A native of Brno, Czech Republic,
Zdenek Konvalina studied classical and contemporary ballet at Brno
Conservatory. He was a Principal Dancer with the National Ballet of
Moravia-Silesia and Houston Ballet before joining The National Ballet of Canada
in 2006 as a Principal Dancer. In 2011, Mr. Konvalina
became a Guest Artist.
Mr. Konvalina has danced most of
the major works in the classical repertoire, including The Sleeping Beauty,
The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle,
La Fille mal gardée, Manon, The Merry Widow, Cinderella,
Onegin, Don Quixote and Song of a Wayfarer and numerous George Balanchine
works, including The Four Temperaments, Theme and Variations, Apollo
Mr. Konvalina danced in the company
premieres of The Seagull, In the Night, Suite of Dances, Glass Pieces,
Other Dances, Chroma and Russian Seasons.
He performed the lead role of Jack/The Knave of Hearts in the North American
premiere of Christopher Wheeldon’s Alice’s
Adventures in Wonderland.
Mr. Konvalina has won awards at
several international ballet competitions, including the Gold Medal at the
prestigious Helsinki International Ballet Competition in 2001. He has performed
throughout Europe, America
and Asia and has appeared in many gala
performances, such as the Gala des Étoiles in Montréal, Hommage aux Stravinsky,
Stars of 21st Century and the World Ballet Festival.
Questions & Answers
Zdenek, you often travel to guest with international companies as well as to visit family and friends abroad. This month you will be touring Japan with Valdimir Malakhov. What essentials do you pack when you travel?
Because of the airline rules, I have to pack under 25 kg, which is very frustrating! I like to bring things that make me feel like I am at home. I bring my Mac laptop that contains everything I need, as well as clothing and a lot of books. I don’t normally have a lot of time to read so I like having the time to do that when I travel.
What are you currently reading?
I just finished Kite Runner [by Khaled Hosseini]. I have not seen the movie, but I thought I would start with the book and it was fantastic. I have started on Hosseini’s second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, now.
Do you read mostly fiction?
I started reading fiction to help with my English. I like fiction because it takes you to other cultures and places. With Kite Runner for example, it showed me a much more personal and human side of the Middle East.
I still read in English because my whole life is in English now. My mother asks me "What happened to your Czech??" when she sees me and she brings me Czech books to read.
I hear that aside from dance, you also love to paint. Is dance an inspiration for your paintings?
I do love to paint and I have been doing it for a couple of years now. In a way, I paint to get away from dance and from constant movement. Dance is my profession, whereas painting is a hobby for me. When I paint, I am inspired by things in everyday life – inspiration can strike when you least expect it. I have done some commissioned paintings for specific spaces and that has inspired me. I like to be able to fill the space and make a piece that fits it well.
Where can people see your paintings?
I have created a website for my paintings at Zdenek-Konvalina.com. I am also part of a collaborative piece which is happening in March. The National Ballet of Canada Orchestra will be featured before performances of Rooster, playing music by Guillaume Côté, which was inspired by my paintings.
What would you be if you were not a dancer?
An architect or designer.
Mr. Konvalina is sponsored through Dancers First by Gretchen Ross.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
“As Jack, Konvalina can do no wrong. He has
always cut a romantic figure on stage with his excellent technique, and he is
every inch the ardent lover as the Knave.”
The Globe and Mail, 2011
“Konvalina… engag[es] the choreography’s
technical challenges fearlessly while charging it with almost conversional
Suite of Dances
“In some ways Konvalina goes Baryshnikov
one step better providing the ballet with an effortless charm that radiates
from the stage like incandescent light. Pure magic.”
The Hamilton Spectator, 2010