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The beginnings of the Slovak ballet go back to the historic day of the first ballet premiere of Coppélia by C. Ph. L. Delibes on May 19, 1920. The choreography was by Vaclav Kalina, the first artistic director of the SND Ballet. In the season 1922 - 1923 this position was taken over by Czech dancer Marta Aubrechtová.
Oskar Nedbal, Director of the SND, invited the Italian ballet master and choreographer Achille Viscusi to Bratislava for the season 1923 - 1924. For the next eight years Viscusi was playing an important role in professionalizing the ensemble as well as the repertoire. He staged such works as From Fairy Tale to Fairy Tale, A Tale about John, Princess Hyacinth, and Andersen (music by O. Nedbal), Slavonic Dances (music by A. Dvořák), The Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Giselle, Sheherazade, Sylvia (music by L. Delibes), etc. In the years 1931 - 1933 the position of Viscusi was taken over by his pupil, the dancer Ella Fuchsová- Lehotská, who was also known for her private ballet school. The ensemble presented Nicotina (music by V. Novák), The Firebird, Mr. Twardowski (music by L. Roźycki), and many more. The other principal dancers, apart from Fuchsová-Lehotská, were among others O. Janatová-Doušová, A. and I. Vésceyová, V. Jassik, I. R. Stuchlý, J. Jercký, E. Gabzdyl.
After this very successful period other Czech choreographers followed. In 1933 - 1935 Vladimir Pirnikov with the ballet Raymonda, then again E. Fuchsová-Lehotská with Ajanta Frescoes (music by A. N. Tcherepnin), and finally Bohumil Relský with The Christmas Eve Dream (music by M. S. Anger), and A Wedding in the Ukraine (music by O. Fröhlich) in the season of 1937 - 1940. At that time the principal dancers were E. Kováčová, N. Pirniková, M. Chocová, E. Velínska, G. Schmidtová, E. Šajová-Jaczová, V. Libovický, and others.
Between 1940 - 1945 Director of the SND was Maximilián Froman, the representative of the Russian ballet school and member of the world-famous ensemble Ballets Russes. He acquainted the public with the repertoire of Diaghilev's ensemble by presenting such works as Sheherazade, Les Papillons, Carnival, Polovetz Dances, Sylfides and The Sleeping Beauty. The ensemble also presented ballets by the Croatian composer K. Baranovič Imbrek with a Nose and The Gingerbread Heart. At that time the ensemble was joined by the Bulgarian ballerina M. Vasileva and by B. Füssegger.
In the years 1948 - 1955 Stanislav Remar markedly influenced the dramaturgy of the SND Ballet by presenting the first Slovak ballet Orfeus and Eurydike by T. Andrašovan (1949), and by staging works such as The Flames of Paris, The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, Prokofiev´s Cinderella and Romeo and Juliet, and by foreign guest choreographers: the representative of the Russian school, Alexander R.Tomsky, who staged The Red Poppy (music by R. M. Glier), and the Hungarian choreographer, Gyula Harangozó, who staged The Kerchief (music by J. Kenessey). Next was Jozef Zajko, the first Slovak theatrical choreographer, who staged the first ballet with Slovak motif The Knight´s Ballad by Šimon Jurovský (1960). Soloists were T. Isičenková, G. Basová, A. Herényi-Starostová, J. Manšingrová, G. Tašká-Boudová, J. Mňačková, J. Zajko, T. Beňo, F. O. Bernatik, M. Herényi, V. Marek, L. Lejko, H. Volejníček, P. M. Rapoš, etc.
The coming of Karol Tóth to the post of the artistic director of the SND Ballet (1960 - 1972) marked new independence of the ensemble. His first choreography was Fadetta by L. Delibes. During his leadership Marilena Tóthová and Jozef Zajko took part in creating the repertoire. The SND Ballet presented important premieres of some original works, e.g. Ikaros (music by T. Andrašovan), The Ninth Wave (music by K. Odstrčil), The Command (music by V. Bukový), and ballets such as Voyage in a Storm (music by A. Kara-Karajev), The Scythian Suite (music by S. S. Prokofiev), Don Quixote, Servant of Two Masters (music by J. Burghauser), Snow White and Seven Dwarfs (music by Z. Vostřák), The Rites of Spring, Love, the Magician, Peter and Wolf - choreography by Karol. Tóth. The ballets Doctor Auch (music by I. V. Morozov), Girl and a Hooligan, The Leningrad Symphony (music by D. D. Shostakovitch ), Straussiana, Valpurginian Night, La boité à joujoux, etc. were staged by the choreographer Marilena. Tóthová. The choreographies of the ballets Daphnis and Chloe, The Miraculous Mandarin, and Francesca da Rimini (music by P. I. Tchaikovsky) were by Jozef Zajko. Leading soloists were A. Herényiová, Z. Červeňáková, T. Pomšár, A. Halász, T. Ivan, and the graduates from the Dance Department of the Conservatory in Bratislava F. Lojeková, J. Haľama, J. Dolinský.
