Polish National Ballet

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Teatr Wielki (Grand Theater) in Warsaw,
home of the Polish National Ballet.

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 2009 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.[1]

Ballet events in Polish history[edit]

His Majesty’s National Dancers in the Theatre at Krasiński Square, 1790, National Museum in Warsaw

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.[2]

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).[3] Performances were held on stage at the National Theatre building in Krasiński Square, Warsaw. Its heritage was continued by subsequent Polish companies.

Leading dancers of polish romantic ballet: Aleksander Tarnowski and Konstancja Turczynowicz in cachucha dance in Teatr Wielki, 1847, lithograph by Henryk Hirszel, Theatre Museum in Warsaw

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.[4]

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,[5] and Leon Woizikovsky (orig. Wójcikowski).[6] Bronislava Nijinska, sister of Vaslav Nijinsky, was of Polish heritage,[7] though trained in Sankt Peterburg for her debut. She danced with Ballets Russes, and rose to become its choreographer.[8][9]

During the Second Polish Republic, Nijinska headed the Ballet Polonais, newly formed in Warsaw in 1937. At the Paris Exposition Internationale of that year, this Polish Ballet won the Grand Prix for performance, Nijinska the Gran Prix for choreography.[10][11] In 1938 the Ballet Polonaise was directed by Leon Woizikovsky, 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.[12] The dance company later became the Polish National Ballet, which continues to rehearse and perform in Teatr Wielki.

Under new name and status[edit]

Krzysztof Pastor, director of the Polish National Ballet, photo Łukasz Murgrabia

On 18 March 2009 Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor,[13] 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.[14] 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):[15]

  • 29 March 2009: Tristan by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 3 April 2009: Romeo and Juliet by Emil Wesołowski (revival)
  • 8 April 2009: Swan Lake by Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov / Irek Mukhamedov (revival)
  • 16 May 2009: Onegin by John Cranko / Georgette Tsinguirides (revival)
  • 28 May 2009: La Bayadère by Marius Petipa / Natalia Makarova (revival)
  • 10 June 2009: Anna Karenina by Alexei Ratmansky (revival)
  • 24 June 2009: When You End and I Begin... by Robert Bondara (world premiere)
  • 20 November 2009: Kurt Weill by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 17 December 2009: The Nutcracker by Andrzej Glegolski (revival)
  • 23 April 2010: In Search of Colours by Jacek Tyski (world premiere)
  • 23 April 2010: Alpha Kryonia Xe by Jacek Przybyłowicz (revival)
  • 9 May 2010: Chopin, the Romantic Artist by Patrice Bart (world premiere)
  • 30 May 2010: The Sleeping Beauty by Marius Petipa / Yuri Grigorovich (revival)
  • 25 June 2010: The Kisses by Emil Wesołowski (world premiere)
