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Polish Mazur-Mazurka Dance Resources
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Polish Mazur-Mazurka Dance Resources
Courtesy of R. Cwieka
Mazur-Mazurka Dance Resources:


The following is an exerpt from R. Cwieka's
The Basic Elements of the Mazur
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EARLY THEORIES OF THE ORIGIN OF THE MAZUR
“The Mazur is sheer intoxication.”

This is perhaps the simplest way of describing what is one of the most beautiful of the world’s dances. At its highest level the Mazur has its own purpose—the realization of Beauty. In this sense it is nothing less than the practice of an Aesthetic Yoga. It is no accident that the Polish National Anthem is a Mazur, and that at New Year’s Eve, the Poles play another Mazur tune. For many, it is the Alpha and Omega of Polish existence. How did this come to be? What is the Mazur? How do we dance it? To answer these questions and others we now begin a journey and humbly invite the reader on this adventure.
Because of Poland’s international position, the most easily available information about Polish Dances comes from the pens of non-Poles who used either no data or incomplete data.  Thus we shall first consider these less reliable opinions.
During the 16th century “Polish Music” and “Polish Dances” were written by European composers. Most of this composed music has little to do with actual Polish Music or Dance, as it was customary at this time for composers to simply “invent” the character of their music.
Tobia Norlind, the musicologist responsible for what is sometimes called, “The Theory of Separated Proportions, Proportios,” were written by German 16th century composers. They contained two parts: a slow and fast part in 3/4 time.

“Up to 1630 the rhythm of this dance evidences no individual characteristics. After this date, the second part became similar to the sarabande, and finally developed into the mazurka. Thus the oldest mazurka dated back to 1640.”  

Notice that this is a study of German music and also that it is only about music entitled “Dance”: if anything at all, this is only stylized dance music, i.e. for listening and not dancing. The conclusion of the above quotation is that Mazur music comes from the developed work of German composers. Was this “developed work” done by Germans? If so, then one would expect the Mazur to develop in the Germanies and that the Mazur would be a German dance. But it isn’t. It is a pure product of the Poles of the East Central European experience.

During the 16th century there was a division of both European Dance and Music into slow and fast. The slow dances were more ceremonial than the fast dances. These fast dances were often running dancing which is what the Mazur is. It is a simple thing to say that a 19th century running dance had for its predecessor any other running dance from an earlier time. This is often the intent of remarks based upon similarity of music rhythms. One claim of this type takes us back to 1602.
A rather spectacular piece of musical dance research (still as yet unconfirmed by the world’s experts) has recently been reported by Professor Dr. Czernak of Prague University. He claims to have discovered definite Mazur rhythms and melodies in the compositions of a Polish composer dating from 1477! If this is true then the dance in some form may pre-date the 16th century!
Musicologists have found many examples of typical Mazur rhythms in 16th and 17th century musical collections inside and outside of Poland.
During this period of time 1600-1700 (and even later), music was often written without tempo markings so that the two “Polish” dance forms, namely, the “Taniec Polski” and the “Mazur” may have been danced to one and the same piece of music depending upon the tempo.

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The following is an exerpt from R. Cwieka's
Polish Mazur - Mazurka Dance Manuals

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1897  J.  WOROBECKI

Józef Worobecki was a dance teacher in the city of Lwów. He apparently taught or learned dancing from one Kornel Kawecki, who also taught dancing in Lwów. They may then represent a span of twenty to forty years of dancing in Lwów. His instruction for the Mazur is contained in his publication of 1897. 
In the sub-title of this work the author states that this in the intellectual form of a lecture. This is a drawback since items are not clearly delineated. He like many dance teachers of his time was teaching children. He states how difficult the Mazur is to learn and dance for both students and teachers of the Dance. He also warns the adults, of the children who are learning the Dance, to be careful in their learning of the steps. The adults are to reinforce their learning at home in order not to have repeat the same dance material in future classes.
He often points out what he considers to be some bad or incorrect dancing Poland practices which some teachers do.

Below are some of his observations or rules: 

1Never begin the Mazur with the left foot-leg.
2In a proper dance Salon or at a Ball do not stamp. This is only done by the common people. In short, do not dance wildly.

“Tupniécie jest koniecznem w Mazurze, przy hołupcach, kogucikach, przy tych ostatnich można sobie pozwolić i na silniejsze uderzenia, choćby i całą stopą, ale żeby ciągle stukać i chrymać, to nie ma sensu i jest wstrętnem.”  

  Stamping occurs at endings in the Mazur: with the Hołubiec, the Koguciks. With these you are allowed to make strong stamps, even with the entire foot but to continuously pound [the floor] harshly, that is senseless and is repugnant. 

3When doing the Hołubiec Couple Turn do not violently pull or jerk your partner around. 
4One should not have one’s arms raised nor strongly lean forward or do the steps so that one’s soles can be seen.
5The Promenading of couples should not done more than twice around the room.
6The man should always lead his partner so that she is a half-step ahead of him.
7The Mazur is not to be hopingly or jumpingly done but is to be fluently done.

The author states that there is one absolutely necessary step-movement upon which the entire Mazur depends. He gives it no special name—he states that Kawecki has correctly described it with a seven-syllablic phrase, namely, “Jestem — dama,— pta — sze—czek.” The syllables are not important, rather it is supposed to be a timing scheme, covering two measures of music, but to be counted as 1, 3 — 4, 5, 6. You will notice that the “2” of the first measure of music is missing. (Remember, that Mazur music is a triple rhythm, either in 3/8ths or in 3/4 time.)

Let us now turn to this puzzling step. We do so in fragments of the original quotation...continued

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