|Polish National Ballet|
|Name||Polish National Ballet|
|Previous names||Balet Teatru Wielkiego – Opery Narodowej|
|Founders||Stanisław II August|
|Principal venue||Grand Theatre, Warsaw|
|Artistic Director||Krzysztof Pastor|
The Polish National Ballet (PNB) is the largest and the most important ballet company in Poland. It continues a national ballet heritage, which dates to the 17th century.
Modernly it was known until 2008 as the ballet of the Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera. In that year the ballet received artistic autonomy reflected in the theatre's by-laws and was elevated to the rank of Polish National Ballet. Since then, its director is Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor.
In 1628 a traveling Italian opera troupe created the first ballet performance in Poland. Ballet scenes were then often incorporated into operas held at the court theater. For many years it was foreign dancers who performed. Eventually in 1765 the first permanent ballet company was formed, on the initiative of the king Stanisław II August. The company functioned with some interruptions in the Saxon’s Opernhaus (opera house), the first Polish public theater. A 1766 book on ballet by the famous ballet master of France Jean-Georges Noverre was dedicated to the Polish king.
Maciej Pręczyński (Prenczyński) was the first well-known Polish dancer; he worked with Gasparo Angiolini in Venice and Vienna in the 1770s. In 1785 Stanisław II August established a company of young dancers, trained in a ballet school at a Lithuanian estate. This first professional ballet company of predominantly Polish dancers was known as His Majesty’s National Dancers (1785-1794).Performances were held on stage at the National Theatre building in Krasiński Square, Warsaw. Its heritage was continued by subsequent Polish companies.
During the Romantic era the National Ballet School flourished in Warsaw. After 1818 it was guided by French ballet masters Louis Thierry and Maurice Pion. Under construction 1825-1833, the Teatr Wielki (Grand Theater) then became the artistic center for both opera and ballet in Poland. The choreographer and teacher Roman Turczynowicz became a Polish ballet-master at mid-century. Several outstanding foreign masters, e.g., Filippo Taglioni, Carlo Blasis, Virgilio Calori, Pasquale Borri, José Mendez, Raffaele Grassi, and Enrico Cecchetti, worked developing Polish dancers.
During the late 19th century, Mathilde Kschessinska (Matylda Krzesińska), a dancer of Polish extraction, became one of the leading lights of the Imperial Theater in St. Petersburg.
Early in the 20th century, there were many Polish dancers who joined the Ballets Russes of Sergei Diaghilev, which climbed to world renown. These included the ballet master Stanislas Idzikowski,Leon Woizikovsky (orig. Wójcikowski), and Mieczyslaw Pianowski. Polish dancers also distinguished themselves in the various Ballets Russes companies that succeeded Diaghilev's. Among these were Yurek Shabelevski, Roman Jasinski, Marian Ladre, Yurek Lazovski, and Nina Novak. Siblings Bronislava Nijinska and Vaslav Nijinsky were of Polish heritage, though they trained under the patronage of the Tsar at the Imperial Academy in St. Petersburg. They danced with Ballets Russes, and both became celebrated choreographers.
During the Second Polish Republic, Nijinska headed the Balet Polski, aka Les Ballets Polonais, aka The Polish Ballets newly formed in Warsaw in 1937.This company was the brainchild of poet Jan Lechoń, and created with the assistance of M. Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, Minister of Public Education and President of the Organization Committee of the Polish Section to the Art and Technical Exhibition in Paris. The company's general director was Arnold Szyfman. For the first season, 1937-1938, Nijinska created five new ballets including Baśń krakowska (La Légende de Cracovie), to music by Michal Kondracki; Pieśń o ziemi naszej (Le Chant de la Terre), to music by Roman Palester; Koncert E-moll Chopina (Concerto de Chopin), to Frédéric Chopin's B-minor piano concerto; Apollo i dziewczyna (Apollon et la Belle), to music by Ludomir Rozycki; and Wezwanie (Le Rappel), set to a score by Boleslaw Woytowicz. This repertoire featured scenery and costumes designed by Teresa Roszkowska, Waclaw Borowski, Wladyslaw Daszewski, and Irena Lorentowicz-Karwowska. The souvenir program for this company's Covent Garden appearances states: "Every gesture and every colour, the ebb and flow of the groups, each step of the soloists, the spirit and harmony of the Polish Ballets are imbued with the artistic ideals of Bronislava Nijinska and her ardent desire that the world should see the dances of her country in their noblest and most beautiful form." At the Paris Exposition Internationale of that year, this Polish Ballet won the Grand Prix for performance, Nijinska the Gran Prix for choreography. In 1938 the Ballets Polonais was directed by Leon Wójcikowski. It appeared at the New York World's Fair in 1939, but World War II caused its closure.
