April 2020 

Gerard Wilk

dancer | teacher

Gerard Wilk – dancer, pedagogue, soloist of Maurice Béjart’s Ballet of the 20th Century. Born on 12 January 1944 in Glewitz (then Germany), he died on 28 August 1995. 


Wilk began his ballet education at the age of 13 at the Bytom Ballet School. He then completed the Warsaw Ballet School, winning the 2nd prize (1st prize was not awarded) in the Soloists category at the 2nd National Stage Dance Competition in 1961. In 1964, he graduated from the Warsaw Ballet School and joined the Warsaw Opera’s ballet company. For a year, he also danced at the ballet ensemble of the Central Artistic Ensemble of the Polish Army.

In 1965/66, Wilk danced in the corps de ballet at Warsaw’s Wielki Theatre; in November 1966 he was appointed a Coryphée, and in January 1968 he was made the second soloist. In 1970, Wilk was appointed the first soloist with the company. In 1967-1970, he danced all major male parts in the repertoire of the Wielki Theatre, including Basilio in Don Quixote choreographed by Alexei Chinchiadze, prince Siegfried in Swan Lake choreographed by Raisa Kuznetsova, count Albert in Giselle and the Prince in Cinderella choreographed by Alexei Chinchiadze, Spartacus in Spartacus choreographed by Evgeni Changa, and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Alexei Chinchiadze.


In the second half of the 1960s, Gerard Wilk appeared in music and ballet films, including The Marriage of Convenience (dir. Stanisław Bareja, chor. Krystyna Mazurówna), Phantoms (dir. Ryszard Pluciński, chor. Krystyna Mazurówna), Adventure With a Song (dir. Stanisław Bareja, chor. Krystyna Mazurówna), Mimetism, or the Disappearance of Honore Subrac (dir. Stefan Szlachtycz, chor. Witold Gruca), Games (dir. Grzegorz Lasota, chor. Conrad Drzewiecki).


In 1968, he starred in Roly Poly, a science fiction comedy directed by Andrzej Wajda, and in March 1970 he choreographed F. Dürrenmatt’s Play Strindberg (dir. Andrzej Wajda, music by Jerzy Maksymiuk, Współczesny Theatre in Warsaw). He also danced in a clip to Paul McCartney’s Hey Jude  and a TV clip to Piotr Szczepanik’s Kochać [To Love]. Wilk was also a fashion model, with pictures of him appearing in Przekrój, sporting a collection designed by Barbara Hoff..


In June 1970, Gerard Wilk emigrated from Poland and joined the Ballet of the 20th Century in Brussels. As a member of Maurice Béjart’s company, Wilk performed at the world’s largedst ballet and theatre stages. The website of the company (renamed the Béjart Ballet Lausanne in 1987), he is still billed in a plethora of performances, including Pli Selon Pli, GaÎté Parisienne, Eros Thanatos, Dichterliebe/ Amor di Poeta, V Comme…. While with Béjart, Wilk also starred in Faust, and won great acclaim for his rendtition of Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet choreographed by Maurice Béjart to the music of Hector Berlioz.


In 1979, Wilk starred in a ballet movie Podróż Magiczna [Magical Journey] (music by Andrzej Zieliński, choreographed by Zofia Rudnicka). His stage career finished in 1981. Upon retirement from the stage, he settled in Paris, where he worked as a teacher, collaborating with companies in Berlin, Florence, Karlsruhe, Lausanne, Lyon, Monte Carlo, Munich, Warsaw, and the Paris-based ballet schools run by Peter Goss and Andrzej Glegolski.

In November 1994, he directed Jules Massenet’s Werther for Warsaw’s Wielki Theatre. A year later, he appeared in his own biography, Gerard Wilk – kilka razy zaczynałem od zera [Gerard Wilk – I started from scratch several times], directed by Bogdan Łoszewski.


Gerard Wilk’s memorial service took place at the Père-Lachaise Cemetery.


Compiled by Joanna Brych




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