Dancer, choreographer, stage director, pedagogue, librettist
Libor Vaculík set out on his path towards ballet glory at the age of nine, when following basic figure-skating training he enrolled at the CzechNationalBalletPreparatory School in Prague. An evident talent, he subsequently attended the Prague Dance Conservatory, where he studied in the class of Prof. Zdeněk Doležal and graduated in 1977.
He received his first engagement in the very same year, joining the Ballet of the Slovak National Theatre in Bratislava, where he soon became the company’s star and was entrusted with classical repertoire roles (the Princes in Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella, Albert in Giselle), as well as dramatic roles (Franz in Coppélia, Quasimodo in Notre Dame de Paris, Spartacus and Harmodius in Spartacus, Colas in Weary in Vain, Don José in Carmen, Ferchad in The Legend of Love, Vronsky in Anna Karenina). He represented the former Czechoslovakia to great acclaim at international competitions, bringing back bronze medals (Varna, Jackson and Osaka), while he regularly participated in and frequently won the national performance and choreography contest. He was afforded the opportunity for short-term study stays at the Palucca Schule in Dresden and in 1980 at the Dance Academy de M. Bezobrazova in Monte Carlo. He also gave numerous guest appearances at home (Brno, Košice, Prague) and abroad (Barcelona, Bonn, Nancy, Vienna, San Antonio).
Libor Vaculík cut short his career as a dancer – perhaps rather prematurely – by taking the decision to fully devote to choreography and ballet stage direction, the subject he had actually studied at the University of Performing Arts in Bratislava from 1987 to 1991. His experience as a dancer and conviction that dance is able to express emotions as well as complex human relationships led him to create choreographies treating the themes of great dramas and fates (Little Mr. Friedemann /Psycho, La Dame aux camélias, Lucrezia Borgia, Ivan the Terrible, Mary Stuart, Tchaikovsky, Isadora Duncan, Total Eclipse, Joan of Arc, Notre Dame de Paris, Anna Karenina, Faust, etc.). Perhaps the most frequently performed of his works is Edith – The Little Sparrow from the Suburbs (Plzeň, Prague, Brno, Olomouc, Ústí nad Labem), in which his libretto, choreography and stage direction gave rise to a prototype of a dance-dramatic performance whose musical-vocal and dance parts work in perfect equilibrium and harmonic symbiosis. Highly acclaimed too were his choreographies of Romeo and Juliet, Coppélia, Mowgli – The Tale of Mother Jungle, Dream of a Magic Flute, The Minotaur, The Rite of Spring, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Countess of Bathory, Queen Margot, The Phantom of the Opera, etc.
For the contemporary dance world, Libor Vaculík is considered the bearer – and in many respects pioneer – of new dance and dramatic approaches for whose pursuit he has managed to choose outstanding and singular directors and set designers. And vice versa, as a choreographer, he has been invited to work on productions of operas, operettas and plays, as well as television productions. He launched this type of collaboration back in 1987 with the choreography Walpurgis Night in Gounod’s opera Faust at the National Theatre in Brno. Another significant chapter is his co-operation with the late Slovak stage director Jozef Bednárik in the domain of musicals (The Gospel of Mary, Grand Hotel, Blood Brothers, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat) and opera (Faust, Don Quixote, Don Carlos, Romeo and Juliet, Carmen).
Of late, Libor Vaculík has been frequently invited to work on musicals (Mona Lisa, Mydlář the Executioner, Lucrezia Borgia). Some of his creations have been repeatedly revived or taken over for productions by other theatres, a case in point being The Three Musketeers at the New Stage in Bratislava following its Prague premiere.
Photo: Roman Sejkot