Photos: Dancer performs ‘virus melody’ in empty Budapest square

Hungarian ballet dancer Zsolt Kovacs performs a choreographic piece he has designed for the 'coronavirus melody', a musical composition created by MIT scientists from a model of the protein structure of SARS-CoV-2, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Budapest, Hungary, April 28, 2020. Picture taken April 28, 2020. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

Dressed in black and wearing a facemask, the dancer leaps and pirouettes across Budapest’s deserted central Heroes Square – to the strains of a melody that mirrors the molecular structure of the coronavirus.

To mark World Dance Day, Zsolt Vencel Kovacs was performing his interpretation of part of the composition created this month by Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists.

“For me this music brings melancholy, its monotony gives me tension and as the music progresses it becomes more rhythmical and aggressive and at the end it calms down.”

The MIT team used a computer to transform a model of the structure of SARS-CoV-2 – as the virus that causes COVID-19 is known – into interwoven melodies, assigning a different note to each of the protein’s amino acids.

A dancer with the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet, Kovacs had to return home when Europe’s borders went into lockdown, catching the last flight back to Budapest for Hungarian citizens.

Now he practices at home and works in a bakery, hoping to return to Lithuania once the restrictions ease.

Meanwhile, he is challenging other choreographers to perform their own interpretations of the “COVID melody” at other famous locations, showcasing their beauty to future visitors.

“The aim is to make squares and sites that have emptied because of the coronavirus, popular. At the moment, even the statues feel lonely,” he said.

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