Zuzana Ďuricová Hájková

Zuzana Ďuricová Hájková (1963, Bratislava) choreographer, director, pedagogue, dancer, and director of the Dance Studio Theatre in Banská Bystrica, began to develop her creative aspirations while already a high school student in Bratislava. While she worked for the Bralen modern dance company, she created her first choreographies: Don’t Leave Me Alone and Friendships. The productions were staged in 1982 and won awards for choreography at the 3rd Slovak Festival of Modern Stage Dance in Banská Bystrica.

In 1984, Zuzana Hájková founded the Auriga company at the Academy of Performing Arts. The company later moved to the House of Culture Dúbravka, and in 1992 was transformed into the professional ensemble Contemporary Dance Group, which resided in Istropolis and the Chamber Concert Studio of the Slovak Radio in Bratislava. In the crucial period of the 1990s, the company’s productions included performances by the most outstanding dance artists of the time, e.g., Zuzana Bacová,[1] Petra Fornayová, Danuša Dolinková,[2] Daniel Raček, Ivana Skybová, and Robert Meško. In the studio, the Group presented three compositions: the first two were Images (1992) and The Master of Blue and Green in the Morning (1993) choreographed by Milan Kozánek and Zuzana Bacová, among others. The third production of the Contemporary Dance Group was Zuzana Hájková’s devised choreography The Visit (1994).

In 1996, Hájková completed her studies of ballet choreography at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava under the pedagogical supervision of Jozef Sabovčík and Karol Tóth. Subsequently, she did an artistic internship in the Győr Ballet under the leadership of Ivan Markó, who used to work in the ensemble of the French dancer and choreographer Maurice Béjart.

In the early years of Zuzana Hájková’s professional career, she worked as a pedagogue at the Music and Dance School in Bratislava (the present Dance Conservatory of Eva Jaczová). Later on, she helped establish the dancing programme at the Ján Levoslav Bella Conservatory in Banská Bystrica. As the programme director, she elaborated the methodology of teaching dance that gave equal importance to the technique of classical dance and modern dance.

After her work as the director of the Ballet Department at the State Opera in Banská Bystrica in 1997, and a brief stint in the management of the Dance Studio, Hájková founded the Dance Studio in Banská Bystrica (2000–2009) with conservatory graduates as its members. Eventually, in 2011, she established the first professional dance theatre – the Dance Studio Theatre in Banská Bystrica.

As a choreographer she has collaborated with many theatres in Slovakia and abroad (Andrej Bagar Theatre in Nitra, Jonáš Záborský Theatre in Prešov, Puppet Theatre on the Crossroads in Banská Bystrica, Klicper Theatre in Hradec Králové, East Bohemian Theatre in Pardubice, National Theatre in Prague, among others). She worked as the artistic director of the State Opera Ballet and was the founder and later teacher of the dance department of the Ján Levoslav Bella Conservatory in Banská Bystrica. Since 1998 she has worked as the director of the Dance Theatre Studio, a professional dance theatre, currently the only dance house in Slovakia. She won the First Prize in the National Czechoslovak Choreographic Competition for the project Stop, the Award for best direction and choreography of the production New Trees in Me, and, in 2009, became the winner of the main prize of the DIV festival for the production Closeness of the Distant Ones. During the eighteen years of the theatre’s existence, she has created two dozen original projects, such as Sattó – Dance of the Wind; Silent Desert; I Haven’t Written to You for So Long; Salmon; The Core; and Purification. Hájková has become one of the most prominent dance personalities in Slovakia who keeps systematically advancing the field of contemporary dance.