Popiel Jan Sykstus Eustachy Sylwester (1821-1883), a dancer and educationist. Born on March 27 in Rybitwa (Sochaczew county), he was a son of a forest warden Lukasz and Franciszka Luszczewski. From 1833 he attended Warsaw School of ballet under Maurice Pion, Roman Turczynowicz and Mikolaj Grekowski. His first performance was on January 1, 1835 as a member of chorus line in "Powinszowanie". Hist first solo rolls performed in 1836 in the performances given by the School in the Rozmaitosci Theathre: on June 2 as a Pilgrim ("Fletrowers zaczarowany"), on July 2 as Riffald ("Opiekun oszukany") and on October 7 as Janek ("Dwa posagi"). In 1840 as a dancer of the Warsaw Ballet (since April 1, 1838) he additionaly took a course in the Warsaw School of Drama. His first grand roll was Bertrand in second performance of the ballet "Robert and Bertrand czyli dwaj zlodzieje" (music by J.P. Schidt, J. Stefani, J. Damse). A success of his performance brought a promotion to the position of a character soloist. During many years he belonged to the top performers of the Warsaw Ballet, he was one of the best character dancers, particularly ralented im mazurkas. Because his musical talent was parallelled by his drama abilities, he created many outstanding dance-mimic rolls  (Tomasz – "Anetta, czyli sen wiesniaczki", music by J. Stefani, Count de Saint Leone – "Hrabina i wiesniaczka", music by A. Adam, Bellaspada – "Diabel kulawy", music by C. Gide, Baron – "Markietanka i pocztylion", music by C. Pugini) and later just mimic (Clopin – "Esmeralda", music by C. Pugini, Hortensio and Great Wezyr – "Asmodea", music by F. Benoist, N.H. Reber, Walenty – "Faust", music by C. Panizza, M. Costa, Zeid-Pasza – "Korsarz", music by A. Adam, title role – "Marco Spada", music by D. Auber, Michonnet – "Modniarki", music by Strebinger, Hans – "Corka zle strzezona", music by P. Hertel, Count d’Egmont – "Hrabina d’Egmont", music by P. Giorza, Loki i Odyn – "Bogini Walhalli", music by A. Baur).
One of his greatest attainments was a title role in "Pan Twardowski" (music by A. Sonnenfeld), which he was performing from its premiere (June 6, 1874) to the end of his scenic career. In February 1851 he performed in Petersburg, together with entire Warsaw Ballet. Second time, he alone, performed there in January 1866 and tought mazaurka Russian aristocrats. In July 1868 he was appointed as a mimic teacher in the Warsaw School of Ballet. On April 1, 1873 was his thirty fifth anniversary of his dancing career and was liable for pension, which he denied and stayed with the ballet. He performed systematically another five years, later more and more seldom, till he died. Since 1843 he was also a private dance teacher and was extremaly popular not only in Warsaw. Very often he would go to the other Polish cities running dance courses for locals. He published books on dancing mazurkas and quadrille and Nauka tancow salonowych (W.). He was also active for the acting community as a bookkeeper for the actors' mutual trust fund of the Warsaw Government Theatres. In his private time he would write a record of ballet performances noting all particulars acompanying each performance. This record has been unfortunatelly missing. Popiel died on July 4, 1883 in Warsaw and was buried in the Powazki Cemetary.

Popiel was married (May 19, 1844) with Magdalena Sauret. His three daughters completed the Warsaw School of Ballet. Helena (born in 1844), a wife to Czerkasow (Czerkiesow), was for long years a coryphaeus in the Warsaw Ballet, Jozefa (1847-1879), a wife to Boleslaw Leszczynski, tried drama but he did not attain any successes, the youngest Romana became a part of a history of Polish Theatre (vid.)

Estreicher w. XIX; Slown. Reatru Pol. (fot., bibliogr., ikonogr.); Album teatralne, W. 1897 II 29; - Pudelek J., Warszawski balet w latach 1867-1915, Kr. 1981; taz, Warszawski balet romantyczny 1802-1866, Kr. 1968;-"Kur. Por." 1883 nr 184; "Kur. Warsz. 1868 nr 153, 1877 nr 71, 1883 nr 167 a; -IS PAN; rkp. M. Chominskiego. J.S. Jasinskiego i Wl. Krogulskiego; Muz. Teatralne w W.: afisze i programy; Paraf. Przemienienia Panskiego w W.: akt zgonu 1883/99; Paraf. Sw. Malgorzaty w Leoncinie pow. Nowy Dwor Mazowiecki: akt urodzenia 1821/26; Urzad Stanu Cywilnego Warszawa-Srodmiescie.

Janina Pudelek


Translation from Polish to English: sp

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This site was created on June 15, 1998 and updated on May 11, 2007
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