Jiří Jelinek was born in Prague and trained at the Prague
Conservatory of Dance and the Hamburg Dance Centre under John Neumeier. He was
a Principal Dancer with the Prague National Theatre Ballet and Stuttgart Ballet
before joining The National Ballet of Canada in 2010 as a Principal Dancer.
With the National Ballet, Mr. Jelinek has danced the
title role in Onegin, Siegfried in Swan Lake and principal roles
in Opus 19/The Dreamer, Serenade, The Seagull and
Chroma. He recently performed
the lead role of Serge Diaghilev in the Canadian premiere ofJohn
Neumeier’s Nijinskyand made his Toronto
debut as Hilaron in Giselle, Tybalt in the world premiere of Romeo
and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky and Claudius in the North American premiere
of Hamlet by Kevin O’Day. Mr. Jelinek also performed the role of the
Rajah/The Caterpillar in the North American premiere of Alice’s Adventures
in Wonderland by Christopher Wheeldon.
has performed in modern and neoclassical ballets by Maurice
Béjart, Jerome Robbins, William Forsythe, Glen Tetley, Uwe Scholz, Itzik
Kylián, Hans van Manen and Jorma Elo. With
other companies, Mr. Jelinek
created the roles of Jack the Ripper in Lulu: A
Monster Tragedy and Claudius in Hamlet as well as roles in Gambling
x 5, Nautilus, Nocturne, Avatar
and Bloodstone orThe Sign-Painter’s Button.
As a guest artist, Mr. Jelinek has
performed with The Hamburg Ballet, National Theatre in Prague, Vienna
Staatsoper and the National Ballet of China and various galas such as the Sixth
International Ballet Star Gala in Taipei, 80 Years of John Cranko at Stuttgart,
Nijinsky Gala, Prix de Lausanne Gala, Sue Jin Kang and Friends tour and the
National Ballet of China’s 60th Anniversary Gala.
Question and Answer
You are performing the role of Tybalt in the world premiere of Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky. Tell us about your character.
He is enemy number one of Romeo. He is the ‘Prince of Cats’ and feels he must protect his family honour at all times.
Describe Alexei Ratmansky’s approach to re-creating this classic story.
Alexei is following Shakespeare’s text closely. His choreography speaks the words through movement. He pays close attention to the details, not just with Principal Dancers but with the Corps de Ballet as well. He leaves us a lot of freedom acting-wise, but your actions have to be true to the story.
What can audiences expect from his Romeo and Juliet?
The audience can expect more action than the Cranko version. There is a lot more dancing and Alexei has also included some music that was cut in the previous production. It will be a spectacular production that is very faithful to the Shakespeare story.
You joined the National Ballet as a Principal Dancer in 2010. Tell us what brought you here.
It was to opportunity to work with Artistic Director Karen Kain and the National Ballet’s diverse repertoire. I had been at Stuttgart Ballet for nine seasons and was ready for a change. I also wanted to improve my English!
When you are not in the studio, what do you like to do for fun in Toronto?
When I’m not in the studio I love to spend time with my wife and the friends that I have made here. I like biking, especially along the lakeshore, and in the summer I love to spend time on Toronto Island. I love the outdoors and camping - to feel the connection that we have with the nature and animals (the connection human beings have been destroying for decades!!).
I’m a big music lover and listen to music all the time. I have been a DJ for the last 8 years. I don’t spin much anymore, but I did DJ a Halloween party and it was awesome!
is a standout as Diaghilev, with his veneer of icy calm. He is both sexy and
nasty, and dominates the stage.” The Globe and Mail, 2013
Romeo and Juliet
Jelinek is magnetic as the temperamental bad-boy Tybalt.”
"Jelinek is one of the
most compelling Onegins I have ever seen in any company, period.”
CBC Radio, 2010