Choreographer and artistic director of The Czech National Ballet in Prague
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 1998 he was engaged by the Munich Ballet, headed by Philip Taylor. In 1999 he joined the ballet company of the Augsburg Theatre, where he worked with the German choreographer Jochen Heckmann. In 2000 he was named a soloist of Les Grands Ballets Canadiens in Montreal.
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.
Throughout his career as a dancer, he performed in classical ballet works (Swan Lake, Don Quixote, Cinderella and The Nutcracker), as well as choreographies by Alvin Ailey, Jiří Kylián, Mats Ek, Nacho Duato, Ohad Naharin, Gerhard Bohner, Robert North, Itzik Galili, Pavel Šmok, Libor Vaculík, Jan Kodet, Didy Veldman, Christopher Bruce and others. His dance performances have earned him a number of prestigious accolades, including two Thalia Awards (the highest Czech theatre prize).
Since 1990, Petr Zuska has created choreographies for more than fifty 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, to Arvo Pärt’s music (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); 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.
In 2014 the National Theatre in Prague hosted the premiere of Zuska’s new choreography Stabat mater, to Antonín Dvořák’s music within the production Czech Ballet Symphony II. 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, Symphony No. 1 in D major, to Gustav Mahler’s music, and Bolero, to Maurice Ravel’’s music, etc. In 2011, Petr Zuska’s choreography Death and the Maiden, to Franz Schubert’s music, 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 awards he has received for his choreographies include the Prix Dom Perignon, the Original Choreography prize within the Modern Dance Competition, the Best Choreography of the Year, etc.
Petr Zuska bid farewell to his active dance career in January 2014 on the stage of the National Theatre in Prague, performing the role of Aleksei Karenin in the ballet Anna Karenina.