People of dance

Karol Urbański

  • choreographer
  • pedagogue
Zdjęcie: Karol Urbański

Karol Urbański. Photo by: Filip Błażejowski

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Karol Urbański – dancer, choreographer, teacher, ballet director, in years 2022-2023 Deputy Director in charge of the Department of Dance at the National Institute of Music and Dance.

He graduated from the State Ballet School in Lodz (1984), the Department of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw (2001, MA thesis entitled Dance as Philosophys Research Subject), and post-graduate studies in arts and cultural management at the Faculty of Management of the University of Warsaw.

As a student, he started to collaborate with the Grand Theatre in Lodz, where he worked for nine years as a dancer and soloist, with a twoyear break for serving in the army. At that time he was a member of the Central Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Peoples Army (currently known as: Central Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Army).

In 1991 he moved to Warsaw and joined the Teatr Wielki Polish National Operas ballet. In 1995 he moved to Norway and danced in the Norwegian National Ballet. Having returned to Poland in 1997 he engaged himself again as a soloist in the Polish National Opera ballet, where he worked until 2010. Between 2010 and 2012, having finished his career as a dancer, he worked as a specialist in professional reorientation of dancers at the Teatr Wielki Polish National Opera. In 2008 he held a threemonth internship at London Contemporary Dance School The Place.

His repertoire encompasses the following roles: Prince Siegfried in the Swan Lake, Prince Albert in Giselle, Mouse King in the Nutcracker, Simones Mother in the Wayward Daughter, Wise man in the Rite of Spring (chor. Emil Wesołowski), Angel of Death in the Four Last Songs (chor. Rudi van Danzing), Stefanio in the Tempest (chor. Glen Tetley); he also featured in Petit Mort (chor. Jiří Kylián), Carmen (chor. Mats Ek) and A Sort of (chor. Mats Ek), Stabat Mater (chor. Ewa Wycichowska).

Already in the early days of his career, while in Oslo, he developed his first choreographic works and continued his choreographic path after returning to Poland in 1997. He choreographed: Aria from Goldberg Variations (music: Jan Sebastian Bach) Oslo 1996, Passagcalia (music: Jan Sebastian Bach) Gdansk 1998, Postcards from lifetime (music: Tom Waits) Gdansk 1998, Death and the Maiden (music: Franz  Schubert) Warsaw 1998, Once in a Lifetime (co-choreographed with Elwira Piorun) Warsaw 2001, La spectre de la rose (music: Hector Berlioz), Pas dun (music: Georg Friedrich Händel), Farewell (music: Giuseppe Verdi). He also created choreography to such performances as: Cats the cats miausical, performed by children and premiered in Teatr Guliwer in Warsaw; Verdis Requiem that commemorated the 2nd anniversary of the World Trade Centre tragedy and Requiem for Hollow Men, both staged at the The Młynarski Hall (also known as the Chamber Music Hall) of Teatr Wielki Polish National Opera. In 2011 he also worked as guest choreographer for Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz where he choreographed The Midsummer Nights Dream.

Since the end of 1980s. he has also been very active as a pedagogue. He was a teacher of the ballet schools in Lodz and Warsaw. Currently he works as a teacher of classical and contemporary dance with professional and amateur groups in Poland and abroad, teaching workshops and dance projects. In 2007, together with Zbigniew Czapski, he founded Centre of Contemporary Dance Foundation.

He has also featured in film and theatre productions. Among them we should mention such works as: Krzysztof Zanussi’s Supplement and And A Warm Heart, and Television Theatre productions: Casting (dir. Krzysztof Zanussi) and The Game of Chance and Love (dir. Gustaw Holoubek).

In 2001 he was granted an artistic scholarship of the Polish Ministry of Culture and Cultural Heritage. His cooperation with the Castle Opera in Szczecin has begun in 2002.

He is also a manager with more than a dozen years of experience in running cultural institutions and artistic and educational projects. Between 2007 and 2012, he co-managed the “Center for Contemporary Dance” Foundation in Warsaw. From 2010 to 2012, he worked as a dancer career transition specialist at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw. From 2012 to 2019, he served as the head of the Ballet of the Castle Opera in Szczecin. He is a recipient of the bronze medal “Gloria Artis.”

In 2022, Karol Urbański was appointed Deputy Director in charge of the Department of Dance at the National Institute of Music and Dance.

Karol Urbański
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