Pantomime in Cold War Eastern Europe: Hungary

Pantomime: The History and Metamorphosis of a Theatrical Ideology: Table of Contents

PDF version of the entire book.

Figure 157: An intriguing image of a pantomime performance by the Olga Szentpál dance group in Budapest, ca. 1935. However, information about pantomime in Hungary during that time remains very obscure. Photo: Erzsébet Leichtner (1915-2005), from Földvári Books.


Pantomime in Hungary during the Cold War evolved in a different fashion than elsewhere in the East bloc perhaps in large part because of the failed attempt in 1956 to overthrow the Communist regime. Before 1956, the Party forbade any form of pantomimic performance or any effort to recover the exciting modern dance culture that, guided almost entirely by women, thrived in Budapest during the 1920s and 1930s and which included one of the greatest pantomimes of the twentieth century, Bartok’s The Miraculous Mandarin (1924) (cf. Fuchs 2000: 82-85). During that time, Valéria Dienes (1879-1978), who, in addition to acquiring a doctorate in philosophy, studied dance in Paris with Isadora and Raymond Duncan, developed a mystical-mathematical system and school of bodily movement, Orchestics, which she applied to the production of numerous large-scale religious “movement dramas” in Budapest, including one involving a thousand performers, The Fate of a Child (1935). These productions may have included pantomimic action derived from her “orchestic” and “evological” theory of kinetic communication (Dienes 2001: 5-7). Alice Madzsar [Jászi] (1877-1935), a student of Delsarte and Mensendieck, and Olga Szentpál (1895-1968), a disciple of Dalcroze, established dance schools in Budapest that produced unusual movement pieces that apparently included pantomime (Dienes 2001: 10-18). But with the Communist takeover of Hungary in the 1940s, these ideas about bodily movement and knowledge of them virtually disappeared.           

 A governing slogan of the Party proclaimed that, “socialist man speaks openly and does not display.” From the Party’s perspective, pantomimic avoidance of speech disclosed a profound distrust of words, and such distrust in itself undermined confidence in the language used by the state to justify its policies and in the language used by “the people” to build solidarity on behalf of the socialist program of salvation. Yet unlike in other East bloc countries, in Hungary numerous people became involved in efforts to create pantomimic art, with the result that pantomimic activity did not congeal around one or two dominant personalities, but became scattered across a variety of artists who never succeeded in consolidating an array of pantomimic enterprises into a sustained pantomime production platform. Orsolya Huszár Fürjesné wrote a thesis on pantomime in Cold War Hungary for Panonnia University, which the University published (without pagination) on the Internet in 2008. Her thesis remains the most comprehensive source for information about Hungarian pantomime for the period, and most of the facts regarding Hungarian pantomime here come from this work. She contends that the earliest efforts to create pantomime in Hungary took place in 1957, when the actress Itala Békés (b. 1927) and her brother-in-law, the opera director András Békés (1927-2015), invited Marcel Marceau to visit Hungary, and Marceau in turn invited them to Paris. Itala Békés had studied body movement under Olga Szentpál (1895-1968), who in the 1920s and 1930s was the director of a modern dance school that had produced experimental expressionist dance pantomimes [Figure 157]. Itala and András Békés hoped that the connection with Marceau would allow them to develop ambitious plans for a pantomime studio in Budapest, but nothing came of these hopes except invitations for more pantomime artists to visit Hungary. Another actor, Ferencz László (1923-1981), after studying briefly, in 1957, at Jean-Louis Barrault’s school in Paris, set up a pantomime studio in Budapest the following year to produce what he called “mimo-grotesques.” But the studio, which lasted only about a year, was primarily a place where actors could practice bodily expression, and it apparently produced only one “mimo-grotesque,” the twelve-scene Tales of Man, by the choreographer and ethnographer László-Bencsik Sándor Mesék (1925-1999). In 1958, a teacher, István Barlanghy (b. 1926), set up the Hungarian Pantomime Studio, which operated as a training facility in the University of Budapest. This studio lasted until 1965, but Barlanghy, who promoted the idea of pantomime as an independent mode of performance and published several theoretical articles about pantomime, including a small book of mime exercises, was unable to produce a single pantomime. Fialka’s Theater of the Balustrade from Prague visited, as did Tomaszewski’s Wroclaw Pantomime Company and Marcel Marceau (1967-1968), but these did not lead to pantomime production in Hungary, only to visits abroad for Hungarians to attend workshops, classes, and festivals. A dancer, Zoltán Kárpáthy (b. 1939), inspired by Decroux, decided to become a pantomime and studied under Jean Soubeyran and Jacques Lecoq. The government in 1963 granted him the first license to operate a pantomime theater (rather than studio), the Debiru Pantomim, which seated only twenty-four spectators but lasted from 1967-1973, although it remains unclear what the theater actually produced. Fürjesné explains how different theater journals and newspapers published essays on theoretical issues of pantomime, on whether audiences required education on pantomime before performing it, on whether pantomimes can be performed without performers educated in the art, on whether pantomime was a “people’s art,” on foreign pantomime performances and artists, on forums about pantomime, and on the popularity of pantomime studios. One newspaper reported that in 1973, 100 people in Hungary classified themselves as pantomime artists. In 1977, the government set up a pantomime commission at the request of the National Institute of Nursing, which believed that pantomime might provide therapeutic benefits. But apparently nothing came out of the commission, nor much out of all the media discourse on pantomime. The government would grant licenses to perform pantomime, but refused to provide any funding or any space for it. When the media reported on the “popularity” of pantomime, it referred to the proliferation of studios in which young people people performed exercises and experiments in pantomimic signification but not much in the way of pantomimes for public consumption. Fürjesné contends that the published discourse on pantomime in the 1960s was on a higher level than in subsequent decades, but the result was the formation of studios filled with students learning to be teachers of pantomime who would have their own studios in which students learned to be teachers of pantomime. The discourse failed to build an audience for pantomime.

