The Krakowiak is a fast, syncopated Polish dance in duple time from the region of Krakow and Little Poland. This dance is known to imitate horses, the steps mimick their movement, for horses were well loved in the Krakow region of Poland for their civilian as well as military use. In terms of its choreography, the krakowiak is set for several couples, among whom the leading male dancer sings and indicates the steps. According to the description in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the krakowiak is directed by the leading man from the first pair. As they approach the band, "the man, tapping his heels or dancing a few steps, sings a melody from an established repertory with newly improvised words addressed to his partner. The band follows the melody, and the couples move off in file and form a circle (with the leading couple back at the band). Thereafter verses are sung and played in alternation, the couples circulating during the played verses.
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: Oberek
The Oberek, also called Obertas or Ober, is a lively Polish dance. The name "Oberek" is derived from "obracać się" which in Polish means "to spin". This dance consists of many lifts and jumps and is performed at a much quicker pace than the Polish Waltz. You can find out more about the Oberek HERE.
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: Mazur
The Mazurka (in Polish, Mazurek). Polish folk dance in triple meter, usually at a lively tempo, and with an accent on the second or third beat:
The Polonaise is a dignified ceremonial dance in 3/4 time, frequently employing dotted rhythms, that often opened court balls in the 17th – 19th century. It likely began as a warrior's triumphal dance and had been adopted by the Polish court as a formal march as early as 1573. The dancers promenaded with gliding steps accented by bending the knee slightly on every third step. It often appeared in ballets, and it was used as a musical form by composers such as George Frideric Handel, Ludwig van Beethoven, and especially Frédéric Chopin, whose piano polonaises were martial and heroic.
Zofia Stryjeńska, 1927
The Krakowiak features an interesting dance step known as the Holubiec.
The Kujawiak is in triple meter and fairly slow. The dance usually involves couples walking gracefully in a quarter-note rhythm, on slightly bended knees, with relaxed turns and gently swaying. The first reference to a kujawiak appeared in 1827. Folk names for the dance include 'sleepy' and 'lulling'. Composers who have written for this dance include Henryk Wieniawski. It is often lyrical and calm (supposedly representing the Kujawy landscape), and usually in a minor key.
One great thing about being Polish is having the opportunity to enjoy great dancing, either as a spectator or as a participant at the many festivals and parties we like to attend. Here are a few wonderful examples. Many more videos can be viewed thoughout this website.
to view pics and vidz of the Zatańczmy Polish Folk Dance Concert
November 19, 2011
St. Ignatius High School Breen Center for the Performing Arts
2008 West 30th Street
Traditional Polish Dance - Polski Taniec Ludowy
Some of PoloniaMusic.com's photos of Polish folk dancers are now part of a permanent display in the newly renovated Applebees Restaurant on Walden Ave. in Cheektowaga, N.Y. The photos are intended as a tribute to local dance troupes, especially the Harmony Polish Folk Ensemble and the Polish Heritage Dancers of Western New York, that work so hard to promote our Polish heritage. If you would like to read the Am-Pol Eagle article, CLICK HERE.
Thank you, dancers!
The recently remodeled Applebees Restaurant at 1785 Walden Avenue in Cheektowaga, New York now displays photographs of the Polish Heritage Dancers of WNY and Polish Harmony Folk Ensemble on some of its walls. Dancers from the Lechowia Polish Dance Ensemble from Toronto, Ontario are also featured.
The Kujawiak – the dance of the Kujawy region – was originally danced with a calm dignity and simplicity, in a smooth, flowing manner. The couples spun around in a seemingly endlessly rotating circle and gently stamped their feet from time to time. The melody of the dance is often compared to the endless and peaceful landscapes of the region. The Kujawiak was typically the last dance of the evening.
The dance dates back to 1827. In the Kujawy Region, folk dances grouped under the label of the Kujawiak have different names, depending on the particular figures used in them:
Ksebka (to oneself) – with turns to the left;
Odsibka (from oneself) – with turns to the right;
The village musical leader or the Best Man at Weddings decided the changes in rhythm and direction.
Famed ethnographer, folklorist and composer, Oskar Kolberg, knew the dance very well. He wrote down over 1,000 melodies and songs from Kujawy in two volumes describing the folklore of this area.
The Kujawiak reached peak popularity in the 19th and 20th Centuries. To learn more about the region's costumes and embroidery, CLICK HERE.