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Ilona Peuker - Biography

Ilona Peuker was a brilliant artist, creative master, teacher and technician of Rhythmic Gymnastic. She was born in Budapest, Hungary, on July 29th, 1915 and she passed away in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 13th, 1995.

Ilona Peuker. Hungary, 1941.

Ilona Peuker created her own school of movement and she made Rhythmic Gymnastic known in Brazil. She implanted it in the whole of the national territory, offering hundreds of courses to gymnasts, professionals in education and physical education.

At first, her family was displeased by her professional choice. They saw their daughter, an intelligent girl, becoming an outstanding professional in several other areas. But Ilona was relentless in her decision of dedicating herself to movement and she founded, initially in her parents residence, a dancing school which functioned with much success from 1937 until 1944 - in that year Russia invaded Hungary and the family was forced to transfer temporarily to Austria.

Wedding of Véghely Ilona and Emil Peuker in the Lutheran Church. Ilona enters
the church accompanied by her father Véghely Dezso and her mother Véghely
Erzsébet, who, in the background, is holding the veil of the dress,
Budapest, Hungary, July 9th, 1941.

In 1941 Véghely Ilona married the Austrian Emil Peuker, at which point she changed her nationality to austrian (in those days a Hungarian woman married to a foreigner would automatically take over the husband`s nationality, giving up her own nationality). She then became known as Ilona Peuker. Two children were born from this wedlock: Anna Maria Peuker, born still in Budapest, in 1944, and Peter Peuker, born in Vienna in 1950.

Véghely Ilona in Budapest on the day of
her wedding, Hungary, July 9th, 1941.

Dona Ilona, as she became known in Brazil, worked previously and always with much success, in Hungary, Germany and Austria. In this last country she was the technician of the national team and they won olympic and world titels.

Ilona Peuker and both of her children : Anna Maria
and Peter arriving in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, 1953.

Dona Ilona established the first Brazilian Team of rhythmic gymnastic, Grupo Unido de Ginastas (GUG), in 1956, and she organized the first championship of this modality both in Rio de Janeiro and in Brazil.

Her professional career was determined by her love for movement and for artistic expression. Her students had the priviledge of sharing with her the magical moment of the creation of her choreographies.

Above all, Dona Ilona was an architect of movement. Her creational process was determined by a rare spatial notion and vision. In space, she outlined a trajectory of her choreographies. Her students would fill out this imaginary trajectory with movements. Among the many movements she would select some. For the gymnasts these moments of creation were unforgettable, they had contact with an unusual pleasure.

To work with Dona Ilona meant more than doing gymnastics, it was a profound apprenticeship bringing together movement, music, expression and experience. She formed human beings well beyond gymnasts. With her working method and her ample life experience, she taught how discipline and rigour involved in training can be used to achieve difficult objectives. If you excelled you could discover the pleasure of art and movement.

Beyond her demanding personality, Dona Ilona gave all her students and gymnasts the possibility to live with a creative, restless, friendly, curious mind, open to all influences, without losing the conducting axis of her school of movement. She taught that the natural line of movement should never be broken.

She demonstrated that the anti-natural movement makes the choreography inharmonous and like this, even if we don´t understand the reason, we don´t like what we are assisting.

In her gymnastic-school there was paid a special attention to the equipment. She considered it as an extension of the body of the gymnast to the point of melting with it. She repeated insistently during her trainings: "Sleep with the ball!"

Dona Ilona worked as a professor and technician in rhythmic gymnastics in Brazil from 1953 until 1975, when she finished her professional activities in this field.

Ilona and her husband, Emil Peuker, Brazil, 1973.

In the period between 1978 and l984, Ilona was President of the Technical Committee of Sportive Rhythmic Gymnastics of the recent created Brazilian Confederation of Gymnastics (CBG) having, in this period, realized her first official championship of the International Federation (FIG) in the country, the Championship Four Continents.

Though she never really has lost completely the link with sports, the professional experience of the Confederation was the last of her official activities connected with gymnastics.

However, Dona Ilona continued assisting the trainings of her closest gymnasts and collaborating with precious suggestions for the choreographies to be realized by them.

With her death Dona Ilona left an invaluable legate to Brazil. For the persons, who shared life with her, the legate was still bigger.

Today, the Brazilian Rhythmic Gymnastics has a big international notability and a big majority of the technicians of the country has been her gymnast, a gymnast of her gymnast, or gymnast of a gymnast, who has been one of her gymnasts.

Heloisa Frossard
Gymnast of GUG