It was evident, though, that pantomime performances were necessary to establish pantomime as an art rather than as a pedagogical activity. In 1967, Miklos Köllő (b. 1946), a biochemistry student, founded in Budapest the Domino Pantomime Studio after seeing a performance by Marcel Marceau, although he had no desire to emulate Marceau’s style of pantomime, and he studied briefly at Ladislav Fialka’s International School of Choreography in Prague. The Domino Studio operated out of the basement of his house, which meant that from the government’s perspective, the Studio was never eligible for support from public funds. Köllő’s productions involved students registered for his courses in pantomime, and by 1980 the Studio had nearly a hundred students enrolled in pantomime courses. He wanted to develop a dramatic style of pantomime through what he called a “dramaturgy of dreams.” In an article for the theater journal Színház (IV, 12, December 1971, 43-48), he explained that while people currently think of pantomime as clowns in whiteface, among ancient people, including the Romans, pantomime had two functions: 1) as a trance-like, shamanistic religious ritual, and 2) as a profane, erotic embodiment of an exclusive “symbolic sign system” that made the body move abstractly. The distinction between the two functions was not always clear, nor did the ancient cultures make a clear distinction between dance and miming. In addition to the Romans, Köllő referred to the dance pantomimes of African and East Asian cultures as examples of these neglected functions of pantomime, but he also discussed Decroux in relation to a “geometry of the body” that he considered unique to pantomime, “a new kind of motion rhythm,” the “condensed drama” of “dynamic immobility.” He apparently meant that pantomime created a compressed drama through abstract or symbolic tensions between parts of the body, which music intensified without determining. He asserted that pantomimic action had an “internal, psychic” origin derived from the performer’s unique relation to the person represented, unlike dance, which relied on “prefabricated forms” to design bodily movements. Köllő’s pantomime productions nevertheless used a good deal of abstract movement, geometrical, gymnastic contortions of the body, which sometimes resembled modern dance, but was closer to dynamic sculpture, because he had little interest in showing how the body consumes space. He suffused his productions with theatrical effects: masks, strange costumes, curtains, footlights. Literary works inspired many of his productions: Victor Hugo, Notre Dame Paris (1969), Albert Camus, The Artist’s Life (1969), Jean Genet, The Blacks (1970), Gyula Juhász, The Boy Changed into a Rabbit (1973), Thomas Mann, Transposed Heads (1974), Béla Balázs, Garments of Dreams (1974), Gogol Panoptic (1977), Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1978), Miguel Asturias, “Oh … the Half-Breed Woman” (1980), Michel de Ghelderode, Night of Fools (1982), Edgar Allan Poe’s Supper (1983), Salome (1983). Köllő’s productions sometimes brought him trouble from the government, which banned some of his productions, even though he often did not advertise them. Undercover agents of the secret police infiltrated his audiences (Köllő 2016: 93-94). His audience was never large, but it was large enough to sustain the productions, filled as it was with well-educated people looking for adventurous artistic experiences, including foreign visitors and spectators employed by foreign embassies. These foreign spectators facilitated opportunities for him in other countries. His production of Notre Dame Paris at the International Theater Festival in Amsterdam launched his international reputation and gained him invitations to show his productions at other festivals over the years. He taught pantomime at the International Theatre Institute in London between 1976 and 1979, and from 1986 to 1988 he directed the International Theater Center in Athens. The Hungarian government suspected him of being a foreign agent while the Hungarian mainstream cultural media regarded him as estranged from any genuinely Hungarian artistic identity. Yet in 1983, he was able to set up a larger venue for his productions at the Centi Stage, and in 1984, he assumed the directorship of the Budavari Labyrinth, a vast underground network of caverns in the Buda Castle, previously long dormant, which enabled “panopticum” exhibits to incorporate unusual visual and acoustic effects. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he continually found work choreographing films, television shows, and theatrical productions. Yet he never found the Hungarian cultural environment congenial to his artistic ambitions—that is, he always looked beyond the borders of Hungary for the development and expansion of his artistic identity. The Domino Pantomime Theater staged its last performance in 1989, with Köllő’s production of Macbeth of East Central Europe, after which he resigned all his theater positions. He claimed that, even before the collapse of the Communist regime in 1990, commercial ambitions had corrupted the theater culture and municipal government. Soon, however, he formed a new production company, the Central European Dance Theater, which indicated his move away from pantomime and toward the German concept of “Tanztheater.” His productions subsequently derived more from history and biography than from literature: an adapatation of Mikhail Bulgakov’s Satan’s Ball (1994), The Joyful Blessing of Franz Liszt (1995), Viper’s Nest (1995), inspired by the life of the Italian gay, Marxist film director Pier Paolo Pasolini (1922-1975), Peasant Decameron (1996), Rasputin is Satan (1998). After 1996, the Central European Dance Theater, as a formal organization, ceased to exist, because Köllő could no longer afford the rent for the theater, which rose in part, he says, because officials of the National Theater believed that a “national theater” should not be hosting a company dedicated to sponsoring “central European” projects (Köllő 2016: 101-102). In 2003, he formed yet another company, Tarka Színpad, comprised of amateur performers, chiefly senior citizens and designed for senior audiences. The productions of the Tarka Stage (2003-2012) were mostly musical comedies built around old comic tales (Hans Sachs) or contemporary fables, although its last production (2012) was of the lesbian drama The Maids (1947), by Jean Genet (1910-1986). Köllő seems like an extraordinary figure in the East bloc theatrical scene, but a stronger evaluation of his significance in pantomime history depends on access to documentation of his productions rather than on further anecdotes about the peculiar circumstances under which he managed to produce so many ambitious dramatic pantomimes. 

