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Oberek Dance Workbook
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Oberek Dance Workbook
Courtesy of R. Cwieka
The following is an exerpt from R. Cwieka's
Oberek Dance Workbook

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About 1750 the names "mazur", "mazurek" more often made their appearance in musical literature soon to be followed by "oberek" and "kujawiak".3  During this time however an "Oberek" was more often known as "okragly", "wyrwas, "overtas" "drobny" whose root meanings are "round", "whirl", "turn", small respectively -- all indicate some round, fast, turning dance.
People called this type of dance, at this time and almost up to the present, "Mazur" or "mazurek".  Only in the 19th century did the term "mazur" come to mean quite a different type of dance from the "obertas - oberek".
People may not have known what to call these dances but by the end of the 18th century all these musical dance forms were used on the Polish stage in the ballet as representatives of a Polk Folk National Culture. 4
From the 19th century to our time there really isn’t much doubt about how the dance was and is done. At the turn of the 19th century there were two elements whose relative importance determines the dance form or variant. Those elements were the opening running of the couples, i.e. partners are side by side and the turning of the couples in closed position, facing each other. The tempo is bright and fast.
When emphasis is heavily upon the running then we have the Mazur variant; if solely upon the closed couple turnings then we have what we choose to call the “Oberek-Mazur” or perhaps Mazur-Obertas or Obertas-Mazur. If the Mazur element is weaker – then, Obertas-Mazurek.
At the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century we have this Obertas-Mazur among the peasant people of Central Poland. (Continued)


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