Following the traumas of war, the 'Ballet of Teatr Wielki' reemerged in Warsaw. Yet the original Teatr Wielki had been almost completely destroyed during the 1939 siege of Warsaw. Eventually it was rebuilt and enlarged, in a new facility (also called the Opera Narodowa [National Opera]). Continuing a heritage of several centuries, the new theater opened in 1965. It housed the companies and schools for both opera and ballet, its stage being shared.The dance company later became the Polish National Ballet, which continues to rehearse and perform in Teatr Wielki.
On 18 March 2009 Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor,already engaged with the Dutch National Ballet, became the director of the ballet of Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera. He took over this position with Paweł Chynowski as his proxy only under the condition that the company receive artistic autonomy. Thanks to the efforts of Teatr Wielki’s general director Waldemar Dąbrowski on 29 April 2009 the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage Bogdan Zdrojewski took the decision to separately constitute the ballet in the theater’s by-laws, under the name Polish National Ballet. With the foundation of the Polish National Ballet, the company became autonomous and works as an equal partner to the Polish National Opera.
Polish National Ballet pursues a program of major classic dance formation. It performs an academic choreographic repertoire, but also reaches for 20th-century ballet masterpieces. Invitations are extended to outstanding contemporary choreographers; it also introduces works by young Polish choreographers. With nearly 90 dancers it includes both Polish and foreign dancers and affiliated specialities. The company performs regularly at the Teatr Wielki, when it is not on tour in Poland or performing abroad.
Ballets staged by the Polish National Ballet from its establishing (year, ballet, choreographer):
|Principal female dancers||Principal male dancers|
|First female soloists||First male soloists|
VaslavNijinsky was a ballet dancer and choreographer cited as the greatest male dancer of the early 20th century. Born in Kiev to Polish parents, Nijinsky grew up in Imperial Russia but considered himself to be Polish. He was celebrated for his virtuosity and for the depth and intensity of his characterizations. He could dance en pointe, a rare skill among male dancers at the time, and was admired for his seemingly gravity-defying leaps.
Bronislava Nijinska was a Polish ballet dancer, and an innovative choreographer. She came of age in a family of traveling, professional dancers.
The ballet, The Afternoon of a Faun, was choreographed by Vaslav Nijinsky for the Ballets Russes, and was first performed in the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris on 29 May 1912. Nijinsky danced the main part himself. The music is Claude Debussy's symphonic poem Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune. Both the music and the ballet were inspired by the poem L'Après-midi d'un faune by Stéphane Mallarmé. The costumes, sets and programme illustrations were designed by the painter Léon Bakst.
The Grand Theatre in Warsaw, known in full as the Grand Theatre–National Opera, is a theatre and opera complex situated on the historic Theatre Square in central Warsaw, Poland. The Warsaw Grand Theatre is home to the Polish National Ballet and is one of the largest theatrical venues in the world, with a seating capacity of over 2,000.
The Ballets Russes was an itinerant ballet company begun in Paris that performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout Europe and on tours to North and South America. The company never performed in Russia, where the Revolution disrupted society. After its initial Paris season, the company had no formal ties there.
Les biches is a one-act ballet to music by Francis Poulenc, choreographed by Bronislava Nijinska and premiered by the Ballets Russes on 6 January 1924 at the Salle Garnier in Monte Carlo. Nijinska danced the central role of the Hostess. The ballet has no story, and depicts the random interactions of a group of mainly young people in a house party on a summer afternoon.