The Domino Pantomime Company’s success in foreign countries motivated the government to encourage the development of an authentically “Hungarian” type of pantomime. The state had already approved the establishment of an experimental theater at the Budapest University of Technology, believing that the University was more likely to emphasize appropriate socialist messaging in the theater’s performances than in the private productions of Domino. In 1974, the government allowed the formation of a pantomime theater company within the University Stage and the University named Pál Regős (1926-2009) as the artistic director. Regős began his career as an ice dancer and had performed for several years (1948-1957) with the Hungarian ice dance company, Jégrevü, which traveled throughout the East bloc. As a child, he had seen circus clowns, and since then he had always wanted to become a clown, although it was “impossible to learn” how. But in 1957, he created a Charlie Chaplin figure for an ice dance show. From then on, his attention focused on acting and pantomime. The same year he saw at the Radnóti Theater several prominent actors perform “ancient pantomimes,” which created “a most impressive ethereal show” hosted by István Barlanghy. Regős became friends with Ferencz László, and then with Henryk Tomaszewski in Wroclaw, where he also met Marcel Marceau. Yet he was largely self-taught in pantomime, guided intensely by Jean Soubeyran’s 1963 textbook on pantomime performance, Die wortlose Sprache. He formed in 1962 his own pantomime company, Commedia XX, which rehearsed for free in the exercise room of the Ice Theater. But he never became a clown. His first pantomime production took place in 1964 and emulated the type of pantomime performance created by Tomaszewski, although Regős included musical interludes because the actors had to change the scenery for each scene. The primary scenario featured a “sleek” Black Pierrot in a black body suit with “huge white buttons.” Pierrot pursued a girl dressed entirely in white, but could not win her “because he was black.” A secondary scenario, “The Great Book,” inspired by a poem of Dezső Kosztolányi(1885-1936), was more abstract-allegorical and featured a conflict between the Heart, in a red body suit, and the Brain, in a blue body suit. Subsequent productions, entirely amateur, were sporadic and took place in “various cultural houses,” chiefly workers’ or community clubs. Regős worked as a window washer to pay for costumes, props, and space rentals. Then the Budapest University of Technology invited him to manage a pantomime unit of the University Stage, which compelled him “to think differently within the genre. The traditional language of pantomime no longer worked.” His first production for the University Stage was a 1975 pantomimic adaptation of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist, apocalyptic drama Endgame (1957), which, amazingly, Beckett authorized. But the most successful productions, from 1976, were of Bartok’s ballet The Wooden Prince (1917) and pantomime The Miraculous Mandarin (1924), which, however, Regős set in an Asian milieu rather than the European city Bartok originally imagined. Although the University Stage workshops were popular and enrolled numerous students, the pantomime productions of the Stage were on a small scale, involving only a handful of performers, because Regős had to cover much of the touring cost with his own money, whereas Köllő sometimes had as many as thirty students performing in his shows, which he only produced once a year. After traveling to various European cities with the Bartok program, Regős moved in what he regarded as a new direction with his 1982 production of a three-person pantomime based on the story The Metamorphosis (1915), by the German-Jewish writer Franz Kafka (1883-1924), which depicts the life of a man transformed into an enormous insect. Regős himself played the role of Gregor Samsa, but the piece failed to attract an audience, and