Soloist, Choreographer, Artistic Director of the Czech National Ballet in Prague
Petr Zuska is a European-format creator, an eminent choreographer within the context of Czech dance who has worked with world-renowned ballet companies. He has profiled himself as an audacious figure characterised by a wide choreographic outreach and mature artistic approach. As a dancer, he was always a dynamic performer, a character interpreter possessing an extraordinary sensibility for the choreographer’s intention, capable of embracing contemporary movement phraseologies.
A representative of the contemporary middle generation of choreographers, in his works he brings to bear a broad scale of creative vocabulary, ranging from the high bel canto of the neo-classical style through an innovative approach to modern creation to an integrated rendition of epic ballet. His productions are sophisticated, full-blooded, reflecting the world of symbols and archetypes, spiritual questions, as well as moral principles.
Petr Zuska studied choreography and stage direction at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, graduating in 1994. A significant phase in his career was his engagement at the Prague Chamber Ballet (1989–1992 soloist; from 1994 guest artist). Between 1992 and 1998 he was a soloist of the Czech National Ballet in Prague. In 1998 he was engaged by the Munich Ballet, and in 1999 he joined the ballet company of the Augsburg Theatre. In 2000 he was named a soloist of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montréal.
Throughout his career as a dancer, he performed in classical ballets, yet he primarily appeared in works by renowned contemporary Czech creators, including Jiří Kylián, Pavel Šmok and Libor Vaculík, as well as foreign choreographers, such as Alvin Ailey, Gerhard Bohner, Robert North, Mats Ek, Hans van Manen, Christopher Bruce, Ohad Naharin and Nacho Duato.
Since 2002, Petr Zuska has been Artistic Director of the Czech National Ballet in Prague. In addition to creating his own choreographies, until recently he appeared in numerous solo roles of the contemporary dance repertoire.
Since 1990, Petr Zuska has created choreographies for more than 50 productions for both foreign and Czech companies, including the Hamburg Ballett, Ballett Augsburg, the Semperoper in Dresden, the Latvian National Opera in Riga, the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, the Royal Danish Ballet, the Ballett Deutsche Oper am Rhein, the West Australian Ballet in Perth, the Finnish National Ballet, Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo, the Boston Ballet, the Czech National Ballet in Prague and the National Theatre Ballet in Brno, Laterna magika, the Prague Chamber Ballet and Bohemia Ballet – the ensemble of the Prague Dance Conservatory.
The choreographies Petr Zuska has created for the Czech National Ballet include Among the Mountains (2002); Ways 03 (2003); Maria’s Dream, within the mixed bill Ballet Mania (2005); the feature-length Ibbur, or A Prague Mystery (2005); Requiem, based on Mozart (2006); the feature-length BREL – VYSOTSKY – KRYL / Solo for Three (2007); Extreme and A Little Touch of the Last Extreme (2009); Romeo and Juliet (2013) and Stabat mater (2014); the shorter choreographies Déja vu, The Lyrical, Empty Title, Way Out and Oh Love, which have been frequently performed within Czech and international gala evenings.
Stages worldwide have also performed other works of his: Triple Self, Clear Invisible, The Last Photo…?, Les bras de mer, A Little Extreme, Le Sacre du printemps, and Bolero, to Maurice Ravel’s music, etc.
In 2011, Petr Zuska’s choreography Death and the Maiden was given its world premiere by Les Ballets de Monte-Carlo; in 2014 the Boston Ballet performed his work D.M.J. 1953–1977.
The numerous prestigious awards he has received for his performances and choreographies include the Thalia Prize (1993 and 1997), the Prix Dom Perignon (1999), the Original Choreography prize within the Modern Dance Competition, the Choreography of the Year, the Czech Literary Fund and Opera Plus Prizes, and other accolades.