Michal Štípa as the MTO ballet director to be replaced by the soloist of the NT in Brno and two Thalia awards winner Jan Fousek

 

Michal Štípa is going to quit his job as a ballet artistic director after three years. He announced his decision at the beginning of the current season, yet he will stage the planned premiere of Louskáček – Vánoční příběh (The Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol). The former soloist of the National Theatre Ballet in Prague will be succeeded by the longtime soloist of the National Theatre in Brno, two Thalia Awards winner and teacher Jan Fousek.

Michal Štípa as the MTO ballet director to be replaced by the soloist of the NT in Brno and two Thalia awards winner Jan Fousek

Michal Štípa as the MTO ballet director to be replaced by the soloist of the NT in Brno and two Thalia awards winner Jan Fousek

The theatre management and Michal Štípa, who has been working in Olomouc since January 2019, agreed to end the contract at the beginning of the current season. “I have regular discussions with all artistic directors in which we analyze our visions, feelings, and the fact whether we see the orientation of the company and theatre the same. At a similar meeting at the beginning of the season, I and Michal Štípa agreed to end our cooperation at the end of the season 2021/2022. However, Michal suddenly announced he wanted to quit at the end of this year. This is a minor complication for us, but we believe that his successor will be able to deal with it. I truly appreciate the work Michal has done as a director and I hope he will continue to do so until the end of the year. The important factor for the theatre, Michal and me is to fully concentrate on the premiere of The Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol with Michal’s choreography in November. I understand how complicated it must have been for him to leave Prague and the career of the first soloist of the National Theatre and get down to being the director of the company and dealing with everyday problems in the ballet operation in Olomouc. Such a step is naturally associated with many changes. I truly appreciate how he artistically improvement the company and enhance the prestige within the theatre network,” said David Gerneš, the director of the Moravian Theatre.

The director chose the new artistic director in a closed tender. “I spoke with a few candidates and discussed their concepts and visions. Jan Fousek, the outstanding figure of Czech ballet and teacher with international experience, seemed to be most eligible. He knows our theatre and company very well as he was the ballet master in the successful production of Giselle. We expect he would be able to follow the improving quality of the company and continue in the development of ballet and dancers in all aspects,” said Gerneš.

After graduating from the Dance Conservatory in Brno in 2002, Jan Fousek became a member of the ballet company of the National Theatre in Brno. He was appointed the soloist two years later and worked in the National Theatre until 2017. He has had main roles in classic and modern ballets, such as Louskáček (The Nutcracker)Labutí jezero (The Swan Lake)Romeo a Julie (Romeo and Juliet)Spartakus and Úplné zatmění (Total Eclipse). He received the Thalia Awards for his performance in Svěcení jara (The Rite of Spring) and Nebezpečné známosti (Dangerous Liaisons). From 2003 to 2008, he studied Dance Teaching at JAMU in Brno. He has been teaching at the Dance Conservatory in Brno since 2011 and he has had guest lectures in Costa Rica, South Korea, and Brazil.

“I must say I was very glad I received the offer from the Moravian Theatre management. I submitted the concept Mr. Gerneš was interested in, we had a few discussions in which we clarified our visions and made a mutual decision to cooperate. I appreciate the trust the director has in me. I understand it as a logical consequence of my professional career. It is a step forward and in the dark, so I accept this job with great respect and humility,” said Fousek. His priority is to stabilize the company. “Every change is associated with uneasiness, nervousness, uncertainty, and these are the factors that can negatively influence the operation of the whole company. It is now in excellent shape, dancers are technically equipped and I have noticed a great leap forward, so there is no reason to perform radical changes. I would like to keep the balance in the repertoire between classic and contemporary works. My main goal is to stage story ballets in which the company has the opportunity to develop in terms of technique and performance. I advocate for every dancer to be a great actor as well. I would like to have a company full of big figures in the future. I would like to restrict the fluctuation of dancers in the company by having a creative and friendly atmosphere which is necessary for the dancers to feel fine in the company,” said the dancer and teacher.

One of the important points in the concept of the future artistic director is the cooperation with the Dance Conservatory in Brno. “I agree with the opinion that it has been hard to deal with the competition coming to the auditions from all around the world. Yet I do not fully agree with the opinion that the mistake is in the bad education system. I am convinced that many teachers are open to changes, new systems, and requirements, but the problem lies in the fact that only few people are interested in studying this discipline. Anyway, I will try to create joint projects which, I hope, will develop students’ talents and sparkle the interest in working in our company in the future,” said Fousek.

The current artistic director Michal Štípa is preparing the epic production of Louskáček – Kouzelný příběh (The Nutcracker – A Christmas Carol), which will premiere on 5 November. Another ballet premiere will take place in April next year: Canadian choreographer and director Paul Chalmer will stage the adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Obraz Doriana Graye (The Picture of Dorian Gray). Jan Fousek will work with the theatre management and ballet company in the upcoming weeks, dealing with the preparations of the dramaturgic plan for the seasons to come.

Source: Moravian Theatre Olomouc

 

Translation: Eliška Špilarová

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