-French international cooperation by working together with young Hungarian dancers. The ensemble, now performing both in Paris, in Budapest, and all over the world, and is widely known for its unique style of dance that integrates mimicry, sign language and body language, combined with carefully chosen elements of circus, theater, fashion and contemporary music.
Not only does Pál Frenák have a wide repertoire as a choreographer, he also has a busy schedule as an instructor. He regularly organizes professional workshops, gives initiation shows to high-school students and he frequently meets his public, always putting great emphasis on the dialog with other art forms and the continuous, adequate cooperation with the public. He works together with some of the most renowned people in contemporary European music such as György Kurtág, Patrick Schneider, Fred Bigot or Fabrice Planquette.
AWARDS & PRIZES
Choreographer's Award of Villa Kujoyama Artist's Retreat, Kyoto
Grand Prize of Veszprém Dance Festival
Grand Prize of Soros Studio Theatre Days
Gyula Harangozó Award for excellence in dance by the Hungarian
Ministry of Cultural Heritage
Phillip Morris Hungarian Ballet Prize
Rudolf Lábán Award for his Choreography entitled Fiúk/The Hidden Man
Order of Merit, Knights Cross from the Hungarian Cultural Minister
Zoltán Imre Foundation’s Choreography Prize
Rudolf Lábán Prize for his Choreography entitled Instinct
"For Budapest Award" for the excellence in dance and being
the cultural ambassador of the city of Budapest worldwide
Sandor Hevesi Prize
"Érdemes Művész" State Award for Excellence in Art Prize
Jeszenszky Endre-Prize for Pedagogy
Member of the 'Immortals' Society' (Halhatatlanok Társulata)
Péter Márta: FRENÁK (2009)
dr.Horváth Nóra: Frenák Pál Abécédaire-je (2022)
Cover photo © Robert Hegedus