BELOW: Popularly called the Land of a Thousand Lakes, Mazury more than deserves this name. Dotted with thousands of postglacial lakes amidst beautiful undulating countryside and forest, it attracts tourists from all over Poland and abroad.
Sailing on Lake Mikołajki in the Mazury Lake District
Ludowa Nuta performing Hej z góry z góry at Corpus Christi's Dożynki in Buffalo, New York
Polish folk music was collected in the 19th century by Oskar Kolberg, as part of a wave of Polish national revival. With the coming of the world wars and then the Communist state, folk traditions were oppressed or subsumed into state-approved folk ensembles. The most famous of the state ensembles are Mazowsze and Śląsk, both of which still perform. Though these bands had a regional touch to their output, the overall sound was a homogenized mixture of Polish styles. There were more authentic state-supported groups, such as Słowianki, but the Communist sanitized image of folk music made the whole field seem unhip to young audiences, and many traditions dwindled rapidly.
Polish dance music, especially the mazurka and polonaise, were popularized by Frederick Chopin, and they soon spread across Europe and elsewhere. These are triple time dances, while five-beat forms are more common in the northeast and duple-time dances like the krakowiak come from the south. The polonaise comes from the French word for Polish to identify its origin among the Polish aristocracy, who had adapted the dance from a slower walking dance called chodzony. The polonaise then re-entered the scene and became an integral part of Polish music.
Poland's five national dances
(Mazur, Polonez, Kujawiak, Krakowiak, Oberek), as well as modern dance, contemporary dance and ballet are all widely performed today throughout the Polonia community.