On 10 October 1913 at the Theatre Nowości in Warsaw, Walerja Gnatowska performs the role of Sumurun handmaid in SUMURUN (One Arabian Night).

Note:  notice the role of exotic dancer is performed by the world famous stage and film actress Pola Negri.

Michal_KuleszaMichał Kulesza, born in 1867, was a disciple of Hipolit Meunier, Joseph Mendez and Rafael Grassi.  In 1905 he became a ballet-master at the Warsaw Opera.  A year later he staged a ballet Tadeusz and Zosia, the contents were based on [Adam] Mickiewicz’s Pan Tadeusz.  The ambitious idea of a purely Polish ballet performance, however, failed.  Staging that kind of ballet would require the cooperation of a good writer, musician, and stage designer.  Meanwhile the management of the theatre – for understandable reasons – was by no means concerned with the success of a purely Polish ballet.

Next Kulesza put on a ballet Sen after the ball and The Enchanted Forest and resumed ballets of the former repertoire, like Robert and Bertrand, La Fille Mal Gardée, Pan Twardowski and others. He was a director of the ballet at that time with outstanding pedagogy Jan Walczak, who also held the position of the manager of the ballet school.  In 1909 with Kazimierz Łobojko arrived from Petersburg involved there and put on ballets on the Warsaw stage Harlequin’s Million (a.k.a. Harlequinade) and The She Butterfly.  Then pupils of Walczak were prima ballerinas: Maria Pawińska, Waleria Gnatowska and Anna Gaszewska.

Maria Pawińska and Waleria Gnatowska enjoyed the great sympathy of the Warsaw audience.  Every their performance attracted crowds of spectators who didn't spare mentions to dancers for the theatre, giving them with flowers and gifts.  In 1913, discussing the premiere of the Szecherezada ballet, commentator of the “Morning Courier” (11 March) writes:  “Ms. Gnatowska was a central figure of the soirée who in dances and the mime game developed the fine arts, rich technology, and the elegance.”  In 1917, when Zajlich took out on the Warsaw stage large divertissement, commentator of the “Morning Courier” (4 December) writes:  "Our Prima Ballerinas, Waleria Gnatowska and Maria Pawińska, had twice the opportunity to demonstrate their capabilities, and so Ms. Gnatowska temperament, grace and charm, and Ms. Pawińska spotless cleanness of the dance line and purity."  Speaking about the participation of the ballet soloists in the opera Carmen, this comment of 26 November 1917 is noted:  "Amongst a riot of colors two white soloists, Ms. Gnatowska and Pawińska, made a highly artistic impression."


  • Wysocka, Tacjanna. Dzieje baletu, PWN Warszawa, 1970, S. 419-420.

At the beginning of 1918 the theatre had three excellent soloists: with Anna Gaszewska, Maria Pawińska, Waleria Gnatowska. Sudden and unexpected death of the best of them, prima ballerina Anna Gaszewska-Chojnacki (born in Warsaw in July 1883, died suddenly 22 February 1918), at the age of just 34 years, depriving the Warsaw Theater stage its most artistic individuality, a popular dancer and valued not only for talent but also for the charm and beauty of unprecedented “with exceptionally beautiful eyes and beautiful construction of the legs” (Paul Owerłło, From beyond the platform in 1936). From the beginning of her career Gaszewska belonged to the corps de ballet of the Grand Theater, for a few years she was its prima ballerina. She performed with great success on the international stage in Europe and America, danced in a team of Anna Pavlov. The greatest achievements for Gaszewska included roles in the ballets: Swan Lake, Coppelia, Pan Twardowski (in the old version of music from Adolf Sonnenfelda), Katarzyna daughter of the bandit, Marriage of the Fathers and many others. In the final years of her life “talent [of Anna Gaszewska] developed nice and luxuriantly. Continuing the work of perhaps a bit too strenuous (Ms. Gaszewska created major roles in all the operas) maintained ballet repertoire [...] She has maintained an immaculate style of dance, she has maintained a robust line of beauty and aesthetics to seek the purity of the movement” (Adolf Starkman, from: J. Czempiński, The Polish Theatres in Warsaw 1915 – 1917).