The Original Ballet Russe was a ballet company established in 1931 by René Blum and Colonel Wassily de Basil as a successor to the Ballets Russes, founded in 1909 by Sergei Diaghilev. The company assumed the new name Original Ballet Russe after a split between de Basil and Blum. De Basil led the renamed company, while Blum and others founded a new company under the name Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo. It was a large scale professional ballet company which toured extensively in Europe, Australia and New Zealand, the United States, and Central and South America. It closed down operations in 1947.
Henryk Baranowski was a Polish theatre, opera and film director, actor, stage designer, playwright, screenwriter, and poet. He is best known for his starring role in the film Dekalog: One directed by Krzysztof Kieślowski, and also appeared as Rosa's brother Josef in Rosa Luxemburg directed by Margarethe von Trotta and as Napoleon in Pan Tadeusz directed by Andrzej Wajda. He directed over 60 theater and opera productions in Europe, Russia and the US and was the Artistic Director of the Teatr Śląski in Katowice in the mid 2000s. He also directed four "television theatre" productions: ...yes I will Yes, For Phaedra (1998), Saint Witch (2003), and Night is the Mother of Day (2004).
Irina Nijinska was a Russian-Polish ballet dancer who performed with the company of Ida Rubinstein; in the Théatre de la Danse Nijinska; the Ballets Russes of Col. de Basil; the Polish Ballet, and other troupes. She spent much of her later life promoting the work of her mother, Bronislava Nijinska, the dancer and choreographer.
Carlotta Brianza (1867–1930) was an Italian prima ballerina, dancing with La Scala in Milan and later with the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg.
Liam Scarlett was a British choreographer who was an artist in residence with The Royal Ballet and artistic associate with Queensland Ballet. He also choreographed new works for Ballet Black, Miami City Ballet, Norwegian National Ballet, the BalletBoyz, English National Ballet, San Francisco Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Royal New Zealand Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Polish National Ballet, and the Royal Ballet School.
Stanislas Idzikowski was a Polish dancer and ballet master, active in England, and with such historic companies as Pavlova's, Ballets Russes, and Vic-Wells. During his performance career, 1910-1933, he became famous for his brilliant classical technique, and for the development of ballet roles. With Beaumont he co-authored an influential book on the Cecchetti Method, still in print. He later taught dance in London.
Nina Semyonovna Youshkevitch was a Franco-Russian ballet dancer and teacher. After a notable dancing career an injury forced her retirement, and she became a prominent ballet teacher and choreographer.
Krzysztof Pastor is a Polish dancer, choreographer and ballet director. He was resident choreographer with the Dutch National Ballet in Amsterdam from 2003 to 2017, director of the Polish National Ballet in Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw since 2009 and at the same time from 2011 until 2020 was the artistic director of the ballet of the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius.
Vladimir Yaroshenko – Polish-Russian ballet dancer in type danseur noble, first soloist with Yury Grigorovich's Ballet Theatre, Krasnodar, trained in classical Russian ballet school. Polish resident since 2007, engaged with Teatr Wielki, Warsaw, where since September 2010 is a first soloist, and since January 2020 - a principal dancer of Polish National Ballet under direction of Krzysztof Pastor.
Yuka Ebihara is a Japanese ballet dancer. Since September 2011, she has been engaged with Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki. Since September 2013, she became a first soloist, and since January 2020 she is a principal dancer of the Polish National Ballet.
Leon Woizikovsky originally Léon Wójcikowski was a Polish dancer and ballet master, and later choreographer and teacher. He first came to prominence as a member of the Ballets Russes. Later he worked with various ballet companies, e.g., Pavlova, de Basil, de Valois, Ballet Polonaise, Massine, the London Festival, the Royal Flemish.
Halina Schmolz was a Polish ballet dancer.
The Theatre Museum in Warsaw is gathering collections related to the history of Polish and foreign theatres.
Agnieszka Rehlis is a Polish operatic mezzo-soprano who has made an international career. She is known for portraying Verdi characters including Amneris and Azucena. She participated in music by Krzysztof Penderecki, including the world premiere of his Eighth Sinfonie and the Grammy Award–winning collection Penderecki Conducts Penderecki.