In 1973 Boris Slovák became head of the SND Ballet. He considerably rejuvenated and enlarged the ensemble. Under his leadership they presented an original work Preludio Eroico by M. Vilec, and an interesting version of Bizet´s Carmen adapted by R. K. Schedrin. Jozef Zajko staged some classical works, e.g. The Fountain of Bakhchisaray and Futile Caution. The guest choreographer Pavel Šmok presented Confidential Letters (music by L. Janáček) and Stravinsky´s The Firebird, which caused a political scandal and was taken off the repertoire until 1990. The repertoire was enriched by guests artists - the Hungarian choreographer Sándor Tóth with the ballet An Evening with Mahler, and the Czech choreographer Miroslav Kůra with an interesting staging of Romeo and Juliet. A trio of Slovak choreographers presented their choreographic versions of some famous ballets - Miroslav Štauder staged Pygmalion, (music by J. A. Benda), Jozef Sabovčík Anna Karenina (music by R. K. Schedrin), and Jozef Dolinský Petrushka. Principal dancers were G. Záhradníková, D. Pilzová, V. Zlochová, E. Šenkýříková, Z. Innemanová, Z. Nagy, J. P. Plavnik, P. Dúbravík, D. Nebyla, L. Vaculík, and others.
At the end of the seventies and the beginning of the eighties Karol Tóth returned to the post of the artistic director and continued in the same general direction. The Ballet presented works of Slovak composers, e.g. Magic Night and Poem Macabre (music by E. Suchoň), The Jinxes (music by I. Zeljenka), Soldier and a Mother (music by J. Cikker), choreographies by Karol. Tóth, and also Metamorphoses (music by E. Suchoň), choreography by Jozef Dolinský, and a ballet for children A Bug was Born (music by T. Frešo), choreography by Jozef Zajko. Of Russian provenance the most successful was Spartacus by A. I. Khachaturian staged by Otar M. Dadishkiliani. Other premieres were Three Cards (music by K. V. Molchanov), The Prodigal Son, The Inspector (music by A. B. Tchaikovsky), choreography by Jozef Dolinský, followed by The Legend of Love, Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, etc. Among the best were works by Karol Tóth, such as The Rites of Spring, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (music by M. Jarre), as well as a composition by the Cuban choreographer, Iván Tenorio, The House of Bernarda Alba (music by S. F. Barroso). Other choreographers at that time were Miroslav Kůra and a Slovenian choreographer Henrik Neubauer.
The end of the eighties was for the SND Ballet a time for young artists. Libor Vaculík, choreographer and dancer, presented What Man Tells me, what Love Tells You (music by G. Mahler, B. Martinů), and an evening titled ÓVÓ for Vivaldi compiled of his choreographies such as Vivaldi, Getting Dark, Dialogs - Love, Death, Et Cetera (music by G. Mahler and J. Rodrigo), followed by original works In Memoriam (music by V. Godár), Discrepancies (music by M. Burlas), choreography by Igor Holováč. A spectacular event turned to be the staging of an expressive two-part ballet by two young choreographers titled Lux et Requiem. Its first part was Ecstasy of Ghosts (music by W. A. Mozart) by Robert Balogh and the second part Requiem (music by G. Verdi) by Ondrej Šoth.
