People of dance

Zdjęcie: Barbara Bittnerówna

Anna Steller. Portret. Fot. Jakub Wittchen

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Barbara Bittnerówna – outstanding Polish dancer, prima ballerina of the Grand Theatre in Poznań, Silesian Opera in Bytom and Opera in Warsaw. She was born on 4 September 1924 in Lviv. She took private dance lessons, in the beginning with Stanisław Faliszewski in Lviv, then in a private school managed by Zygmunt Dąbrowski in Warsaw. She was regarded as “a child prodigy”, she performed at the stage of the Grand Theatre in Lviv at the age of 11. She remembers that as a child she used to run barefoot on tiptoe around the table, later, as an adult dancer, she would often not use pads or ribbons for pointe shoes. In 1939–1944 she performed in Warsaw, she survived the war by dancing for Warsaw private stages. After the war, in 1946–1949 she was the prima ballerina of the Grand Theatre in Poznań, next she became the prima ballerina of the Silesian Opera (1949–1951). In 1951 she joined the ballet of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw where she remained as the prima ballerina till 1957. Her dance partners in Warsaw were: Stanisław Szymański, Jerzy Kapliński, Bronisław Kropidłowski and Wojciech Wiesiołłowski. In the same year she won the first prize in the International Dance Competition in Vercelli, Italy. She formed an excellent dance partnership with Witold Gruca, with whom she also performed later for theatres as “a stage duo”. In 1960–1963 she performed in the Small Forms Theatre “Arabeska”. In 1965 she became the prima ballerina of the Music Theatre in Warsaw, since 1970 she co-operated with music and drama theatres as a movement director and choreographer. She played the unforgettable leading role of the ballet Romeo and Juliet by Prokofiev as well as many classical, demi-classical and contemporary parts. Her autobiographical book Not only about dance (“Nie tylko o tańcu”), with her memories and reflections on ballet art, was published in 2004.

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