Waleria Gnatowska - Prima ballerina of the Grand Theatre in Warsaw



A personality of recent history no less famous than the just named gentlemen, was Waleria Gnatowska. She started a career at the theatre and charmed her public as a dancer. We find following personal record in the biographical dictionary of the Polish theatre:

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[1].

Apart from this biographic data some photos have been preserved, which show Waleria Gnatowska in dancing poses and roles. For the friendly support during the research and the making the photos available I would like to thank cordially the executive director of the Theatre Museum in Warsaw, Dr. Andrzej Kuczynski. A historical photo of the theatre, in which today there is not only the Theatre Museum, but which was also the main place of Waleria Gnatowska's work, is portrayed beside.


  1. [^] Biographical Dictionary of Polish Theater, vol. II PWN Warsaw, 1994, p. 227. For the translation, I thank Ms. Bozena Mazur, Nuremberg.


  • von der Lehr, Alfred. Die Gnatowskis. Die Geschichte einer masowischen Familie. Fürth : Selbstverlag 2000. ISBN-Nr: 3-00-005311-5