LNOBT’s Ballet Premiere: What do We Know About Čiurlionis?

Together with the first thunder of the spring Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre concluded its celebratory Week of Richard Wagner - last Friday we showed our newest opera premiere "Lohengrin". After such grand event we are now intensively preparing for new production of ballet: on 24, 25 and 26 of May the main stage of the LNOBT shall welcome G. Kuprevičius' ballet "ČIURLIONIS". This modern spectacle is currently being created by a team of young artists from "Teatr Wielki" in Warsaw, with choreographer Robert Bondara as their leader. 

We all know that Mikalojus Konstantinas ČIURLIONIS is a cult figure of Lithuanian music and painting. However, what is really known of him as a human being? His short life (1875 - 1911) was dramatic: the artist was constantly tormented by poverty, tried to find recognition and space for his creativity in Vilnius, St. Petersburg, Warsaw, was longing for love and finally defeated by untimely death...   

"No one knows what dramas were raging in Mikalojus Konstantinas ČIURLIONIS’ soul, what images and sounds agitated his imagination," - says Giedrius Kuprevičius, one of the most versatile composers in Lithuania. "ČIURLIONIS" is his 19th work for the stage and the first one to be produced at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre in Vilnius. 

"ČIURLIONIS" is produced by a young Polish choreographer Robert Bondara, who invited his team from "Teatr Wielki" to work together with him in Vilnius. G. Kuprevičius claims: "I had a very strong wish to invite some foreign master of ballet – I wanted to see a fresh point of view and an unexpected, different opinion about ČIURLIONIS as a creator and a personality." According to him, this ballet isn't going to work as an autobiography. "I’ve put main dramatic accents on the four loves of ČIURLIONIS: Marija, Bronislava, Sofija and Creativity." In R. Bondara‘s opinion, "It is impossible to capture the whole life of one person and place it in a form of a performance in two acts – it will never be comprehensive, adequate or satisfactory. However, the language of dance allows one to express without words something that is otherwise intangible."

Robert Bondara is a dancer, choreographer, teacher and an artist of the Polish National Ballet. He graduated from the Feliks Parnell State Ballet School in Łódź (2002). He first performed at the local Music Theatre and then moved to the Grand Theatre in Poznań. In September 2005 he joined the Ballet of the Polish National Opera, currently the Polish National Ballet. He is also a graduate of the Frederic Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, with which he now cooperates as a teacher.

In 2008 he won the 2nd prize (no 1st prize was awarded) and the special prize of the Witold Lutoslawski Society at the Bronislava Nijinska National Choreography Competition in Warsaw, for the duet "Andante con moto" to the music from Wojciech Kilar's Piano Concert. The awarded choreography was then presented during the Polish-Russian Ballet Gala at the Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. In the same year he started cooperating with Aleksandra Dziurosz's Warsaw Dance Theatre. R. Bondara took part in the Polish National Ballet's 1st Choreography Workshop (2009), preparing the ballet When You End and I Begin... to the music by Paweł Szymański. This work was later included in the chamber repertoire of the company and was successfully presented during guest performances in Bergen, Norway (2010) and as part of the festival in Kuopio, Finland (2012). In March 2010 during the 2nd Choreography Workshop he attracted the audience’s attention with another short piece The Garden’s Gates to the music by Szábolcs Esztényi. His works were presented at the Polish Dance Competition in Gdańsk, the International Gala of Ballet Stars in Szczecin, the 43rd International Dance Festival in Kuopio, and in the programmes of the 2nd and 3rd Days of Dance at the Polish National Opera.

In 2011 he was a guest at the Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz where he staged his original ballet "The Captive Mind" inspired by the book by Czesław Miłosz to the music by Philip Glass and Wojciech Kilar. In the same year he created his next original performance "Persona" to the music of Aldona Nawrocka, Arvo Pärt and Paweł Szymański. He also received Jan Kiepura Award in the category Choreographer of the Year 2011 in Poland. In May 2012, as part of the 4th Choreography Workshop, he staged his next work called 8m68 to the music by Amon Tobin, and his "Captive Mind" performed by the dance company from Bydgoszcz has been included in the programme of the 4th Days of Dance at the Polish National Opera, taking place in the autumn of 2012.

R. Bondara is not only supplying ideas and choreography for his productions, but is also often creating the visual side of his spectacles as the author of costume, light and set designs.

R. Bondara’s creative colleagues for "ČIURLIONIS" include set and costume designers Diana Marszalek and Julka Skrzynecka, lighting designer Maciek Igielski, video designer Ewa Krasucka. The music director and conductor of the production in Robertas Šervenikas.  

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