People of dance

Przemysław Śliwa

  • dancer
  • choreographer
  • pedagogue
Zdjęcie: Przemysław Śliwa

Na zdjęciu: Przemysław Śliwa. Fotografia: Studio Foto Kocewiak

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Przemysław Śliwa is a dance soloist, choreographer, director of balet companies, and educator.

In 1963, he graduated from the State Ballet School in Warsaw, in the class of Aleksander Sobol. That same year, Conrad Drzewiecki, who was the choreographer and artistic director of the Poznań Opera House ballet company at the time, engaged Śliwa as a soloist.

Śliwa made his debut with as the Soldier in Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Soldier’s Tale, directed by Krystyna Meissner and choreographed by Conrad Drzewiecki. During his ten years at the Poznań Opera House, Śliwa was cast as the Soloist in Fryderyk Chopin’s Les Sylphides, Albert in Adolphe Adam’s Giselle, Romeo in Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Witold Borkowski, Siegfried in Swan Lake, the Groom in Karol Szymanowski’s Harnasie choreographed by Eugeniusz Paplinski, Ivan in The Firebird and Othello in Improvisations to Shakespeare – both choreographed by Conrad Drzewiecki – and many others.

In 1969, Śliwa made his choreographic debut with the ballet Romeo and Juliet to the music of Sergei Prokofiev, produced as part of the Jeunesses Musicales de Pologne ballet company’s performances.

Śliwa’s performing breakthrough came with the title role in The Miraculous Mandarin to music by Béla Bartók, and choreographed by Conrad Drzewiecki. The decade-long cooperation with Conrad Drzewiecki at the Poznań Opera House found its artistic continuation at the Polish Dance Theatre and Śliwa’s promotion to the position of first soloist. His roles with the company included  Don Juan in Epitaph for Don Juan, Soloist in Modus Vivendi and Rejent in The Sarmatian Parable. During his stints with the Poznań Opera House and the Polish Dance Theatre, Śliwa made a number of international appearances abroad, among others in Italy, Germany, Hungary and Scandinavia. He also participated in Conrad Drzewiecki’s televised ballet productions, where he distinguished himself as a soloist in the ballet Tema con variazioni to the music of Jerzy Milian (1971). In recognition of his services, he was awarded the Honorary Badge of the City of Poznań in March 1974.

In 1976, Danuta Baduszkova appointed Przemyslaw Śliwa first dancer and choreographer at the Musical Theatre in Gdynia. Two years later, he was named manager of the Musical Theatre’s ballet company. His productions there included: The Soldier’s Tale, a ballet version of Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow, and The Twins of Venice set to selected Rossini overtures. At the same time, he launched choreographic collaborations with dramatic theaters, including the Wybrzeze Theatre in Gdańsk headed by Stanisław Hebanowski.

Starting in 1982, Śliwa served as ballet director and choreographer at the Bydgoszcz Opera Hou, where he produced such productions as Ludomir Różycki’s Mr. Twardowski, The Bell Jar of Notre Dame set to music by Cesare Pugni, Claude Debussy’s The Toy-Box, Edvard Grieg’s Peer Gynt, Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet. His productions of Mr. Twardowski and The Bell Jar of Notre Dame were awarded the Golden Mask prize. In 1986, he received the Badge of Merit for his services to the Bydgoszcz Voivodeship. In 1988, he was awarded the Silver Cross of Merit and received the Award and Honorable Mention of the Voivode of Bydgoszcz for his staging of the ballet Romeo and Juliet. At that time, he also worked with drama theaters in Bydgoszcz, Toruń and Słupsk.

In 1992, Śliwa began his collaboration with the ballet of the Cracow Opera House, where he was named ballet director. While working at the company, he developed eight ballet productions including: Carmen; original versions of The Miraculous Mandarin, The Eternal Songs, Medea and Servant of Two Masters (to the music of various Rossini overtures).

In 1994, Śliwa initiated the Cracow Ballet Art Foundation to help organize an international ballet festival titled the Cracow Ballet Spring. There were a total of twelve editions of this festival, which featured leading European ballet companies, among others the Boris Ejfman Ballet, Teatro alla Scala ballet company, Kibbutz Contemporary Dance Company, Cullberg Ballet, Compagnie Maguy Marin, Ballet Preljocaj, Grand Théâtre de Genève ballet company, Complexions Contemporary Ballet, and the Nederlands Dans Theater.

In 2005, Przemysław Śliwa was awarded the Golden Cross of Merit.

In the course of his career, Śliwa has produced 20 ballet performances. He has choreographed five operettas, four musicals, six operas, while also developing stage movement in more than 120 dramatic productions. He was also actively involved with various Polish Television branches. For many years, he was a dance lecturer at the Ludwik Solski State Theater School in Cracow. Since the 1970s, he has been a member of the Society of Authors and Stage Composers (ZAiKS).

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