Tereza Březovská

Tereza Březovská je naší první narátorkou v připravované sekci rozhovorů s absolventy Baletní školy Jána Nemce. U pana Nemce studovala až do dospělosti. Nyní působí jako architektka.

Hello Tereza, let’s start from the very beginning. How did you first get into dance?

My grandmother brought me into it; she loves classical music and was herself involved in ballet as a child. She convinced my parents to sign my sister and me up with Mr. Nemec.

Why Mr. Nemec specifically?

Most likely because my grandmother knew him as a dancer at the National Theater. And back then was when he was starting out with the school. I remember how we danced our first performance—more just a show for our parents—at the Sokol Gym in Prague’s Žižkov district. By the next year, we were dancing at a theater.

How long did you study with Mr. Nemec?

I started at age five and stayed until college. Then I tried street dance for a while, but once I was in college, I quit it all.

Have you ever considered doing ballet at a professional level?

I probably never would, because I know my limits (laughs), and I knew them since childhood. I’ve never had an ear for music, and yet precisely due to ballet lessons, it has improved a little, but for a professional ballet career, that is simply a handicap. I may have had a good bodily disposition—large arches for example—but otherwise I don’t think I’m physically good for ballet. And I also wasn’t that petite type that I tend to see on the stages. My parents also correctly assessed back then that it wouldn’t be the right path for me. I treated ballet as a hobby. And another major barrier for me was that I was never able to come to terms to stage fright.

Did you enjoy the stage despite all that stage fright?

Yes, I did. Piano lessons at the elementary music school were far more stressful for me back then. Since I didn’t have an ear for music, I had to learn it all technically. Ballet was one rung lower; I actually really liked those performances. On the piano, everyone’s alone, and every error is audible. But it’s true that in ballet I also took on some rather solo roles, and despite the fright, I enjoyed it.

What solo role did you come by?

I danced Giselle. This ballet is dear to my heart, so this was sort of my dream role. But looking back today, I wouldn’t have put me in that role (laughs).

What was the collective like at the Ballet School?

Fantastic—actually I found my lifelong best friend there, who I meet up with every week and write to nonstop. I also sometimes see the people who stayed with dance. Usually after a performance we sit for a glass together. It is important to me that I made my way into this community, because it’s a completely different social bubble than where I spend most of my time.

Was there anything you didn’t like about lessons with Mr. Nemec?

The usual—warming up. Probably my least favorite part, but naturally over time you come to understand that it’s important.

What are your memories of Mr. Nemec?

We loved him as children. He was an authority for us—but also someone we could turn to at any time. But we respected him from the technical standpoint as well. You could tell how as a dancer at the National Theater he was a professional in his field, and he also knew wonderfully how to pass on his art.

Ballet is a fairly demanding field; did your lessons ever just feel like drilling?

I don’t think so. The children who wanted could find a love of the art and a path to the professional level too. But the ones that didn’t take it so seriously came out of the lessons with a good feeling and liked them. I think it was better than if they had been stressed out and afraid to attend the next lesson.

Did the children ever cry?

I don’t remember anything like that, at most maybe when someone didn’t get their dream role. But on the other hand, that was good. It taught the children that they can’t have everything right away, that some sort of hierarchy exists. They knew their place, and that’s how things work in life more or less. We sometimes had to struggle with jealousy. But during my studies, Mr. Nemec was an authority, and we trusted him to distribute roles with awareness, and so more than anything else it was a motivation to improve.

Did the students compete in ballet competitions during their studies?

Yes. And we also rode out to a retreat every summer. I didn’t skip a single year. I always looked forward to it, and I have happy memories of it. I remember how Mrs. Nemcová came there for one day every year, and that was always a big event. It was with her that we discovered the reality of the drilling that’s needed at the conservatory. But we always really looked forward to it, because of course when she praised someone, that was truly a holy moment. We attended our normal lessons in shorts and sweatpants, but when his wife, Mrs. Nemcová, came, we all dressed up in leotards and nylons and combed our little hair buns, and we stood obediently lined up in rows. In short, what was standard at other schools, we only experienced when Mrs. Nemcová arrived.

You studied 13 years with Mr. Nemec. Has dance remained in some way a part of your life to this day?

I later switched to street dance, in which I danced competitively and later also studied for some time. But then I dropped out of it completely when when I started my university studies. They were fairly difficult and didn’t leave much room for anything else. But I have to say that when I go to the theater for ballet, I miss the time when I myself was dancing. And that doesn’t happen for me with street dance.

Your studies were in architecture. How did you get into that field?

It probably came from how I attended a university-track high school and had artistic and technical skills. Architecture is a sort of multi-genre field. I gave film work a try as well, under a professor who teaches stage design at DAMU. I designed backdrops. If I’d stayed with that, it’s possible I would have gotten a chance to design a ballet performance. But I came back to architecture, because I regretted giving up that technical half.

Do you have any nice memories from your time at the Ján Nemec Ballet School?

I remember how one time we performed on Czech Television, in their show for the “Help the Children” charity. This was an untraditional experience for us. Or when, during our school performance of the Nutcracker, the Czech National Ballet’s soloists turned up—people like Tereza Podařilová, Zuzana Pokorná, and Jiří Kodym—and they danced the closing adagio. Naturally we looked up to them, and it was magnificent.

And finally, what message would you like to pass on to beginning dancers?

For them to hang on to dance despite the difficulties, even though they sometimes don’t want to—or it even hurts. Whenever I overcame all that, it was worth it. One needs to be aware that it’s never just about everything being pretty and wonderful, but that here like elsewhere you sometimes have to overcome yourself and stick with it. And that’s precisely what comes in handy the most in life. But I think that it’s to the credit of my parents, who didn’t let me give up when I said I didn’t want to attend anymore. They said I already had it paid for and would have to keep going until the semester’s end—and by that time I’d always changed my mind about quitting. This was because giving up was generally about some short-term annoyance, but in reality, I enjoyed ballet.