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                   Reviews:


 


Petr Zahradnicek knows the dancers' abilities well from six years of dancing with them.  Autumn Leaves, premiered in this concert, is the most perfect of his choreographic works that I've had the honor to see.  As music, he chose the French composer Gabriel Faure's "Songs for Voice and Piano."  The warm beauty of the songs is grounded in sadness.  Pianist Steven Ayers with singers Erica Schuller, Kristen DiNinno, Matthew Richardson and Dan Richardson, also known as the Florentine Opera Studio Artists, performed the songs live with skill and sincerity, a perfect complement to the dancers above and behind them.


Dancer Nicole Teague was a magnificent MC and force of nature whose touch changed the seasons and brought romance, hope, sorrow and healing, as the seasons do.  Raven Wales and David Hovhannisyan danced with abandon as lovers ultimately separated by death, intensely personal and forceful in what might have been generically romantic roles.  Susan Gartell, Rachel Malehorn, Justin Genna and Alexandre Ferreira were excellent as their community of friends.


© MIlwaukee  Express by John Schneider  | Thursday 2/23/2012




Petr Zahradnicek’s Autumn Leaves was the most unabashedly romantic. In fact, it was defiantly old-fashioned. A meditation on “seasons and change,” it was like a Pre-Raphaelite painting come to life, complete with frolicking couples and a Cupid-like nymph/lovebird that oversees the change of seasons and channels the romantic desires. Nicole Teague danced this role with delicacy and charm, and the central couple—David Hovhannisyan and Raven Wales—were fully committed to Zahradnicek’s nostalgiac vision, depicting the evolution of love from liquid-limbed ecstasy to more subdued companionship. Eventually, there is a scene of heart-rending mourning, and Hovhannisyan didn’t hold back. All romantic arcadias, of course, are fleeting.


© MIlwaukee Mgazine by Paul Kosidowski  | Friday 2/17/2012




Love in a Time of War, Petr Zahradnicek with poet Chad Piechocki, music by Neil Davis and Seth Warren-Crowe. The choreographer and dancers Parker Brasser-Vos, Rachel Malehorn and Isaac Sharratt are all members of the Milwaukee Ballet.

Zahradnicek has come a very long way as a dance-maker. Recent pieces, and this trio most of all, reveal a new formal savvy and movement imagination. Zahradnicek here stylizes actions of war — stalking, fleeing, cowering, charging, retreating, diving for cover, taking bullets and giving them — into steps and gestures that work as pure dance but hold their narrative meaning. The dance is a bold woodcut, not a romantic painting, and the dancers perform it that way. Zahradnicek presents his elements first in a disciplined little squadron; as the battle against a ghost foe rages, the body shapes evolve and the ensemble geometry breaks down. Night falls, and the combatants sleep and then dream, first in a long solo for Brasser-Vos and then with Malehorn and Sharratt in duet. These passages feel pixilated and out of kilter in the way of dreams, in large part because Zahradnicek couches the steps uncomfortably against the strong musical pulse and because all the dancing is so tightly bound.

I wish I could tell you more about Piechocki’s poem, which begins in haunting voice-over about halfway through this 12-or-so-minute work. But I found it hard to attend to both the dancing and the words, which I’m sure were not in favor of war.


©  ThirdCoast Digest By Tom Strini | August 18th, 2012





Lakefront Date by Milwaukee Ballet choreographer and dancer Petr Zahradnicek was heaven.  Set to Bach sung by the oddly elegant Swingle Singers, the inventive watery choreography and heartfelt dancing captured the lakefront in summer.  I grinned and grinned.


(c) MIlwaukee  Express by John Schneider  | Wednesday 10/12/2011




Why?

MB Company member Petr Zahradnicek, who has staged several works on his home company, works in a style that combines American energy with Eastern European introspection (he’s a native of Czech Republic).


(c) MIlwaukee Mgazine by Paul Kosidowski  | Thursday 3/31/2011





The Milwaukee Ballet's imaginative "Pure Dance," the three-vignette program that opened Thursday at the Marcus Center, presents an artful combination of the precision and form of classical dance with the freedom and physical vocabulary of modern dance and a whiff of mime. Abandoning the sets and other trappings of grand ballet, it presents an expressive visual "reading" of short stories and poetry.


