Choreographer and Artist – Maté Szentes

Written by: Maggie Small published at:

Maté Szentes, a native of Pécs, Hungary, trained at the Hungarian Dance Academy. Upon graduating, he joined the Hungarian National Ballet for three seasons. While he enjoyed dancing in a big company, with 120 dancers, he had a strong urge to live and dance in the U.S. As a teenager he had spent two summers on scholarship at North Carolina Dance Theater, now Charlotte Ballet. He was fascinated by the different styles and teaching methods in the U.S., and felt more accepted by others than he ever had before.

In 2012 he joined Sacramento Ballet, where he had long summer breaks and would travel to take advantage of the ample gig work available in Southern California. After three years, he joined Richmond Ballet for six seasons. “But I knew I would want to come back to California,” he says. “I love the weather, the scenery, there’s always something to do and it’s a different pace.”

When the pandemic hit, Szentes decided it was the right time to move back. Having built a diverse network through his summer-layoff gigs, he felt confident pursuing a freelance dance career and expanding his interest in choreography. With Los Angeles–based American Contemporary Ballet as his home base, Szentes also works with groups like Ballet Project OC and Barak Ballet on shorter-term projects.

For Szentes, balancing his career goals with living in a place that makes him happy has been a constantly changing strategy. “You have to see what you want at different times because it always changes. Five years ago, I had different priorities than I have now.”