Today, April 29th, 2023, we celebrate the International Day of Play. On this occasion, we bring a story about an exceptional person in the world of dance, who is connected to our city. We are talking about Petar Stojić, born on September 8th, 1890, in the family of innkeeper Rista Stojić and his wife Mirosanda, in Kraljevo, where he received his primary education. He started dancing as an amateur in 1910, and he acquired his initial knowledge of dances and games in Budapest, and then continued to complete dancing courses with excellent success in Vienna and Berlin. He studied ballroom dancing and ballet in Dresden and Munich, and then trained in Warsaw, Zurich, and Paris. He finally decided to devote himself to dancing and acting in Berlin and in a relatively short time managed to appear on the stage of Theatre H. Bernhard. Having won the favour of the audience and his colleagues, he received a concession from this theatre to hold his first courses in Germany as an acting teacher.

Family of the innkeeper of Rista Stojić, Kraljevo, photograph, 14 x 9 cm, owned by the Jakić family from Kraljevo, documentation of the Historical Collection of the National Museum Kraljevo.

After that, he returned to his homeland and founded a dilettante theatre troupe in Kraljevo and started an acting course. The dance school “Tancšul” is mentioned in the royal press. After Kraljevo, in the mid-twenties, he opened an acting school in Belgrade, on Terazije, which was called “Casino-Studio” in 1927, and in the early thirties, the Student Acting School “Stojić Studio”. He opened a similar school in Zemun in 1937, and he held dancing and dancing courses in Vrbas, Srbobran, Skopje, Kula, Sombor, Bečej, Dubrovnik, Vrnjačka Banja, and other cities. He also opens dance halls where both beginners and connoisseurs of dance come. At the dances, Stojić’s students took a public exam and trained to dance at large and elegant balls. Participants had 40 hours of training, while students and officers had a special discount. Among his great merits is that, after the First World War, he was able to interest the widest strata of the population in modern dance, to alleviate prejudices about modern dances and to attract the attention of journalists to report on the subject more often.

Petar Stojić’s dance studio in Terazije, after 1927, Belgrade, photograph, 14 x 9 cm, owned by the Jakić family from Kraljevo, Documentation of the Historical Collection of the National Museum Kraljevo.

On Stojić’s initiative, expert teachers joined together and in 1921 the Association of Dance Teachers was founded in Belgrade, in which he was elected as the first president. The association got in touch with similar associations in other countries. As a delegate of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, he participated in the First Congress of the Union of Choreographers in Paris on September 5th, 1924, where he was elected as a choreographer’s advisor. In the same year, he became a permanent member and correspondent of the Academy of Dance Teachers in Paris. The following year, he took the academic exam at this academy and received a diploma of acting teacher. On May 12th, 1925, he became a member and correspondent of the Association of Viennese Dance Teachers “Gremium”. On October 20th, 1925, as a representative member of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, he went to Alexandria, Egypt. Already in 1926, he became a member of the newly founded trade union of dance teachers in Paris and a member of the German dance teachers in Berlin. At the Third International Congress of the Union of Choreographers in Paris, he was elected as a member of the jury. On that occasion, in addition to the academy of modern games, games of different nations were also shown. Thanks to him, for the first time, our folk cars were presented at such a high and professional level, which the French and English especially liked. He was elected vice president of the International Union of Choreographers of the Paris Academy of Dance in 1930. In October 1932, he participated in the Games Congress in Zurich. He worked as a part-time teacher at the Military Academy and the Quartermaster Academy.

Cover of the book by Petra R. Stojić “Fundamentals of Folk and Modern Dances”, first edition, 1927, Belgrade.

He wrote and published a handbook for dance amateurs (Cyrillic and Latin) “Fundamentals of Modern and Folk Dances: Dance, Social Modern and Folk Dances: Dance” which has undergone a second edition. For this publishing venture, he was awarded the diploma D’honneur at the Congress of Choreographers in May 1927 in Paris. The manual was intended for school, falconry and singing societies. He is the recipient of awards from the National Union of French Teachers, Swiss Choreographers, the Union of Associations of Dance Teachers, the Association of Yugoslav Dance Teachers, etc.

He was married to Angelina Stojić and died in Belgrade on February 3rd, 1963. His own brother was the cyclist Stojan Stojić, who was shot in Kraljevo in October 1941.

Mirjana Savić
historian, museum advisor
National Museum Kraljevo

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