"Concourse," choreographed by Petr Zahradnicek, is effectively several small story arcs within a larger premise that takes a peek inside the wandering mind of a traveler stuck in an airport. As he waits, two muses lead him off into daydreams about the lives of the people around him.

Set to the folk/ethnic/rock/punk sounds of the group DeVotchKa, the piece swells from momentary encounters with strangers into delightfully imaginative, articulately danced scenes that vaporize as dreams always do, returning the traveler to the airport.

Imaginative use of such props as mops, streaming strips of fabric, crumpled sheets of paper and flashlights, as well as character-defining costumes, add surprising theatrical magic to the "daydream" dancing of a 14-member ensemble.

The program opens with "Coeur de Basque," an earthy, compelling piece for seven dancers choreographed by Jerry Opdenaker and set to the guitar music of composer Chris Spheeris.

The dancers use a bare stage and the piece's fascinating blend of styles, along with weightless lifts, occasional stiff-legged doll-like stances and visual surprise for a finale, to create intimate, poignant moments within a completely engaging performance.

The program ends with the lyrically poetic "Blades of Grass," choreographed by Val Caniparoli. Using the interconnectedness of blades of a grass as a metaphor for the connection of people to others and to places, the piece is absolutely wedded to the sinewy sounds of music by Academy Award-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun.

Twelve dancers revel in partnerships throughout the piece, bringing the piece to an end in a scene that is at once extremely simple and visually stunning.


By Elaine Schmidt, Special to the Journal Sentinel Posted: March 26, 2010








“First-time guest choreographer Petr Zahradnicek held to the assignment. His classically-based dessert dance, "Cake Love," began with, almost literally, the icing on the cake. Six dancers, dressed in creamy white costumes, moved with delicate showiness until, halfway through, they shed their outer clothing layers to reveal an explosion of color. One had to laugh at the sugar-sweet joy on their faces as they twirled scarves reminiscent of the smooth line of icing running through chef Jenny Dempsey's thick cake wedges.”


  1. (c)Originally published by Christopher Blank Special to The Commercial Appeal

October 5th 2009





Petr Zahradnicek’s Broad Waters is a different animal altogether, a gorgeous meditation with strong neo-classical leanings. Set to lush choral music by Henryk Gorecki, it’s a distilled narrative that often looks taken from an Art Deco frieze. Three soloists (Julianne Kepley, Rachel Malehorn and Luz San Miguel) each dance a heavily partnered solo, full of elegant angles and lovely compositions. And it’s all set amid David Grill’s rich blue-toned lighting, including simple Asian “river-effects” using silk fabric.


(c) MIlwaukee Mgazine by Paul Kosidowski  | Thursday 4/01/2011







Capitalizing on Friendship


Zahradnicek’s ballet has characters and an open-ended narrative. Patrick Howell plays a man at an airport who projects his concerns onto the people he sees there: businessmen, janitors, a distraught man, a pregnant woman.

The choreographer and dancers capitalized on their long friendship to make the parts organic for each individual. Malehorn and dancer Michael Linsmeier began work with Zahradnicek months ago to explore the possibilities of flashlights aimed on one another’s dancing bodies. This was the genesis of the ballet, and their pas de deux is a highlight, according to the others.

Frain, who plays a janitor, says the airport setting is a metaphor for “a place of mass confusion where people fail to notice one another; we don’t recognize how much we have in common.”

Gartell, who plays “an evil ex-girlfriend who stomped on the main character’s heart,” has had earlier dances choreographed for her by Zahradnicek. She believes this contains his best work and makes the fullest use of the unusual closeness of this family of dancers.

Or, as McCubbin jokes,  “We know him, so we can bully him a little more.”







Zahradnícek’s style, on the other hand, is pure ballet (he’s a member of the Milwaukee Ballet company), even though the dance is a gleeful tribute to The Mod that keeps itself just this side of camp (sometimes even boldly crossing over). Imagine the interludes in “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In” danced by Suzanne Farrell instead of Goldi Hawn and you have some idea of the spirit.”


“Unlike “Gelem, Gelem,” “Slip” is restlessly kinetic. The music is funky ‘70s jazz by the African group Ethiopiques. Even the spaces between the dances are filled with swirling disco spotlights. There’s a healthy sprinkle of psychedelia (more in the vein of Our Man Flint than Easy Rider) and ample opportunities for the company to strut its stuff.”


  1. (c)MIlwaukee Mgazine by Paul Kosidowski  | Thursday 4/10/2008