Cupcakes & Conversation with Jozef Varga, Principal, Dutch National Ballet

a tray of white and brown cupcakes

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Jozef Varga, Principal, Dutch National Ballet

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?

Well, actually my alarm clock! My motivation really depends on what I’m going to do that day.

Why ballet?

Why not! I love to dance, I started when I was 8 years old and when I was 9 I went to a professional school. I never thought of anything else than ballet for my future.

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?

I can’t put down a name for that. The most important thing is that you can achieve something special with someone on stage and I can’t say that by looking at someone, you have to feel that while dancing with someone.

If you could dance anywhere in the world, where would you dance?

I would say St. Petersburg and New York City because I have never danced there before and I would like to go there some day to dance.

What is your daily routine at the moment?

Usually I get up at 8.30/9.00 am, I have a small breakfast in which coffee is absolutely necessary! When I have some time left I check my e-mail and on a normal day class starts at 10 am. When we have performed the day before, class starts at 11 am. After class I usually have a quick lunch in the theatre and then it’s back to rehearsals. Sometimes I go to the gym in the theatre but over the last couple of weeks I haven’t been able to because we are really busy preparing for the Cherkaoui | Dawson program. When rehearsals are over I eat some dinner at home; I’m not a really good cook so most of the time I cook something simple. In the evening, I sometimes have a drink with friends or watch a movie, but most of the times I work on the website I co-founded called

dancer kneels in front of grave in Giselle

Jozef Varga in Giselle Photograph : Angela Sterling

What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?

For breakfast it’s mostly coffee and something sweet. At lunchtime I eat anything the theatre has to offer; most of the time it’s soup, salad or a nice sandwich. For dinner I eat something simple like pasta or a steak. But when we have a performance in the evening I eat a small dinner and then some more after the show.

How do you prepare in the hours before a show?

I have a very strict routine. I try to be in the theatre about an hour and a half before the show. I start with coffee and my make-up, which takes about 15 to 20 minutes. After that I warm up for a half hour. After that I put on my costume and go to the stage. I like to practice a bit, try some things and to get into the mood of performing. Feel the stage.

What are you looking forward to in the coming season?

Forsythe, definitely.

If you can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?

I’m not into famous people but I think I would have a great night if I invited athletes from different sports. I think we would have great conversations because we do have some things in common. Sport is a significant factor in all our lives.

What would surprise people about you?

I speak a lot of different languages. English, French, Slovenian, Hungarian and a little bit of Italian, German and Russian. It comes in handy because a lot of dancers from the Dutch National Ballet come from all over the world.

Who inspired you to dance?

I would have to say my first dance teacher. She took a great interest in me and if it weren’t for her I would never have considered a career in ballet. She encouraged me to audition for a professional school at the age of 9.  Look where it’s taken me.

Jozef Varga & Anna Tsygankova in Les Sylphides Photograph : Angela Sterling

How would someone else describe you?

Haha, shouldn’t you ask someone else that question?

What is your best piece of advice for someone who wants to become a dancer?

Be stubborn, be smart, work hard and think twice.

Which role has tested you the most and how?

I don’t know if it has tested me the most but my first big role as Albrecht in Giselle was a huge test for me.

What’s the funniest thing that has ever happened to you on stage?

When I was dancing in Zurich, I danced in a contemporary piece in which another dancer lifted me. During the performance he accidentally dropped me on the middle of the stage. The funny thing about it was that nobody noticed, not the audience or even the ballet masters, we made it look like it was part of the choreography.

If you designed your own costume, what would you create?

I can’t say, it depends on the choreography and the dancers. Therefore I don’t have a favourite costume. The essence of a good costume is the cut and fit of it. If you feel really comfortable in the costume your performance is better. So if I designed my own costume I would make sure that the cut is really precise.

A phrase I use far too often is..

It’s not a phrase but a word I use very often: Excellent!

Who would play you in the film of your life?

Keanu Reeves; people say we look alike.

What is your favourite quote?

Never give up!

What’s on your iPod?

I listen to nearly everything. When you scroll through my playlist you will find, for instance, metal but also singer/songwriter music. I listen to classical music as well. The last concert I went to (which was a while ago) was Jamiroquai.

Who would you most like to dance for, and why?

I would like to dance for Forsythe and Kylian. They are really good to work with, a very inspiring environment and I like their choreography.

dancer jumps in the air on stage

Jozef Varga in Sylvia Photograph : Angela Sterling

What makes you a good dance partner?

I do listen (sometimes).

Do you have a secret skill that no one knows about?

Well, I used to be very good at mathematics. But nowadays I don’t really use nor need that skill.

Describe yourself in just three words

Stubborn, social and I don’t know the word for it in English but I have a lot of endurance (stamina?).

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special for you?

I enjoy dancing for my friends and family the most. They are really important to me. It’s a wonderful feeling being on stage while the most important people in your life are enjoying it.

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be this time next year?

When I think of where I want to be there’s not a geographical location which comes to mind. It doesn’t really matter where I am as long as it’s taking me somewhere; I want to continue developing as a dancer.

dancer wears a red shirt

Jozef Varga Photograph : Angela Sterling

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