The Slovenia Times

Poet Vouk and ballet dancer Neubauer win Prešeren Prizes

Ballet dancer Henrik Neubauer and poet Erika Vouk. Photo: STA
Poet Erika Vouk and ballet dancer, choreographer and director Henrik Neubauer are the winners of the 2024 Prešeren Prizes, Slovenia's top accolade for lifetime achievement in arts and culture. They will accept the awards on 7 February, the eve of Culture Day.

Using a minimalist and elucidating style, Vouk, 82, has developed an original and influential poetic voice that speaks with restraint yet aesthetic sophistication, the Prešeren Fund said in announcing the winners on 4 December.

"In the search for rounded meanings, she collides with anguish, torment, pain and helplessness. Holistic positions are not safe havens, but are themselves subject to collapse and decomposition ... The poet is accompanied by the premonition that real truths remain outside established linguistic expressiveness."

Vouk, who is also a translator, has published eleven books of poetry, winning the 2002 Jenko Prize for best poetry collection in the past two years for Picture Description (Opis slike), and the Veronika Prize, the honour for the best poetry book of the year, in 2004 for Waves (Valovanje).

Neubauer, 94, has been featured in most major classical and modern ballets and has choreographed more than 80 pieces by Slovenian composers, as well as directed more than 30 operas and operettas (Tosca, Il Trovatore, Carmen, La Traviata, Gorenjska Nightingale, etc.) along with 15 plays in French.

He has also written more than 30 books and over 500 professional articles, and won several awards and honours, including in 2009 the Golden Order of Merit, conferred by Slovenia's president.

The jury noted that his efforts in numerous fields of art and culture have permanently enriched the Slovenian cultural landscape and enhanced Slovenia's reputation in the international arena. It also pointed out his contribution to opera translation.

Neubauer's career in ballet came on top of him finishing his medical studies in 1957. He received additional ballet and teacher training in Russia and the US.

During his career he led the Ljubljana Ballet house, Ljubljana Festival and the Maribor Opera House, and lectured at the Ljubljana Music Academy.

The Prešeren Fund board also announced the winners of the Prešeren Fund Prizes for individual accomplishments in the past three years.

These are going to poet Miljana Cunta, actress Jana Zupančič, mezzo-soprano Nuška Drašček, comic book artist Ciril Horjak, film director and screenwriter Sara Kern, and graphic designer Tomato Košir.

The prizes bearing the name of Slovenia's greatest poet, France Prešeren (1800-1849), are presented annually on the eve of Culture Day, a public holiday marking the anniversary of Prešeren's death.

Last year the Prešeren Prizes went to Ema Kugler, a film and video maker, performer and costume designer, and painter Herman Gvardjančič.

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