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HISTORY OF KOSOVO BALLET

The first troupe of the Kosovo Ballet was formed in 1972. Ballet dancers from this generation were educated in the Secondary School of Ballet in Skopje, under the leadership of director Tatjana Petkovska. Twenty-five dancers from Kosovo graduated from the school- 19 males and 6 females.

After the successful completion of their schooling, most of the dancers returned to Pristina. The Kosovo Ballet was formed within the National Theater of Kosovo. The first members of the ballet were: Ahmet Brahimaj, Rustem Selca Nikçi Elez, Albanian Hoxha, Asma Mulla, Selajdin Kice, Gani Loshi Jonuz Beqiraj, Hysen Podrimçaku, Rustem Bajrami, Rustem Metaj, Isa Bajraktari, Gani Shala, Skender Domniku, Shaban Shabanaj, and Enver Berisha. Abdurrahman Nokshiqi was named director. Later, 5 female ballet dancers from Skopje joined the troupe (Nexhmije Meha Selca, Sabrije Spahiu Shkreli), as well as two ballet dancers Kosovo (Enver Elshani and Jashar Berisha).

Due to the lack of female ballet dancers, the Kosovo Ballet enjoyed many guest artists from around the world, such as England: Vanda Ibra, Suzan Lejk and Xhoana Xhenkins; Poland: Joana Andziak, Lidija Tomashevska and Ana Stavnjak; Romania: Lilana Benudau; Belgrade:Vjollca Curri and from Philippines: Marja Bertlan.

With hard work and dedication, the first generation staged many large productions, including: "Sokol & Mirusha", "Halili & Hajria", "Bolero", "Legjenda mbi ngadhnjimin", "Romeo and Juliet", "Kenga e Rexhes", "Besa", "Don Quixote", "Fyelltari", "E bukura More", etc.

In 1985, Ahmet Brahimaj was named Head of the Kosovo Ballet.

The first generation made a valuable contribution to the establishment of the arts scene in Kosovo. Outside of Kosovo, the ballet performed with great success on all of the stages in former Yugoslavia. They also participated multiple times in the International Festival "Ballet Biennale" in Ljubljana and the "Summer Games in Dubrovnik", to name a few.

In 1991, the dancers of the Kosovo ballet were removed by force from the theater. At that point, the ballet ceased all of their activities.

After the war, with the help of some colleagues, Ahmet Brahimaj opened the first High School of Ballet, as part of Secondary Musical School “Prenke Jakova."

In 2001, after many years of absence, the first generation of the Kosovo Ballet returned to the stage, accompanied by the young dancers of the school. The first show, “Fyelltari” premiered with great success. This show was result of coordination between the National Theatre, the French Liaison Office and UNMIK.

In 2005, Ahmet Brahimaj’s first class from the High School of Ballet graduated. Today, these dancers make up the core of the Kosovo Ballet. The graduates included: Behije Murtezi, Luljeta Ademi, Vjollca Llugiqi, Leonora Rexhepi, Bardha Neziri, Jeta Musolli, Sinan Kajtazi, Labinot Rexhepi, Drilon Podrimçaku, and Driton Saqipi. Later more dancers joint the troupe from younger generation of school, such as: Teuta Krasniqi, Marigona Hoxha, Kreshnik Musolli, Sead Vuniqi, Muhamet Bikliqi and Liridon Mziu. As New troupe, the Kosovo Ballet Troupe has very talented dancers, dedicated to work, which makes this troupe almost the same level as other troupes in Europe and World.

Although fairly new, the Ballet Troupe is one of the youngest in the Ballkan region with talented and dedicated dancers and is ranked alongside European troupes for their quality.

The ballet has performed many successful shows, both modern and classical. After the ballet was reestablished, the troupe worked very closely with Albanian choreographer Gjergj Prevazi. Together they managed to stage his modern dance works entitled "Transition II", “I do not hear the gong?", "Contrast " and "Performance”. "Ballet Collage", choreographed by Elton Cefa, was another successful show which included excerpts from "Don Quixote", "Giselle", "Le Corsaire", and "Swan Lake".

The ballet also established an outstanding relationship with Bulgarian prima-ballerina Sylvia Tomov. With Ms. Tomov’s choreography, the ballet performed "An evening of Classical Ballet", including music from famous composers, such as P.I Tchaikovsky, Adolphe Adam, and more. This show displayed that the Kosovo Ballet has well-prepared and well-trained dancers. Cooperation with Sylvia Tomova did not end there. Ms. Tomova returned to Kosovo to stage "Sleeping Beauty". With the beautiful music of P.I Tchaikovsky, the tireless work of all staff (starting from the choreographer, ballet dancers, director, and others), this show was a turning point for the ballet. It achieved record ticket sales, a larger audience and following, and was an indication that the Kosovo Ballet is truly a professional troupe.

Following Ms. Tomova, the ballet had many opportunities to work with great choreographers. Russian-Bulgarian choreographer Sergey Sergeev staged "Carmen", with music from Bisset, Schedrin and Ravel. Russian choreographer Konstantin Uralsky choreographer "More than two to Tango", with music of Astor Piazzolas. Choreographer Artan Ibërshimi from Albanian staged two shows, "The Paganini Rhapsody ", a show with great music composed by Sergey Rachmaninoff, and "Ping Pong Spectrum". All of the performances achieved great success and are still in the ballet’s repertoire of the theater. Most importantly, they still bring in a great audience.

Recent cooperation includes Dutch choreographer Arthur Kuggeleyn, who premiered the show "Oh my God," a remake of "Dios Mio” (specially recreated for the Kosovo Ballet). With the music of Christian Meyer, the show had big impression on the public, the art critics, and has continued to show the quality of the Kosovo Ballet. This performance later garnered an invitation from the “Zurich Theater Spektakel”, an arts festival in Switzerland.

In the 2010/2011 season, the ballet premiered a new classical performance, with Turkish choreographer Mehmet Balkan and his assistant Larissa Barth entitled “Relationships”. Ilir Kerni, an Albanian choreographer currently with the Zagreb Ballet, staged two shows for the troupe: “Love that Kills” and “Graduation Ball”. The ballet also had the opportunity to work with American choreographer Alexander Tressor, who premiered an original ballet entitled “Dancing with the Moon”.

The Kosovo Ballet is a very active troupe, dancing in performances of the highest professional quality. With hard working dancers and director, they work intensively with great devotion and with great for this difficult yes beautiful form of art.

Cooperation with Festivals: Kosovo Ballet, in addition to working with many choreographers, have had the opportunity to work with various dance troupes from around the world, from Switzerland, America, Holland, Sweden, etc. Among them, the Kosovo Ballet worked with American experimental theater La Mama to jointly perform the musical "Diana". Also from the US, dancers Coleen Cintron and Marie Morrow worked with the ballet to present work-shops and perform in "Show Dialog". Albanian composer Rauf Dhomi worked with the ballet to include them in the Kosovo Opera’s "Arbëresh’s Wedding.

The Kosovo Ballet has participated in many International Festivals such as: Festival of Ohrid - "I do not hear Gong" (07/08/2005), twice in the International Festival of Modern Dance and Theatre in Durres - "I do not hear Gong" (09/04/2006) and "Performance" (14/04/2000), Apollonia International Festival in Apollonia-Fier - "Contrast" (29/08/2006), International Festival "Dance Fest" in Skopje – “Performance (10/04/2009), "Scampa Dance Competition, Creativity and Interpretation" in Elbasan – “Performance” (10/09/2009) won first prize as best choreography, "Kosova International Theatre Festival" in Pristina - "Performance" (05/11/2009)

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