History of the Rogalin Dance Troupe
In the fall of 1969, a small group of society members got together in the interest of providing their own, as well as future generations, of children with the opportunity to gain experiences and knowledge in Polish heritage, tradition and customs through the medium of dance. Led by first director Edward Bzura and President Victor Targonski, the newly established committee established PRCUA Society #162’s first dance group. Past directors have included Mr. C. ‘Fritz’ Bosman, and Mrs. JoAnn Holicki.
Mrs. Angeline Cislo was hired to be the first dance instructor and held the position until May, 1975. Mrs. Cislo provided the children with experiences in Polish dance, song and language, as well as a variety of other dance styles.
A Mother’s Club was also organized to oversee the youth activities. The first officers of the club included President Mary Ann Kozlowski, Secretary Virginia Bzura and Treasurer Helen Dombrowski.
In September of 1975, Mrs. Janet (DelGrosso) Vilag joined the group as the new dance instructor. Mr. Victor Targonski was the director, who held the position for the next couple years. Mrs. Dolores Kret took over as director until 1985. Mrs. Helen Sawicki (1985 to 1993), Mrs. Yvonne Burza (1993 to 1996), Andrea Schmidt (1997 to 1998), Linda Mikus (1998 to 2004), and Kendra Akers (2004 to 2007) have previously held the position of director with the Troupe. Our current director is Michelle Stechschulte.
The dance program has undergone several changes as the years have passed. Classes and recitals were held on the first floor in the hall in the early days. We currently have a dance studio on the second floor, and perform our annual recitals in the large auditoriums of local schools. Known as the Wyandotte Dancers for years, Rogalin Dance Troupe was selected as the group’s new official name in 1997. A contest was held for any dancer to name the group, Robert Vilag submitted the name Rogalin. Rogalin is a village in Poland, which is located on a river that has the largest strand of oak trees in the country.
While names and faces have changed over the years, the pride in our Polish heritage has remained our primary focus. We have become known for our quality performances at festivals, luncheons, dinners, parades, civic and church programs. Dancing at the Detroit Tiger’s annual Polish Night, first at Tiger Stadium and now at Comerica Park, has been a tradition since the early years. The group has twice participated in the Chicago Youth Festival in 1973 and
1998, and were honored to have the privilege to dance in the National PRCUA Inaugural Ball. We’ve entertained and honored the 1974 Polish national hockey team, and performed for Pope John Paul II. The group has even danced on ice, having the opportunity to do so during the 1974 Wyandotte Icetravaganza. We were proud to host a Wigilia for the local area on December 20, 2003. We also had the privilege to have been participants in the 1st annual Polish Folk Dance Festival, held in Troy Michigan on March 1, 2008.
Through it all, memories and wonderful experiences have been the result. The instructors, directors and parents have supported and offered the guidance necessary for our youth to develop pride and love for their culture and heritage. Many of our former dancers are now proud parents of current dancers, and understand the importance and value of instilling our heritage to their children. The pride of our heritage has and will continue to grow through the years to come.
Special thanks to the founding committee and all of those who were and are currently part of our heritage. Thank you for helping us grow. A sincere thank you to the PRCUA Women’s Division of Chicago for making Polish dance and language schools possible in order to provide us with the means to instill Polish Heritage in our children.
Bog Zaplac (God Bless)
Text from the Rogalin Dance Troupe Website