Sunday, September 28, 2008

Traditional Polish Folk Dance and its Importance to the Growth and Continuity of the Detroit Polonia.

One of the significant cultural contributions of Polish Americans to the greater society and its own continuity is traditional Polish dance. There is a whole subculture of activity involved in carrying on the very fine and colorful tradition of Polish dance. First of all there needs to be an infrastructure of some kind to carry on this tradition which is in the form of Polish dance schools steeped in the history, tradition and skills required to perform in the manner of “the dance” of the “old” country, Poland.

Next, there needs to be women that are familiar enough with the traditional costumes of the region in Poland that the dance they are involved in wear for the dance. More often than not many of the women have the sewing skills necessary to make these costumes from scratch. But, there is a whole industry shooting up that provides traditional Polish costumes that come from Poland or other parts of the world that provide inexpensive hand sewn costumes.

The next two components are the resources human and material to make this tradition a reality. First of all it takes a significant amount of money to pay for the dance lessons, costumes, shoes and transportation to and from the dance classes and recitals. But, behind all of these resources is the real contribution that makes it all happen which is the commitment on the part of the parents that pay, spend time, support and spread the word about this important cultural contribution. Don’t forget the children because without them there is no future for traditional Polish dance. They have to make the commitment in time, energy and enthusiasm for this important cultural endeavor. In the beginning it is, “Do I have to? But it rapidly becomes an activity that provides community, continuity, accomplishment and excitement for the children.

PRCUA Halka Dancers

Polish traditional culture has two distinct styles of folkloric dance – one from the nobility and one from the peasantry. In Poland there are nearly 40 distinctive cultural regions – each with their own specific dances, melodies and songs as well as folklore. The five “national” dances of Poland, recognized throughout Poland as being quintessentially “Polish”, include the Mazur and the Polonez from the nobility tradition, and the Oberek and the Kujawiak from the peasantry, and the Krakowiak, a courtship dance from Southern Poland.
Both men and women wear leather shoes with pressed-in ornaments, called the kierpce, and heavy woolen hand-knit socks. The men’s wool trousers have a pom-pom on each leg and some yarn decoration. Their vests may be either bright red or blue and are decorated with tassels and their hats are either white or black wool.

PRCUA Halka Dancers

The women’s dress features wool skirts that have flowery patterns of roses on green, red, blue, black or white background. They wear white blouses finished with lace, tight ornamental velvet vests of burgundy, green, blue or black with a peplum of little overlapping tabs, and strings of coral beads on their necks. The vests and beads are tied with ribbons, and women wear flowered wool shawls.

PRCUA Halka Dancers

There are a number of traditional Polish dance schools and troupes in the Metro-Detroit Area. Just a couple of them are the PRCUA Halka Dancers and the Wawel Dance Ensemble. Here is just a snapshot of continuity of these young and gifted traditional Polish dancers from the current era as well as an earlier time in the evolution of this cultural GEM of the Polish Community. Many of these photos are current photos of the PRCUA Halka Dancers taken at the Michigan State Fair on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2006 @ 12:00 Noon in the Family Grove.

PRCUA Halka Dancers

If you have interest in helping the dance troupe or have children of dance age you can contact them at:
Halka Dancers PRCUA
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Activities Building
Ages 3 to 17
Rita Cerankowski (313) 891-2403

PRCUA Halka Dancers

PRCUA Halka Dancers

Last generation Polish Folk Dancer Alfreda nee Grygiel and current generation Polish Folk Dancer from the PRCU Halka Dancers

Polish Folk Dancers -- Alfreda Grygiel front center 1961

L to R Marsha Lewandowski and Alfreda Grygiel Circa 1956

Bottom row L to R Marsha Lewandowski and Alfreda Grygiel with other Polish Dancers in Traditional Dress with Felician Nuns at Our Lady Queen of Apostles Polish Roman Catholic Church Circa 1956

Alfreda Grygiel in Traditional Polish Dance Dress in her backyard on Caniff on the Detroit/Hamtramck Border. Alfreda's Mother Frances Grygiel was a Master Seamstress and made all of Alfreda's beautiful clothes and costumes from scratch July 1959

Annual Polish Constitution Day Parade on Belle Isle starting at the Scott Fountain, May 8, 1961. Polish Dance Troupe in Traditional dress from the Cracow region of Poland. Alfreda Grygiel in back 2nd from left of the tall girls, smiling with dark hair

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Blogger Nalini said...

Folk dance represents our tradition. It is our responsibility to give importance for the growth of folk dance. Children are looking pretty in their traditional dress and also they are looking enthusiastic.

Thursday, November 06, 2008 6:14:00 AM  

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