When considering Polanie – past and future – the center of this ever-developing and ever-growing group has always been the youth. These kids are growing up in Polish families in Canada, and in many ways we are here providing them with an outlet to express that culture while at the same time being part of the multicultural community in Canada.
Our major goal when considering how Polanie will move forward is how to make it an easier process for today’s Polish-Canadian youth to connect with other Polish people growing up in different countries, as well as other kids from different cultures growing up here in Canada. They are very much a part of this new international community that exists today in a form that has never existed before – they have the opportunity to travel and see how other Polish kids are coping with growing up outside Poland, as well as having the chance to perform at home and connect with others of all nationalities that share one common love – dance.
A big part of moving forward with Polanie and making these traditions relevant to today’s life in Canada has been to develop things electronically. We have tried to make our online presence known and impactful. This way, we can reach not only a wider audience here in Calgary, but also world-wide. This gives the dancers a chance to connect with people all over, and see their efforts being appreciated and admired by a plethora of people that previously wouldn’t have had the chance to experience what they have to offer. We are already seeing how much this excites them and encourages them to grow as dancers and as members of the community.
Having other social media outlets such as Instagram or Twitter or Facebook means that for the first time the dancers can also have their own voice heard if they would so want. We are trying to make it accessible for them to be as much a part of the story and of the global discussion around Polanie as possible – something that wasn’t so readily available in previous years due to the underdevelopment of the technological side of our association until recently. This is something that we are very passionate about bringing up to standard and about maintaining into the future since it could have a bounty of positive effects for all those involved.
Speaking from personal experience, I know how much it means to my own daughter that she can show her grandmother in Poland exactly what she’s been up to through going on to our website where all the videos are accessible. It creates such a bonding experience between them to see this beautiful folk dance be passed on from generation to generation, and it fills my daughter with pride to be able to show off the dances that the group works so hard to perfect. And this experience isn’t limiting. All the dancers can share links online and extend their talents to their friends and family in that way. We are hoping that this way they can encourage others to join the group and build it up, or to come enjoy our shows and support all the hard work that these kids put into creating vibrant presentations to demonstrate some of our traditions.
And this is not a one-way road. Through participating in international competitions and talent shows in Calgary, our dancers are making connections and learning more about other cultures as well. This is all part of the multicultural experience that we in Canada are so lucky to have a chance to participate in. These bonds that might not have a chance to be formed in less diverse situations are invaluable and can make each individual richer. These also tend to happen at events where we have a variety of people attend and take interest in our cultural message – such as the Stampede or the Calgary Lilac Festival. It’s exciting to see first-hand what an impact an event like this can have on the group of those present. We are making it our goal to increase the group’s participation in these sorts of opportunities, and really become a part of the international scene here at home.
It isn’t easy growing up in a culture different from that of your parents, and Polanie is attempting to create a platform through which to create more connections, rather than to create more distance. Rather than having these kids feel that they are neither fully Polish nor fully Canadian we want them to know that they have the unique opportunity to belong to both communities, each beautiful in its own way, and that they can be richer for it. Through setting the plans to being a forerunner in international events in Calgary, and through creating a learning environment for dancers of a multitude of nations, Polanie is trying to find a way to bridge that gap between two worlds: where you’re from and where you are. Hopefully, we will continue to do this in an effective way that will allow further growth and development.