though he was not sure why, Regős felt he could not let go of Kafka as a source for pantomime. He was born Jewish, but grew up Calvinist, because his parents had converted. The government nevertheless considered him Jewish. Kafka, he said, led him to a more “personal” way of moving the body. Meanwhile, he accepted an offer to teach “movement design” in Vienna, and there he remained until 1988. Pantomime almost completely disappeared from the University Stage, as it became a studio for the study of “motion theater” or Creative Motion Design. Regős returned to Kafka in 1985, with a solo piece, Requiem for Josef K, inspired by attending a performance in Vienna of the Requiem (1982) by German composer Aribert Reimann (b. 1936). But he was not happy with this performance, either, and later acknowledged that, “I wanted to show Kafka’s world too much. I was playing very cramped, and that’s not good.” That is, he was too diligent in translating the claustrophobic world of Kafka’s into highly constrained bodily movements. A new path opened up in 1990 when in Vienna he met the Japanese modern dancer Emi Hatano (b. 1939), and they transformed the Kafka piece into an abstract, expansive duo, perhaps closer to the Heart-Brain duo of his first production than to the human-insect duality of Kafka. Then (1994) he collaborated with Gabriella Salz (b. 1971), a German literature student and movement therapist, on another “movement duo,” inspired by the German book I Don’t Want to be Inside Me Anymore (1993) by Birger Sellin (b. 1973), purportedly the first book authored by a functionally non-verbal autistic person, although the Sellin text had resulted from the completely discredited method of “facilitated communication.” Regős developed another duo project, Heartwitch (1998), with the modern dancer Rita Bata (b. 1973), whose dance aesthetic strongly incorporated Asian influences, especially the expressionistic solemnities of Japanese Butoh. He kept revising and reviving (2001, 2004) his Kafka piece. While all these projects seem fascinating and strange, especially the duos involving the elderly Regős and a young woman, information about the productions remains largely inaccessible, and what is known mostly serves to support Regős’s assertion that, “You should never stop developing, you should not always do the same thing. The latter work must in some respects exceed the previous one” (Rókás 2009). With his female collaborators, it appears that he moved away from pantomime toward something that was neither mime nor dance but what he called “motion theater” or “motion design,” which apparently had some affinity with movement therapy and thus was not preoccupied with audiences. Regős exemplifies how pantomime awakens and accelerates a hunger for change, both personal and social. For Regős, pantomime in the 1960s represented a new path to a new sense of identity arising from the body rather than from words or prescribed ways of moving in a world in which, as Köllő observed, one could “no longer trust words,” because “words had lost their true content” (Köllő 2016: 91). Pantomime meant moving the body outside of one’s self, into another identity, another story. But Regős always had difficulty finding a story that moved the body in a new way. Unlike Köllő, he did not trust literary sources any more than he trusted the words of the government or the language of communal discourse. Not even Kafka could provide the “metamorphosis” he expected of pantomime. By the end of the 1980s, he realized his body had to move in a more “personal” way, outside of history, away from stories told by others, away from an identity inscribed and prescribed by history or approved by audiences. He thus turned to “movement theater” or “motion design,” a kind of therapeutic activity perhaps, but a logical result of perceiving that you cannot move in a new way if your body and identity have been lost in a history that has already made you someone other than you might have made yourself. 