In May 1989, Emil Tomáš Bartko, critic and theoretician, takes over the position of the artistic director. The SND Ballet fulfils various creative ambitions pertaining to dramaturgy and culture of movements. The ensemble presents choreographies by Ondrej Šoth: Strange Happiness to Live (music by M. Pavlíček), Light in the Dark (music by M. Ničík), La Dame aux Camelias (a compilation of the works by F. Liszt and R. Wagner), an extremely successful musical for children Snow White and Seven Racers (music by V. Patejdl), choreography of the last two by Libor Vaculík. The French choreographer, Bruno Genty, presents a one-act ballet Words from the Mouth of Angels (music by the group Toxedomoon), the American, Mark Diamond, a miniature Magnificat (music by J. S. Bach), the Swiss, Etienne Frey, an expressive ballet Les Mutants (music by P. Gabriel), and the former principal dancer from New York City Ballet, Christopher d´ Amboise, an anti-drug ballet fantasy The Children of Titanic, music by Slovak composer D. Rapoš. Among premieres we can find an interesting stage adaptation of a Swiss television version of Wedding by Stravinsky, with choreography by P. Šmok, who also staged The Firebird, and the come-back of Carmen, prepared by Boris Slovák.
Classical works were rehearsed and recreated by the guest pedagogue, Rafael G. Avnikjan - The Swan Lake, Don Quixote, etc. as well as The Nutcracker, Coppélia, Lavrovsky´s Paganini based on the version of J. D. Sech, M. M. Fokin´s Sheherazade created by the legendary Nicholas Beriozoff. Many works were staged by the youngest generation of choreographers, e. g. Igor Holováč - Quartet for One (music by I. Zeljenka) and Love, the Magician, Vladimír Marušin - Musica Slovaca (music by I. Zeljenka), Ján Ďurovčík - The Rites of Spring. At that time the general intention was to stage a wide range of works interesting for the audience and the ensemble as well. During the next seven years new faces appeared on stage - soloists I. Čierniková, N. Gallovičová, I. Murčeková-Kačiaková, A. Svobodová, N. Stehlíková, J. Dolinský, Jr., J. Goga, I. Holováč, J. Šiška, J. Vasilenko, M. Radačovský, L. Hýllová, M. Zábavík, and R. Lazík, who in 1996 brought home the first medal from the World Competition in New York.
This phase ended due to some outside circumstances in 1996 when for a short time the position of Director of the SND Ballet was taken over by Gabriela Záhradniková (1996 - 1997). The quality of the ensemble went visibly down. In 1997 - 1998 it was Jozef Sabovčík whose staging of Spartacus brought this period to a close.
The comeback of Emil T. Bartko to the position of Director in 1999 meant that many excellent dancers returned to the SND - I. Holováč, R. Lazík, L. Alpijeva, etc., as well as ballet masters R. G. Avnikjan and I. Čierniková. And suddenly there again was space for a wide range of different works and choreographies. From pure orthodox classical ballets such as Giselle, La Bayadère, staged by Rafael G. Avnikjan and Karin Alaverdjan, Sleeping Beauty staged by Bachram M. Juldashev and Jozef Dolinský, the Nutcracker, through Magnificat, Sheherazade, Classical Symphony to the works staged by our own choreographers - Ondrej Šoth Carmina Burana - Requiem (music by C. Orff - G. Verdi), and a miniature Adagietto (music by G.Mahler), the choreographic debut of Jozef Dolinský, Jr. with a fantasy A Wish (music by H. Tóth) and Ján Ďurovčík with the innovated The Rites of Spring. On May 19, 2000 the 80th anniversary of the SND Ballet was celebrated by a gala concert where, in addition to our dancers, guest performers from Budapest, Moscow, Paris and Vienna participated.
In 2001 three works were staged. The first one was the most famous ballet Romeo and Juliet based on the choreography by Nichlas Beriozoff and recreated by Riccardo Duse and Jozef Dolinský. Then the version of the M. Jarre´s ballet The Hunchback of Notre Dame, with choreography by Libor Vaculik followed, and the last one was an original fairy tale ballet A Bug was Born (music by T. Frešo), a new choreography - production by Igor Holováč and libretto by N. Slovák.
The world´s premiere of Ján Ďurovčík´s Rasputin (music by H. Leško) opened the door to original works, such as Caligula by Igor Holováč (music by H. Leško).
The ballet ensemble is now represented by a new young generation of dancers - V. Henschová, L. Holečková, E. Jenčková, A. Kršková, E. Petráková,N. Poláková, V. Šimončíková, M. Blahuta, J. Černuška, A. Kremz, R. Novitzky and also by dancers from abroad - T. Nomura, S. Mühlbauer-Peron, C. M. Zaharia, M. Zheleznyakova, H. Baluch, A. Ducin.