Choreographer, teacher, and dancer Růžena Mazalová has passed away
On 13 March 2019, Růžena Mazalová, a prominent Czech choreographer, ballet master, pedagogue, and dancer, died at the respectable age of ninety-three.
We are attaching Daniel Wiesner’s personal reminiscence of this remarkable lady, dedicated to her oh her 90th birthday.
It is incredible that the vivacious, energetic lady, Professor Růžena Mazalová, is celebrating her 90th anniversary! In my memories, I am wandering back to the late 1950s when I saw her for the first time. As a ten-year-old and a member of the National Theatre ballet preparatory school I got a chance to perform in Smetana Theatre and dance on a real stage for the first time in my life. With my partner Aneta Voleská (the later soloist of the National Theatre Ballet) we were in a children’s dance in the final scene of a full-length ballet. It was Škvor’s ballet Doctor Faustus choreographed by Jiří Blažek – the then husband of the National Theatre Ballet’s soloist Růžena Mazalová. For me this ballet meant the first contact with the real theatre world because we would arrive in the theatre at 6 pm and leave around 9, full of memorable experiences.
Bewitched, I was discovering the dressing rooms and costumes prepared for the show, ballet studios with mirrors and dancers doing their warm-up, mysterious scent of theatre make-up that could transform ordinary people into devils or green-haired fairies in a minute. This magical world went on under the stage, where musicians in tailcoats and bow ties would enter the orchestra pit and where a revolving stage system with traps was hidden. But I have skipped the most important thing – the view from the proscenium (the fireman’s seat) where I would stand in the wings and admire the brightly lit stage, on which the dramatic story of Faust was unfolding inside the scenography and costumes by Zdenek Seydl. And now I am getting to a character whose stage presence, mimics and unique dance performance fascinated me most – it was Mefistofela, embodied by Růžena Mazalová, with her partner Satan, the demonic Otto Šanda. The way Mafistofela controls and influences the acts of Faustus – impersonated by Jiří Blažek – remains un unforgettable artistic experience and it evidences the suggestiveness of dance theatre. In the years 1969-1975, Ms Růžena Mazalová was engaged as a choreographer with Erich Walter’s company in Düsseldorf. She made an excellent assistant for this outstanding German choreographer, especially when he was staging Swan Lake.
I remember how compelled we were when she was explaining to us the professional difference in understanding dance theatre in our country and in Germany. At that time, I was studying choreography at the Academy of Performing Arts and I absorbed intensely every authentic perception of any professional in my field. Nowadays, there are no boundaries in the world – but under communism, it was very different. To gain any professional experience from abroad was extremely valuable for me. In conclusion, I would like to wish Ms Růžena Mazalová plenty of health, joy and harmony the years to come. Her approach to dance art has made her a legendary figure of the ballet world.