  • 25 June 2010: Concerto Barocco by George Balanchine (Polish premiere)
  • 25 June 2010: The Green by Ed Wubbe (Polish premiere)
  • 25 June 2010: In Light and Shadow by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 27 November 2010: Cinderella by Frederick Ashton / Wendy Ellis-Somes (Polish premiere)
  • 27 March 2011: And the Rain Will Pass… by Krzysztof Pastor (world premiere)
  • 11 June 2011: Le Sacre du printemps by Vaslav Nijinsky / Millicent Hodson (Polish premiere)
  • 11 June 2011: The Rite of Spring by Emanuel Gat (Polish premiere)
  • 11 June 2011: Le Sacre du printemps by Maurice Béjart (Polish premiere)
  • 18 September 2011: Persona by Robert Bondara (world premiere)
  • 25 November 2011: The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Toer van Schayk and Wayne Eagling (Polish premiere)
  • 14 April 2012: The Prodigal Son by George Balanchine (Polish premiere)
  • 14 April 2012: Cain and Abel by Emil Wesołowski (world premiere)
  • 14 April 2012: Six Wings of Angels by Jacek Przybyłowicz (world premiere)
  • 17 November 2012: Century Rolls by Ashley Page (world premiere)
  • 17 November 2012: Moving Rooms by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 17 November 2012: Artifact Suite by William Forsythe (Polish premiere)
  • 15 March 2013: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by John Neumeier (Polish premiere)
  • 13 October 2012: Weill Suite by Krzysztof Pastor (premiere)
  • 13 October 2012: Afternoon of a Faun by Jacek Tyski (world premiere)
  • 3 October 2013: Hamlet by Jacek Tyski (world premiere)
  • 7 March 2014: Romeo and Juliet by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 29 March 2014: Adagio & Scherzo by Krzysztof Pastor (world premiere)
  • 29 March 2014: Returning Waves by Emil Wesołowski (revival)
  • 29 May 2014: Don Quixote by Marius Petipa, Aleksandr Gorski / Alexei Fedeyechev (premiere)
  • 15 November 2014: Nevermore...? by Robert Bondara (world premiere)
  • 15 November 2014: Soldiers' Mass by Jiří Kylián (Polish premiere)
  • 15 November 2014: The Green Table by Kurt Jooss / Jeanette Vondersaar (warsaw premiere)
  • 14 February 2015: Pupa by Anna Hop (world premiere)
  • 28 May 2015: Casanova in Warsaw by Krzysztof Pastor (world premiere)
  • 27 November 2015: The Taming of the Shrew by John Cranko / Jane Bourne (Polish premiere)
  • 9 April 2016: The Tempest by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 25 November 2016: Chopiniana by Mikhail Fokine / Alexei Fadeyechev (premiere)
  • 25 November 2016: Bolero by Krzysztof Pastor (Polish premiere)
  • 25 November 2016: Chroma by Wayne McGregor (Polish premiere)
  • 20 May 2017: Swan Lake by Krzysztof Pastor (world premiere with new libretto)
  • 14 June 2017: Darkness by Izadora Weiss (world premiere)
  • 10 November 2017: Świtezianka by Robert Bondara (premiere)
  • 10 November 2017: On a Stave (Tansman's Sextuor) by Jacek Tyski (Polish premiere)
  • 10 November 2017: Szymanowski's Violin Concerto no. 2 by Jacek Przybyłowicz (world premiere)
  • 20 April 2018: Lady of the Camellias by John Neumeier (Polish premiere, in the plan)

