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Fashioned after dances surrounding Cracow, the old royal capital of Poland, the Krakowiak (Cracovienne) national dance is an improvised group dance characterized by its lively syncopated tempo, vibrant costumes, frequent clicking of heels, and mutual partner chasing. The dance often incorporates Cracow’s rich historical traditions by referencing typical symbols such as the St. Mary trumpet call, the Lajkonik, and the region’s inherent love of horses.
The regional dance of the Eastern Cracovians is attributed to the eastern subdivision of Cracow, the old royal capital of Poland. The dance consists of choreographies reminiscent of traditional folk styles with its assorted compilation of tempos, songs, waltzes, lifts, and polkas.
Podhale, located in the foothill of the Tatra mountains, is often referred to as the “Polish highlands” and is known for its unique, rich, and emotional art often romanticized in Polish folk. The highlander culture is commonly referenced with highly accentuated violins, distinct highlander singing reminiscent of mountain echoes, and physically dexterous, protective shepherds carrying their hatchets. Podhale is characterized with solo dancer heel clicks, short steps, and defined sequences, only to have pairs embrace into a dance on the final fragment.
Beskid Żywiecki attributes to the folk dances of Poland’s southern mountaineers located in the Żywiec Beskid mountains. Performed in a mixture of pairs, solo, or groups, this dance is characterized with leading male dancers showing off their acrobatics, intricate footwork, deep knee bends, jumps, and crawls to their female counterparts. The most prevalent Żywiec dances include Siustany, Obyrtka, Kon, Kolo, Hajduk, and Sarna, which involve a collective of songs and calls.
Beskid Śląski attributes to the folk dances of Poland’s southern mountaineers located in the Silesian Beskid mountains. Perceived as distanced partner dances, groups of pairs perform predominantly opposite to a partner with momentary embraces in the form of turns, fast waltzes, and polkas. Characteristics of the dance include stationary fast turns, intricate leg movements, hair flips, and rhythmic stamping, all opposite to their respective partner or group.
Nowy Sącz, one of the oldest cities in the Lesser Poland Province situated at an old trade route intersection, has dances that commonly entwine elements of highlander, Krakowiak, Silesian, and Austro-Hungarian cultures. The dynamic dances are known for their colorful folk costumes, compilations of fast tempo melodies, boisterous sztajerek, energetic polkas, squats, hops, and physically dexterous men showing off.
Pszczyna, one of the larger cities of the Silesian province, boasts many unique dances which are considered to be highly influenced by Germanic cultures. Featuring compilations of slow and fast tempo melodies, waltzes, group play, and an assortment of pairs or sometimes groups of three, some of the most popular dances of this region are the Trojak, Mietlorz, Zajaczek, and Golabek.
Located at the Czechia boarder, the town of Cieszyn is situated on the old “Amber road” trading route. Due to the international exposure, many adopted Hungarian elements can be recognized in the unique costumes, and significant dances of the ‘Szot Madziar’ and ‘Czardasz’. Danced predominantly in pairs, the dance is characterized with its slower tempos, fancy footwork, promenades, spins, and lively polkas.
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Situated in the eastern part of Poland, the Lublin region is famous for its dynamic dances. The most typical dances of this region are Mach, Polka from Biłgoraj, Cygan, Folk Waltz, and Oberek. These are presented in the form that was artistically adapted for stage performance. Colorful original costumes are still used in the Lublin region during wedding ceremonies and special village activities.
Łowicz, a town situated in central Poland, is commonly associated with the national dance of the Oberek, as well as with the polka, klapok, and chodzony. Performed in groups of pairs dressed in characteristic rich folk costumes, the dances are known by their array of tempos, mazurka rhythmics, accentuated steps, whirling circles, and the characteristic ‘oberek’ step. In addition, despite it originating from the Kujawy region, the romantic national dance of the Kujawiak commonly precedes Łowicz dances in order to highlight the contrast between the two styles
Kaszuby (Kashubia) is a unique region located in northwestern Poland, which not only touches the Baltic Sea, but is known as a Lakeland throughout. Being reminiscent of a typical fishing town, the dance and music style commonly imitates waves while illustrating the work, traditions, and play of the Kashubians, an ethnic Slavic group that speaks their own language. Typical dances are the Szewc, Kùflôrz, Cepôrz, Marëszka, Dzëk, Wôltôk, Nasza nënka, Òwcôrz, and Kòséder.
These dances and songs from central Poland are famous for their dynamic and original dances and tunes, as well as a large variety of dance styles. The suite contains the most typical dances of Opoczno region such as Tramblanka, Oberek and Polkas. These were danced at family and seasonal celebrations, as well as Sunday dances "potańcówka", where no food was served for the sole purpose of satisfying the urge to dance.
Located in the southeastern part of Poland, the Podkarpackie region has three different groups of citizens from Łańcut, Przeworsk and Rzeszów, each having their own costume. The dances have characteristic styles, where there is a wealth of dance steps unknown in other regions. An example can be their polka variations, where over one hundred of them have been identified by Polish folklore specialists. Besides their more notable polkas, other dynamic and boisterous dances such as sztajerek and obereks are also incorporated.
Considered the oldest Polish national dance, the Polonaise is a walking dance where pairs are led along curved and straight lines by a dance leader in an elegant manner. Despite its humble beginnings as a peasant dance, the Polonaise has been elevated to become a dance of nobility, and an emblem of Polish culture.
The Mazur is regarded as one of Poland’s top national dances, where it can be characterized by the mazurka rhythmic (triple metre), accents on the second and third beat of the bar, and its lively tempo. The dance gained popularity across ballrooms of Europe during the 19th century, and is commonly performed alongside Frederic Chopin’s Mazurkas. A key step of the Mazur can be described as fast walking strides, incorporated flat leaps, as well as heel clicks and improvised dance formations.
In the late 19th and early 20th century, colorful urban folklore was on the rise in larger Polish cities. From the outskirts of the city, inhabited predominantly by the working class, comes this lively and humorous dance. Town Polka reflects the joyful atmosphere of the Saturday dance parties with the young cocky men vying for the attention of the flirtatious girls.
As tradition for partaking in the ‘World Festival of Polonia Folk Groups Rzeszów’, the dance ensemble has had to numerous times represent Canada with a dance of its selection. As shown in the photos, these included dances inspired from Acadian culture, Cowboy line dancing, and most recently, Quebec’s Quadrille. The featured Quadrille costumes were inspired by great Canadian symbols; including a man’s RCMP uniform along with a maple leaf inspired woman’s dress (created by Mrs Genowefa (Jenny) Zubelewicz).
Polanie embarked on a joint dance project with ‘Vykrutas Ukrainian Dance’ to perform ‘Pan Hospodar’, a dance originating from the Volhynia region of Ukraine. The dance style is characterized by its energy, colourful costumes, jumps, leg kicks, and lively arms. The featured costumes are unfortunately unauthentic, and only Volyn inspired costume elements from multiple Polish regions.
All of the above repertoires could not have been achieved without Polanie's exceptionally talented Artistic Directors, whom we are all extremely thankful for.