After 1918 the stage was less then 26-year-old Maria Pawińska (born. 2 February 1891, died. 2 December 1968), which “exceptionally successfully he is heralding [jący] oneself for the foreseeable future talent [...] at the strenuous work – how reviewers expected – undoubtedly will put the artist in the collection of first-rate stars” (A. Starkman, jw.). She got married and she has already rarely appeared in the twentieth years. Similarly, the fate negotiated by Waleria Gnatowska (born 14 April 1883), which in the years 1918 - 20 showed up yet in several roles: Princess in the ballet Cleopatra, Zabeidy in Scheherazade and others. Soon, and she disappeared from the scene.


Amongst the corps de ballet of the Grand Theater –which in the year 1923 consisted of 24 dancers and 46 dancers – came out on indisputably the top one spots two young soloists: Halina Szmolcówna (born 1892, died 28 September 1939) and Irena Szymańska (born 28 August 1899 in Warsaw).


  • Mamontowicz-Łojek, Bożena. Terpsychora i lekkie muzy taniec widowiskowy w Polsce w okresie międzywojennym (1918-1939), Polski Wydawmn. Muzyczne [Krakow], 1972, S. 9-10.


Biographical dictionary of the Polish theatre

(Słownik Biograficzny Teatru Polskiego)

Gnatowska Waleria, married name Suzin (04/14/1883 - 02/17/1974 Warszawa/Warsaw), dancer. Daughter of Stanislaw Gnatowski and Agnieszka born Kowalska, wife of Bronislaw Suzin (marriage 07/24/1922).

1899 she graduated from the Warsaw ballet school and was recruited by the ballet ensemble of the Grand Theatre; since 02/10/1901 appointed exceptional expert, around 1905 the second soloist. The most important roles: 1905 she danced as the Spanish doll (Wieszczka Lalek/ Fortuneteller of Dolls), 1908 the Aurora (Przebudzenie sie Flory/Flora's awaking) and Aktea (Eunice). On the 06/09/1910 she had a successless debut as an actress in the role of the Kamilla (Zolnierz krolowej Madagaskaru/The soldier of the Queen of Madagascar) on the stage of the New Theatre.

At the beginning of 1911 she was engaged at the Ballets Russes by S. Diaghilev. 1912 - 1922 she repeatedly made an appearance as a ballet soloist on the stage of the Grand Theatre as well as in several operettas at the Novelty-theatre. At that time she belonged to the most regarded dancers, she was given the title of the Prima Ballerina; one praised her "extraordinary lightness and temperament as well as her winning scenic qualities and innate charm" (J. Czempinski).

T. Wysocka quoted the review of the premiere of "Sheherezada/Scheherazade" (03/10/1913; Gnatowska danced the Zobeida), in which a reporter of "Morningpost" praised her as a "heroine of the evening who developed various technics and elegance in the dance and mimcal appearance". She also appeared in Warsaw's cabarets: Dolina Szwajcarska (Swiss valley) 1916, Sphinx 1919, Mirage 1921, she gave a guest performance in the Grand Theater in Poznan (10/06/1920 Zart Amora/Amor's joke, in the autumn of 1921, among other things as Swanilda in Copella), and also in Germany (1917, 1918), in France (1919), England (1920).

After her marriage in 1922 she lived secluded. On the list of the Federation of Polish actors 1923, she was registered as a "no branch dancer ". She was a very talented dancer. She felt best in those roles, which made it possible for her to perform as an actress and dancer. She danced among other things the Teresa (Postoj kawalerii/Respite of the cavalry), the Cleopatra (Noc Walpurgi/Night of Walpurgis), Imos (Hellada i Polonia/Hellada and Polonia), Ksiezniczka/Princess (in Cleopatra). After 1945 (still in the year 1951) she gave private dance lessons. 1915 she played in the Polish film Zona/Wife.


  • Słownik Biograficzny Teatru Polskiego, t. II PWN Warszawa, 1994, S. 227.