Leading soloists[edit]

First female soloists First male soloists
  • Chinara Alizade[16] (since 2016)
  • Magdalena Ciechowicz[17] (2010-2016)
  • Dagmara Dryl[18] (since 2016)
  • Yuka Ebihara[19] (since 2013)
  • Marta Fiedler[20] (since 2007)
  • Karolina Jupowicz[21] (2000-2016)
  • Mai Kageyama[22] (since 2017)
  • Dominika Krysztoforska[23] (since 1998)
  • Aleksandra Liashenko[24] (2010-2015)
  • Izabela Milewska[25] (2001-2015)
  • Maria Żuk[26] (since 2012)
  • Sergey Basalaev[27] (2003-2014)
  • Petr Borchenko (2009-2010)
  • Robert Gabdullin[28](in 2012)
  • Paweł Koncewoj[29] (since 2014)
  • Egor Menshikov[30] (2009-2012)
  • Sergey Popov[31] (2009-2013)
  • Wojciech Ślęzak[32] (since 2000)
  • Dawid Trzensimiech[33] (since 2016)
  • Maksim Woitiul[34] (since 2002)
  • Vladimir Yaroshenko[35] (since 2010)

On tour[edit]

  • 2010: Russia, Saint Petersburg, Mariinsky Theatre, 18th White Night Music Festival (Chopin, the Romantic Artist x 2)
  • 2010: China, Shanghai, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, Expo 2010 (Chopin, the Romantic Artist x 2)
  • 2010: Norway, Bergen, Den Nye Opera, Bergen, Norway (When You End and I Begin... / In Search of Colours / Alpha Kryonia Xe x 3)
  • 2012: Spain, Sevilla, Teatro de la Maestranza (La Bayadère x 5)
  • 2012: Finland, Kuopio, Music Centre, Kuopio Dance Festival (Weill Suite / When You End and I Begin... / Afternoon of a Faun / The Green x 2)
  • 2013: USA, Houston, Cullen Theater, Dance Salad Festival (Kurt Weill / And the Rain Will Pass... / Moving Rooms / Persona – excerpts x 3)
  • 2013: Spain, Barcelona, Gran Teatre del Liceu (The Kisses / Concerto Barocco / The Green / In Light and Shadow x 4)
  • 2013: Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre (Century Rolls / Moving Rooms / Artifact Suite x 2)
  • 2015: USA, New York, Joyce Theatre (Adagio & Scherzo / The Rite of Spring by Emanuel Gat / Moving Rooms x 7)
  • 2015: USA, Washington, Eisenhower Theater (Adagio & Scherzo / The Rite of Spring by Emanuel Gat / Moving Rooms x 1)
  • 2016: Netherlands, The Hague, Zuiderstrandtheater (Romeo and Juliet x 2)
  • 2016: Lithuania, Vilnius, Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre, Krzysztof Pastor’s Birthday Gala (Adagio / Moving Rooms x 1)
  • 2017: Russia, Saint Petersburg, Alexandrinsky Theatre, Dance Open Festival (The Tempest x 1)


  1. ^ Cf. Polish National Ballet at website Teatr Wielki / Opera Narodowa. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  2. ^ Paweł Chynowski, History of the Polish National Ballet. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  3. ^ Halina Goldberg, The Age of Chopin (Indiana University 2004), p. 110. Accessed 2-17-04-11.
  4. ^ Paweł Chynowski, History of the Polish National Ballet. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  5. ^ Cyril W. Beaumont, The Art of Stanislas Idzikowski (London: Beaumont Press, 1926), pp. 7-8. Idzikowski (1894-1977) was ten when he started at the ballet school in Teatr Wielki. After his debut, when sixteen he left for London. In a few years Diaghilev asked him to join.
  6. ^ Paweł Chynowski, History of the Polish National Ballet. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  7. ^ Bronislava Nijinska, Early Memoirs (New York: Holt Rinehart Winston 1981), pp. 3-13. Both parents of Nijinska (1891-1972) were professional ballet dancers who'd been trained at Teatr Wielki.
  8. ^ Lynn Garafola, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes (Oxford University 1989), 122-134 (Nijinska); ix, 376 (reference to her Théâtre de la Danse [Paris 1932-1934] that "carried on Diaghilev's experimental tradition").
  9. ^ Agnes de Mille, The Book of the Dance (London: Paul Hamlyn 1963), pp. 152-153 (Bronislava Nijinska).
  10. ^ Nijinska, Early Memoirs (1981), pp. 521-522.
  11. ^ Nancy Van Norman Baer, Bronislava Nijinska. A Dancer's Legacy (Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco 1986), pp. 65-66.
  12. ^ Paweł Chynowski, History of the Polish National Ballet. Accessed 11 April 2017.
  13. ^ Krzysztof Paster at Culture.pl. Accessed 2017-04-11.
  14. ^ Paweł Chynowski, History of the Polish National Ballet. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  15. ^ Polish National Ballet at website Teatr Wielki / Opera Narodowa. Accessed 7 April 2017.
  16. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/chinara-alizade/
  17. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/magdalena-ciechowicz/
  18. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/dagmara-dryl/
  19. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/yuka-ebihara/
  20. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/marta-fiedler/
  21. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/karolina-jupowicz/
  22. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/mai-kageyama/
  23. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/dominika-krysztoforska/
  24. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/aleksandra-liashenko/
  25. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/izabela-milewska/
  26. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/maria-zuk/
  27. ^ http://www.taniecpolska.pl/people/184
  28. ^ https://www.wiener-staatsoper.at/en/artists/ballet/detail/artist/35-gabdullin-robert/
  29. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/pawel-koncewoj/
  30. ^ http://www.egormenshikov.com/phone/index.html
  31. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/the-theatre/news/single-news/n/sergey-popov-leaves-pnb/
  32. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/wojciech-slezak/
  33. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/dawid-trzensimiech/
  34. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/maksim-woitiul/
  35. ^ http://teatrwielki.pl/en/people/vladimir-yaroshenko/

External links[edit]

See also[edit]