Iwona Olszowska is a dancer, choreographer, contemporary dance teacher (specialising in body awareness, contact improvisation, and improvisation as performance), and Somatic Movement Educator of Body Mind Centering®.
She has learnt her dance skills at New York’s dance studios, the George Mason University in Washington, the University of Alabama, and the University of Calgary, workshops held by the Silesian Dance Theatre in Bytom and the Centre for Culture Promotion in Zielona Góra. She has also learnt dance at dance festivals across Poland.
Olszowska began her career as dancer in the 1980s at the Kontrast student dance theatre, together with Marta Pietruszka and Katarzyna Skawińska, among others.
In 1989, together with Marta Pietruszka, she co-founded Experimental Dance Studio (Eskperymentalne Studio Tańca, EST). Already in the late 1980s EST held workshops on the fundamentals of the Limón Technique and Rudolf Laban movement analysis. Since 1989 Olszowska has been EST's artistic director; the studio currently focuses on structural improvisation, lecture-performances, and site-specific projects. She is responsible for the development of the Obszar tańca w Teatrze BARAKAH (Dance Zone at the BARAKAH Theatre) series.
People who collaborated with EST include Janusz Skubaczkowski and Katarzyna Skawińska. Artists such as Dominika Knapik and Magdalena Przybysz started out at Olszowska’s classes. Ewa Szubstarska, Aneta Szydłak, and Paweł Konior are now active abroad.
Olszowska’s activities have had a wider, nationwide influence as well. Over the years, Olszowska has given classes not only in Kraków, but also in the seaside cities of Gdańsk, Gdynia, and Sopot (the Tricity), at festivals in Poznań, Bytom, Lublin, and Kalisz, as well as in Rzeszów, Wrocław and Kielce, where she has met subsequent groups of people entering into the world of dance on both professional and amateur terms.
She creates solo pieces and group choreographies for EST and the Polish Dance Theatre. She has also devised stage movement for dramatic theatres (Rozmaitości Theatre in Warsaw; Narodowy Stary Theatre and Juliasz Słowacki Theatre in Kraków). Olszowska has run coaching sessions concluding with performance showcases, e.g. Pan European Art Laboratory in Kraków, or Falling After Paxton in Toruń, Łódź, Białystok, and Wrocław.
She has collaborated with Pracownia Fizyczna (Zdarzenia; You come, we'll show you what we do. On dance improvisation, an exhibition at MS2 in Łódź), Renata Piotrowska (Unknown), Marta Pietruszka and Andrzej Sadowsk (B&B), Marcin Janus and Magda Przybysz (Serce zRozum), Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Risa Jaroslow (Bliskość), Maida Withers (Aurora), Pierre Deloche (Ocean Miasta), Michael Schumacher (Just say it), and the Samples project, a Polish-Romanian project developed with EST.
She dances in solo pieces, EST group choreographies, lately also in non-conventional spaces, structural improvisations, including lecture performances: Serce zRozum, Bones Mind Moving –Moving Bones Mind, Falling after Paxton (with EST/Hurtownia Ruchu), and site-specific projects: Płaczące krzesła –Plac Bohaterów Getta, Tramwaj zwany podążaniem, Autoshow, Dziwne Nie_pokoje (with EST) or And we will dance together with (with Jacek Owczarek).
Olszowska has danced in the USA, Canada, Finland, Russia, England, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Israel, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and Moldova. She has received awards for her choreographies, consistency in striving to achieve her artistic objectives, and stage personality. She has also been awarded scholarships from the Stafan Batory Foundation (Warsaw) and the ArtsLink programme (New York). She sat on the 2014 Polish Dance Platform's artistic commission.
She runs courses for dance instructors, teaches extra-mural programmes at the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź, deliveres dance workshops and classes at contact improvisation festivals in Poland and abroad (e.g. in Ukraine, England, Russia, Moldova, Germany, Italy, and Portugal). For eight years she had taught at the Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts in Kraków; currently she teaches at Hurtownia Ruchu and Kontakt. Przestrzeń Ruchu i Tańca in Kraków.