February 2019 
Poster: Adam Żebrowski.

Warsaw: Teatr Wielki – Polish National Ballet premieres "Pupa" by Anna Hop

28 January 2018 | 19:00 | Warsaw: Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, Młynarski Hall, Plac Teatralny 1

performance presentation

The Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera and the Polish National Ballet present Pupa, a ballet in one act choreographed by Anna Hop and set to music by Stanisław Syrewicz. The choreographer and composer reveal a fascination for Gombrowicz’s grotesque. Together they want to translate elements of the writer’s symbolism into a musical and visual language. Entering into everyday relationships with outer people we adopt a range of poses, play a variety of roles. Sometimes we direct the theatre of life, sometimes we accept the parts we are assigned. In his novel Ferdydurke Gombrowicz used the words "pupa" (rump) and "gęba" (ugly face, a mug) to signify the relations of dependence that we often enter into unconsciously. The title of the ballet refers to these enduring roles and labels. 


The ballet has been conceived by Stanisław Syrewicz, a well-known composer of theatre and film music, who has worked with such directors as Ken Russell, Andrzej Żuławski, and Jerzy Skolimowski. He developed the ballet together with his daughter, Klara Syrewicz, who wrote the libretto, and young choreographer Anna Hop, on a commission from the Teatr Wielki – Polisn National Opera. Hop is a dancer of the Polish National Ballet. She has created a few choreographic miniatures before and showcased them as part of the PNB's annual choreographic workshops. She has also devised a children's show titled Bajki ci opowiem...  (I'll tell you a story) set to music by Witold Lutosławski for the Szczecin opera house and collaborated as choreographer on Katarzyna Jungowska's film Piąte: nie odchodź(The Fifth: Thou shalt not leave). Pupa is Hop's official choreographic debut on the stage of the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera.


The creators of the ballet have faced an uneasy task of adapting Gomborwicz's novel for stage. As Klara Syrewicz put it, "The structure of this ballet is not modelled on the plot of Ferdydurke; instead it is a reaction to issues discussed by the novel, such as an inability to express oneself, artificiality of cultural traditions, oppression, and loneliness. Although the topics have a dramatic overtone, Gomboricz's prose bears no trace of lyricism. He always mixes drama with grotesque. There isn't a moment when an individual or a group isn't confronted with Gombrowicz's 'hell of the form': school discipline, fossilised approach to culture and homeland, pre-assigned family roles, imposed beauty canons, conformism of romantic relationships, etc. As the show develops, it becomes clear that characters are unable to set free from the corset of imposed personality. Every attempt to stand up to the form gets them trapped in another form, as rebelling is another form of conformism."


Anna Hop's choreography focuses on the observation of human body or even its independent parts, in an attempt to start a dialogue with the grotesque and everyday absurdities pinpointed by Gombrowicz. The stage designer is Małgorzata Szabłowska, who has recently designed scenography for Krzysztof Pastor's choreography Adagio & Scherzo put on by the Teatr Wielki. Costumes for Pupa have been desired by Katarzyna Rott, while lighting has been designed by Maciej Igielski.




Ballet in one act

Libretto: Klara Syrewicz based on

Ferdydurke by Witold Gombrowicz

World premiere: 14 February 2015


Polish National Ballet

Music from a recording

(electronic music, additional arrangements: Dariusz Kaliński; mastering: Marcin Bociński; the sections Form, Maturity and Słowacki feature recordings of music orchestrated and conducted by Krzesimir Dębski)


Choreography: Anna Hop

Music: Stanisław Syrewicz

Stage design and projections: Małgorzata Szabłowska

Costumes: Katarzyna Rott




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Poster: Adam Żebrowski




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