Long-term soloist of the Grand Theatre in Poznań, member of the Wrocław Pantomime Theatre and the Polish Dance Theatre. He has danced on stages in Karslruhe and Berlin and devised scenic movement for plays by such noted Polish directors as Krzysztof Warlikowski, Maja Kleczewska, Michał Borczuch and Grzegorz Jarzyna.
Dancer, choreographer and director of movement in operatic and dramatic plays.
Mikołaj Mikołajczyk graduated from the State Ballet School in Poznań, and he studied sociology and history at Adam Mickiewicz University. He learned about various dance styles and ways of thinking about the creation of motion and artistic spaces from the best – he gained experience under the eyes of, amongst others, the legendary Swedish choreographer Mats Ek.
Mikołajczyk also worked with Henryk Tomaszewski at the Wrocław Pantomime Theatre and with Ewa Wycichowska and Emil Wesołowski at the Polish Dance Theatre in Poznań. For many years Mikołajczyk was a soloist at the Grand Theatre in Poznań and Badisches Saatstheatter in Karlsruhe. In his artistic career he has climbed many steps: he went from being a student to the first soloist of a ballet. He has dozens of roles under his belt, some which have become important to the history of Polish classical dance. He played in, amongst others, Giselle, Jezioro Łabędzie (The Swan Lake), Popołudnie Fauna (Faun’s Afternoon), Cudowny Mandaryn (Wonderful Mandarin). In the Szczecin Opera in the Castle he was the director of the ballet, which he transformed into the authorial dance theatre Teatr DNA – genetically encoded dance.
In the Rhythm of the Baroque
Emotions are of utmost importance to me, they influence the search for motion. Music is very important as well, especially classical, baroque music: Richard Wagner, Henry Purcell. Baroque pulsates in the rhythm of the heart and constitutes a starting point of what might happen on stage in a moment. This is my reason not to ignore tradition – said Mikołajczyk in an interview.
In 2003 he suffered a serious injury which made it impossible for him to be active as a ballet dancer. Following this occurrence, Mikołajczyk became involved with the Old Brewery in Poznań. There, after a long hiatus, he realised a celebrated, moving dance triptych consisting of Waiting, Z tobą chcę oglądać świat (I Want to Look at the World with You) and Plaisir d’amour, which was warmly received by critics and audiences. The triptych was a work in progress for six years and it is a kind of dance autobiography which uses dance imperfections as part of the performance. Was the renewed attention and awe of the audience worth waiting for?
Dancing is life to me. I’m not skilled in anything else. I was litigating with the theatre for eight months and at that time I was feeling depressed and reluctant to live. After this period I came up with an idea. I decided to dance in view of my injured leg, on my injured leg and for my injured leg. I wanted to show that dancing isn’t only for the young, healthy, strong, ready and tenacious. I wanted to point out that it is also for those who feel the urge to express something meaningful in its language. I created the play Waiting, which is simply about waiting. An injured leg, an unwanted artist, an audience that arrives and waits for a performance and an artist, who is also waiting – said the choreographer in a conversation with Dorota Wodecka.
From a dim, small, empty stage, Mikołajczyk tells the audience about himself, about the path that led him to dancing, the longing for the stage, the fight to regain his health. He plays himself, the naked body is the only costume used in the spectacle. “I don’t undress in order to be admired, but to be loved as an artist, who isn’t afraid to tell about himself and his life. There is nothing to hide here. I’m afraid that the critics are helpless in such situations. At present I sympathise with writers of theatrical reviews" – Mikołajczyk told Stefan Drajewski of Głos Wielkopolski.
Jadwiga Majewska commented on the foregoing statement: Waiting, the first choreography Mikołajczyk ever prepared, was devised independently. Mikołajczyk the choreographer showed Mikołajczyk the dancer as a lone rebel, an uncompromising individualist, who fights against classical traditions and the affection that he has for them. An autobiographical tale about the birth of a dancer, about becoming a dancer, about an individual and the “I” born in pain. The play Z tobą chcę oglądać świat is more private. This ironic-oneiric story tells about the dancer’s consciously chosen solitude and the ability to transform everydayness into uniqueness, trivialities into greatness and narcissism into universality. This is a homage paid to one’s own intimacy. This is a specific way of “thanking someone for his or her collaboration”. That someone was always close, the author could have loved that someone as much as the author loves himself.
Critics deemed Waiting one of the most important displays of dance of the past few years. The piece was presented at the Polish Dance Platform, at the Lublin Maat Festival and at the Warsaw Theatrical Meetings.
After seeing the triptych I became convinced that sometimes there is a point in waiting many years for a play. Numerous viewers grew impatient during this many-hours-long show, especially in the bothersome technical breaks. However, the people in the audience reacted interestingly when, during one of the later parts of the play, they saw themselves in a recording made just after the performance of the first part of the triptych. The viewers observed with disbelief as they answered the out of context question asked during the first break with the words: yes it is worth waiting for. The contrast between their initial enthusiasm and the tiredness that befell them later was strong – Anna Królica stated in a review for the portal taniecpolska.pl.
“I Will Keep on Dancing Even When I’m Eighty”
The dance performance with elements of documentary theatre Teraz jest czas, which was directed and choreographed by Mikołajczyk, premiered in September 2012. The show featured the participation of the Wrzos choir, which is involved with the “Dom Polski” Cultural Centre in Zakrzewo. The aforementioned performance was the first premiere realised in the framework of the social-artistic project Wielkopolska: rewolucje, which is curated by Agata Siwiak and was nominated for the Passport award granted by the weekly Polityka magazine.
Mikołajczyk said the following of the performance: "I will keep on dancing even when I’m eighty. Dancing isn’t only about technical skills or stamina. I could very well dance using my fingers only, provided I would create a concept that would draw the viewers’ attention to them. You don’t have to jump half a meter above the ground in order to dance”.
A year after Teraz jest czas premiered, the second instalment of this revolutionary project was shown for the first time. Mikołajczyk and the seniors from Zakrzewo prepared a play-performance entitled Noce i dnie (Days and Nights) which was inspired by Maria Dąbrowska’s novel of the same name. This piece attracted much attention all over Poland. The show was created in collaboration with Małgorzata Dziewulska, the scenographer and video artist; and Mirek Kaczmarek, the composer; as well as Zbigniew Kozub, Iwona Pasińska and Adam Ferency. The literary story about the Wielkopolska region inspired the creators of the play to ask questions about life stories and about fulfilment and unfulfilment in life.
December also saw the premiere of Mikołajczyk’s solo choreography Projekt Lutosławski… jesteś kimś, kogo kiedyś znałem (Lutosławski Project… You’re Somebody that I Used to Know). Mikołajczyk has also devised scenic movement for many performances including Lulu, which was staged at the National Old Theatre in Kraków, Wieczór (Evening) by Michał Borczuch, Marat-Sade by Maja Kleczewska and Odyseja (Odyssey) by Krzysztof Garbaczewski.
Sources: taniecpolska.pl, Didaskalia, Głos Wielkopolski, Gazeta Wyborcza, mikolaj-mikolajczyk.pl, edited by: AL, January 2014r.
Translated by: Marek Kępa