People of dance

Bożena Kociołkowska

  • choreographer
  • pedagogue
  • dancer
Zdjęcie: Bożena Kociołkowska

Fot. Edward Hartwig

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Bożena Kociołkowska is a dancer, pedagogue and choreographer. She graduated from the State Secondary Ballet School in Warsaw in 1960. In 1961, she made her debut in the Grand Theatre in Warsaw, playing Odette-Odile in Swan Lake.

She worked at the Grand Theatre until 1986, and was noted for her brilliant renditions of many classical and contemporary roles. In 1964–1983, she performed in nearly every country in Europe, but also in the USA and Cuba. She performed in many films, TV programs and performances, including The Rite of Spring, Orpheus and EurydiceSalmo gioiosoClaire de Lune. She received numerous foreign scholarships, among others: Centre Intemational d’Art Choreographique in Paris, Polucca Schule in Dresden, Inter-Balet in Budapest, International Ballet in Havana, Ruth Page Foundation at the School of Dance in Chicago, Centro di Danza in Rome, Giordano Jazz Dance in Chicago. She collaborated with many outstanding choreographers and teachers around the world, including: Natalia Konius, Alexei Chichinadze, Alicia Alonso, Serge Lifar, Birgit Cullberg, Asaf Messerer, Maya Plisetskaya, Pierre Lacotte, Alberto Mendez, Alfred Rodrigues, Anton Dolin, Leon Woïzikovsky and others. In 1979 she graduated in pedagogy of dance from the State Music School (Faculty of Musical Education), and in 1991 she completed postgraduate studies in marketing of professional works of art at the Faculty of Foreign Trade of the Warsaw School of Economics (SGH). In 1981–1996 she created choreographies for 35 music and drama performances as well as for ballets: Straussiada, Miscelanea, Little Red Riding Hood.

In 1992–1993 she was the artistic director of the State Opera and the ballet of Baltic Philharmonic; in 1993–1994 she was the artistic director of the ballet of the Grand Theatre in Łódź, and in 1994–1995 she was the artistic director of the State Ballet School in Warsaw. In 1998, she was appointed the art director of the Secondary Ballet School in Bytom. She was also the artistic and organizational director of the 1st and 2nd ”Dance of the World” Festival (Gdańsk 1991 and Warsaw 1996) as well as the artistic and organizational director of the 1st Polish and German Contemporary Dance Workshops “Dance for tolerance” in Łódź (1994). In 2003 she was the juror of the International Dance Competition in Brno.

She was a teacher of the Academy of Music in Warsaw (1980) and the State Secondary Ballet School in Warsaw (1993), ballet master of Teatro dell’ Opera in Rome (1981–1982), teacher of ballet schools in Italy, Germany, France, teacher of Internationales Tanzprojekt in Aachen, Bielefeld and Bonn (1992), Internationale Tanzwerkstatt in Bonn (1993), and tutor at the 1st World Dance Congress in San Francisco. She is also a social activist. In 1991–1994 she was the president of the Ballet Section of the Association of Polish Stage Artists (ZASP), and in 1992–1998 a member of the International Commission of Art Dance Networks in Bonn; in 1995–1999 she was the president of the Choreography Section of the Association of Polish Authors and Composers (ZAiKS).

In 2005 she initiated the International Choreographic Competition for Ballet School Students in Bytom, which was subsequently named after her in 2018. In 2008, she started the Foundation for the Art of Dance (FST), with which she implemented projects such as Zatańcz i Ty – pierwszy krok w tańcu, pierwszy krok w kulturę (First step in dance, the first step in culture) (2003, 2007), Od baletu do street dance’u (From ballet to street dance) (2011), the sculpture W hołdzie polskim artystom baletu przy Teatrze Wielkim – Operze Narodowej (Tribute to Polish ballet artists at the Grand Theatre – National Opera) (2016), the Polish message for the International Dance Day (since 2017). She is the originator and co-organizer (together with the National Institute of Music and Dance) of the 1st National Competition “Perły tańca” (Jewels of dance) as well as the FST prize “Perły tańca,” awarded to dance artists for outstanding activity in Poland and abroad.

Her texts on the art of dance have been published in a number of periodicals and journals, including “Twoja Muza,” “Biuletyn ZASP,” “Bez Wierszówki,” and “Ostoja.”

Notable parts:

Odette-Odile (Swan Lake, 1961, 1966, 1973), Queen of the Copper Mountain (The Stone Flower, 1961), The Girl (Four Temperaments, 1962), Miller’s Wife (The Three-Cornered Hat, 1962), The Girl (Enchanted Inn, 1962), Eurydice (Orpheus, 1963), Soloist (The Rite of Spring, 1965), Bride (Harnasie, 1966), Kitri (Don Quixote, 1967), Aegina (Spartacus, 1968), Fairy Godmother (Cinderella, 1969), Liza Woka (Salmo gioioso, 1972), Ballerina (Petrushka, 1973), Juliet (Romeo and Juliet, 1975), title role in Miss Julie (1975), Prima ballerina (Les Sylphides, 1975), Mirta (Giselle, 1976), and the title role in Phaedra (1978)

Notable awards:

Gold Cross of Merit (1979), Gold Honorable Mention “For Merit to Warsaw” (1979, 1980), Knight’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1986), Badge of Merit to Culture (1989), 1st Grade Individual Award of the Centre for Art Education CEA (2001), Terpsichore Statuette – special prize of the Dance and Ballet Section of the Association of Polish Stage Artists (2006), Witold Hulewicz Award for services to the art of dance (2020), and the Gold Cross for Merits to Culture “Gloria Artis” (2021).

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