Our Przeworsk suite includes dances from the southeastern region of Poland. Crisscrossed by trade routes and shifting borders, this region is noted for its diversity of dances, five of which we will perform today. First is the polka Przeworska, often called the wsciekła or wild polka for its tight spins and slowly increasing tempo. Next is the Bandoska; a name derived from a Polish word for a migrant worker. Third is the Gacok, named for the region around the village Gac. The Żyd, or Jewish person, is a dance invented after watching Jewish communities dance, and finally is the Zmieniana, which comes from the word zmieniac or to change because partners change places in mid-dance.

The Polka Warszawska, or Old Warsaw Polka, is set in post World War I Warsaw and tells the story of farm boys who have come from the country side to the big city to have fun and dance with the local women. Being working class people, they poke fun at high society, dancing exaggerated parodies of the Tango and Waltz alongside their native Polkas.

Lajkonik Polish Dance Ensemble

These popular dances come from mountain range, Beskid Żywiecki. These distinctive dances are characterized by light footwork throughout as well as athletic stunts as the men attempt to outperform each other. Lajkonik’s costumes were made in Zywiec villages by local folk artists. Very characteristic for zywiec regions are intricately decorated leather shoes and belts.

Lajkonik Polish Dance Ensemble

Originating in Eastern Poland, these dances often have a Ukrainian influence in their music and style. Characterized by a variety of polkas, Białe Podlasie features a folk songs about life and love.

The Spisz region borders the Carpathian Mountains in the Tatry Range, just north of Slovakia, near the town of Niedzica. The culture here is affected by its proximity to Hungary and the dances show this influence.

Our suite of dances from the Cieszyn region reflect the diversity of the region. On the southwestern border of Poland, historically Cieszyn traded with Hungary, Germany, and other parts of Poland and eastern Europe. The first dance, the Cieszyniok, is a version of the traditional Polonez, but specific to Cieszyn. The next dance, the Polka Mazurka, combines the polka step with its bounce with the traditional Mazur step forming an interesting hybrid. Polka Szpacyr, the third dance, is a combination of walking polkas and flashy tricks by the men. Finaly, Szot Madziar comes from imitating Hungarian dances and military styles. Costumes for this dance were made by local artisans with lifetimes of experience in traditional garbs in Poland.

Lajkonik Polish Dance Ensemble

Our Mazur and Polonez represent how the nobility would have danced these two national dances. The Polonez is traditionally a parade dance, danced with dignity and poise, it was traditionally a way for the nobility to socialize and greet each other. Once done, the real dancing, the quick and graceful Mazur was danced. The Mazur is one of the most dramatic dances in Polish folk culture, characterized by a fast but smooth running step and sharp accent movements.

Dances, mostly polkas, from this southeastern part of Poland are very lively and dynamic and carry many humorous lyrics. The songs are teasing and quick, and the dancing energetic, spinning and sometimes tongue in cheek. These beautiful costumes include beautifully beaded vests, colorful skirts and represent the region’s Sunday best.

Two of Poland’s national dances, the Kujawiak and Oberek, are two sides of the same coin and often performed together. The slower of the two, Kujawiak is often called the “Lovers’ Dance”, and is known for its’ grace and beauty. The faster, the Oberek, embodies the energy that contrasts the Kujawiak, involving dazzling tricks and fast spins. Danced in our gorgeous costumes from Lowicz, the Kujawiak-Oberek is a showstopper.

The Mazovia suite incorporates a variety of dances from different regions in central Poland. Lajkonik performs dances from the Kurpie, Opoczno, Lowicz, and Kujawy regions, culminating in a lively Oberek, an energetic dance full of tricks, lifts, and quick spins common to all of these regions. The suite also includes a beautiful wedding tradition from Lowicz called Oczepiny, where the bride’s wedding headdress is replaced with the headscarf of a married woman. The Mazovia suite shows off the variety and commonalities of folkdances in central Poland.