Fürjesné seems to regard János Karsai (b. 1945) as the most popular of the Hungarian Cold War pantomime figures; nearly half of her thesis describes his career. He began as an actor with the alternative performance studio of the Pince Theater in Budapest, but turned his attention to pantomime in 1968, when he became a student at Zoltán Kárpáthy’s school, where the curriculum derived from the Germany-based Jean Soubeyran, a student of Decroux and Barrault. But because he was unable to see nearly any pantomime performances in the theaters, Karsai’s greatest inspiration came from silent films, particularly the comic styles of Buster Keaton (1895-1966) and Stan Laurel (1890-1965). Kárpáthy included Karsai’s sketch in an hour long pantomime show for factory workers, which inspired Karsai to develop his own, hour-long, solo pantomime performance, Confession in White (1970), which enabled him to receive a license to perform pantomime. For a while he worked with the Thalia Theater, training actors in physical expression and performing Bartok’s The Wooden Prince and The Miraculous Mandarin. Fürjesné notes that he spent much time discussing, promoting, and explaining pantomime in an effort to stimulate interest in the phenomenon in different audiences. He formed his own pantomime company, Mimickry Mim, in 1974, which included his wife Gizella (b. 1955), Vladimir Laczkó, a circus acrobat, and Pál Ferenc, apparently a clown who has otherwise remained completely obscure. The company gave its first performance at the University of Debrecen Medical School in 1975, a pantomime representing the cycle of life. But Karsai spent much of his time as a member of cultural delegations within the East bloc and attending workshops. In 1978, Mimicky Mim became the Karsai Pantomime Company, with many shows occurring in nightclubs. The following year, he started a small TV series of pantomime sketches, and throughout the 1980s he created more TV pantomimes, produced children’s shows, performed at construction camps, community centers, senior care facilities, the Planetarium in Budapest. Karsai was a tireless popularizer of pantomime, and he aggressively opposed the “aristocratic,” avant-garde pantomime developed, for example, by the Domino Pantomime Company or Tomaszewski in Poland. He regarded Charlie Chaplin as the summit of pantomimic art, which, for Karsai, meant that pantomimic gestures and actions should always be understandable to any audience, they should not drift into choreographed abstraction and metaphysical symbolism, and they should represent “everyday people dealing with everyday problems.” But this inclination to “cleanse” and simplify bodily signification led to an entirely comic performance aesthetic in which all action issued from or around a clownlike, Chaplinesque persona. His largely solo program, Life Is Complicated?! (1973), was an enormous success, yet it remains difficult to ascertain the nature of the performance, other than that he enacted the commonplace misadventures of his Everyman clown persona in ways that allowed him to perform on stages everywhere without much scenery, lighting effects, complex musical accompaniment or more than two or three supporting characters. Fürjesné lists the pieces in the program without any description of how Karsai performed them: “Opening Song; Pantomime; Street; Humanism; Lifetime Achievement; Trial; Marijuana; History; Ballade; They Are Two; How are you doing?; Door; Love Story; Hyenas; Wild West Pub; The Last Minute. In the second half there were nine songs, the first performed by Gizella Karsai, followed by the pantomime: Mr. Primitive’s Adventures; Education; Diploma; Advertising for Marriage; Bullfighter; Love; Rake; Problems.” His shows were not without occasional controversy. While touring in Dresden in 1981, government officials warned him not to show a scene in which his character breaks through a wall, but he performed the scene anyway, with the audience responding in amazed silence. In another show, he presented his character on a street urinating under a picture of Lenin. By the late 1980s, though, he concentrated on pantomime and pantomime instruction for television. In 1988, he appeared in six episodes of animated film writer Ágnes Bálint’s (1922-2008) TV series Szimat Szörény, a kind of puppet show in which human actors wearing animal masks performed in pantomime while the dialogue and songs were done in voiceover and told how the dog police inspector, Szimat Szörény, solved crimes in a ridiculously modern world of animal-humans (cf., Filmek Kedvenc 2015). After the collapse of the regime, however, Karsai devoted himself almost entirely to teaching. 

