Cracovia's repertoire of dances includes Poland's five
national dances (Mazur, Polonez, Kujawiak, Krakowiak,
Waltz) as well as modern dance, contemporary dance
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: Waltz/Walc
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: Polka
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: The Kaszuby
Cracovia Polish Dance Ensemble: Krakowiak
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.
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!
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.
Southern Poland features the culture of the Gorals (Polish highlanders).
Polish Dance - - from Reymont's "The Peasants" (Chłopi)
One dance followed another in rapid succession, and with no interval between them. As each new dance was struck up, new dancers directly sprang forward, erect as a forest, swift of advance as a gale of wind, and loudly the stamping feet thundered afar, and shouts of merriment echoed through the house, while the onset went on, wild, mad, stormy, and earnest as a struggle for life and death!
Ah! how they danced!
Those Cracoviennes, with their frolicsome hop-skip-and-jump measures, and the quick lilt of their clean-cut, tinkling, metallic tunes; and the terse ditties, full of fun and freedom, with which, like the spangled girdles of the peasantry who made them, they are so brightly studded-- those tunes welling with joyous dashing melody, redolent of the strong, abounding, audacious savour of youth in sportful pursuit of the sweet thrilling emotions that tell of the heyday in the blood!
And those Mazurs, long-drawn-out as the paths which streak the endless plains, wind-clamorous and vast as the endless plains they streak: lowly, yet heaven-kissing; melancholy and bold, magnificent and sombre, stately and fierce: genial, warlike, full of discordances, like that peasants' nature, set in battle array, united as a forest and rushing to dance with such joyful clamours and wonderful strength as could attack and overcome ten times their number, nay, conquer, sweep away, trample down, the whole of a hostile world, nor reck though they themselves be doomed, and fall, but still carry on the dance after death, still stamping as in the Mazur-- still crying out aloud: "Oy dana dana!"
And oh, those Obertases!--short of rhythm, vertiginous, wild and frantic, warlike and amorous, full of excitement mingled with dreamy languor and notes of sorrow; throbbing with hot blood, brimming over with geniality and kinliness, in a sudden hailstorm: affectionate voices, dark blud glances, springtime breezes, and fragrant wafts from blossoming orchards, like the song of fields in the young year; making tears and laughter to burst forth at the same time, and the heart to utter its lay of joy, and the longing soul to go beyond the vast fields around her, beyond the far-off forests, and soar dreaming into the world of All Things, and sing ecstatically the burden, "Oy dana, dana!"
And all these dances, beyond the power of words to describe, thus followed one after the other, that our peasantry might make merry in season!
Vol.1, pp.234-235; Translated from the original Polish by Michael H. Dzierwicki, Reader of English Literature at the University of Cracow
The origins of the Krakow Folk Costume can be traced to the Renaissance time, but the current version started to be quite popular in the beginning of the 18th century.
A Cracow costume is the only peasants' attire which was promoted to the rank of a Polish national costume. This decision was made on patriotic grounds, with the Cracow's peasants’ participation in the Kościuszko Uprising as a main factor. Even the Uprising's leader, Tadeusz Kościuszko, used to wear the Cracow costume (so he dressed "like a peasant") just so that he would not be recognised by Russian spies. Kościuszko's popularity contributed to the popularisation of the Cracow costume among the Poles in general. Some of the costume's elements were applied to the uniforms worn by participants of the 19th century national uprisings. This popularity of the Cracowian costume, especially in its female version, was then reinforced by the Cracow’s intelligence of the Young Poland (Młoda Polska) movement, who promoted it as a new fashion.
- source: The State Ethnographical Museum in Warsaw