Artistic director of Laterna magika, dancer, choreographer, pedagogue
Zdeněk Prokeš is a graduate of the Dance Department of Prague’s Conservatory. His first engagement as a dancer was at the Karlín Music Theatre (1971-79). He studied choreography at the Dance Department of Prague’s Academy of Performing Arts with Jiří Němeček (1975-79) and subsequently worked as a choreographer at the State Theatre in Ostrava (1979-83). He took up several residencies abroad; for example, in Poland at the Teater Tanca with the choreographer Conrad Drzewiecki (1980), in Belgium with Maurice Béjart and at the Royal Ballet of Flanders in Antwerp (1982). He also participated in a number of national and international ballet competitions (Moscow, Varna, Jackson, Helsinki, Osaka). His choreographies earned him several awards at national competitions (1977, 1979, 1981, 1984, 1987). As a choreographer and concurrently chief of ballet he worked at the Karlín Music Theatre (1983-90) and the National Theatre in Brno (1991-2004). From 2003 to 2007 he was the director of Brno’s premier stage. Since November 2007 has was an adviser to the Director of Prague’s National Theatre and in 2010, when Laterna magika company was re-incorporated into the structure of the National Theatre, he became artistic director of the company. From 1994 to 2011 he has also taught choreography and ballet dramaturgy at the Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Brno; between 1995 and 2006 he was a pedagogue at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He has created some 140 choreographies for ballets, operas, operettas, musicals and dramas for theatres both in the Czech Republic and abroad. His productions encompass all genres – from abstract through comic to dramatic ballets, from short and chamber to full-length titles. He has often staged works by contemporary, primarily Czech, composers.
His most significant choreographies include, for example, Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet (National Theatre in Brno, 1996), The Story of Tristan and Isolde to music by Jarmil Burghauser (National Theatre in Brno, 1995), the ballet Ox on the Roof to Darius Milhaud’s music (Theatre in Pilsen, 1995), The Trojan Women with music by Karel Husa (within the Moravian Autumn International Music Festival 1995 and at the National Theatre in Brno, 1997), Battalion by the composer Jan F. Fischer (National Theatre in Brno, 1997), The Wizard of Oz to Zbyněk Matějů’s music (National Theatre in Brno, 1999), John Lanchbery’s ballet adaptation of Lehár’s operetta The Merry Widow (National Theatre in Brno, 2000), Partita to Vítězslava Kaprálová’s music (National Theatre in Brno, 2004), Ravel’s Pavane for a Dead Infanta (National Theatre in Brno, 2006), Bolero (National Theatre in Brno, 2006, Pilsen 2013), La valse (Pilsen 2013) and many others.
He has created several dozen choreographies for operas, operettas and musicals in Prague, Brno, Ostrava, Pilsen, Olomouc, Opava, Ústí nad Labem, as well as for the Opern Air festivals in Austria and Germany (Offenbach: Tales of Hoffmann, 1993; Verdi: Nabucco, 1995; Aida, 1998) and Opera Monte Carlo in Monaco (Smetana: The Bartered Bride, 1999). Zdeněk Prokeš has been frequently invited to sit on specialist juries, executive councils, advisory boards and committees (for example, the Thalia Theatre Award, the Committee of the Association of Professional Theatres, the Council of the Czech I.T.I. Centre, the Grant Committee of the Ministry of Culture, etc.). He is a founder and was a chairman for many years of the Dance Association of the Czech Republic. He has also organised dance festivals and shows; for instance, the Brno Dance festival or International Ballet Competition in Brno and Prague.