Karsai is probably more important as an educator and promoter of pantomime than as a performer. Fürjesné calls him the “shaman of pantomime.” He made pantomime seem like an accessible, happy way to make one’s body say things that people from different backgrounds would find enjoyable or amusing. The body becomes “understandable,” he contended, only though rigourous self-discipline, both ethical and physical. He taught hundreds of students, from children to university students to quite mature adults, for, like many mime instructors in the West, he regarded pantomime as a way of living more than a profession on the stage. As director of the Pantheon Studio of the KISZ Central Artists Ensemble (1978-1988), he was able to organize numerous international pantomime conferences and foreign visits, and he was prominent in the formation (1982) of a pantomime section in the Hungarian Academy of Theater Arts. When in 1977 the Hungarian Institute for Folk Education established a committee to supervise amateur organizations, he (along with Miklós Köllő, Zoltán Kárpáthy, and István Barlanghy) determined the conditions under which performers or ensembles could be licensed as pantomimes. Through his skill at publicity, he assured that Hungarian pantomime culture received enthusiastic appreciation from foreign countries and invitations to perform abroad. The end of the Communist regime diminished his influence, although his wife Gizella achieved a growing popularity as a singer of folk-rock tunes while continuing to teach pantomime, primarily to children. Two of the Karsais’ children, Veronika (b. 1975) and András (b. 1986), have become major figures in the pantomime culture of contemporary Hungary; the brother and sister formed their own company, New Generation Pantomime, in 2000, and then in 2009 a sibling company, Mimage Pantomime Theater. Because of András’s busy schedule performing as a dancer and actor in musicals and operettas, Veronika assumes much of the creative responsibility for work produced by the pantomime companies. However, while Veronika retains aspects of János’s principle that pantomimic gestures should be “understandable” to any audience, she has also explored an increasingly abstract, choreographed idea of speechless performance, which she describes as either pantomime or “movement theater.” But with this shift toward abstraction, she showed an inclination, not strongly developed in her father, toward dramatic rather than comic effects. She has tried to combine comic “understandability” with dramatic abstraction in such works as richard2nixon (2009) and her remarkably inventive 2012 pantomimic adaptation of the early absurdist play The Bald Soprano (1950) by Eugène Ionescu (1909-1994), which used a variety of imaginative musical accompaniments to the choreographed action. Perhaps her most effective synthesis of “understandable” pantomimic gesture and movement theater is her solo piece It Is Also Dance (2008), done in conjunction with an exhibition of ancient Hungarian artifacts in Cyprus. In this piece, she mimes a series of “women figures in heaven and earth” while wearing a black body stocking before nothing more than a green curtain. Karsai uses no props or mask while performing a woman cradling a baby, washing dishes, ironing and folding laundry, staring at herself in a mirror and applying makeup [Figure 158]. The piece, entirely dramatic, becomes more abstract as she embodies mythic women—Eos, creator of winds and stars, a woman in a mask, Daphne, who turned into a laurel tree rather than submit to Apollo, an angel playing a lyre. Her beautiful, though not always “understandable,” movements in constructing the different “earthly” and mythic female figures here achieves a Roman idea of pantomimic metamorphosis that was practically unthinkable during the Cold War in either the East or the West (Karsai 2009-2017). It is astonishing how vibrant the Roman idea, as she incarnates it, remains across so many centuries, and yet she has achieved it through the otherwise unlikely synthesis of her father’s aesthetic of “understandable” gesture and the “aristocratic” aesthetic of bodily abstraction. 

Figure 158: Veronika Karsai performing her pantomime Tanc az is (It Is Also Dance) (2008). Photos: from video excerpts of the performance on the Karsai Veronika YouTube channel.

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