Czardasz ?l?ski (CHAHR-dahsh SHLON-skee), or Silesian Czardas, is a dance from the region of Cieszyn (CHYEH-shihn). Taking its influence form the Hungarian czardas it consists of 3 distinct melodies with varying tempos. Various forms of the czardas are also found in several other southern regions of Poland like Spisz (speesh) and Orawa (oh-RAH-vah). The locals of each of these regions adapted the dance to their liking and the results are an interesting blend of the two cultures. The czardasz from Cieszyn is no exception with its slow tempos and fancy footwork to the quick and lively polka sections.<ahref=”http://folkdance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Czardasz-Slaski_Page_12.jpg”><ahref=”http://folkdance.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Czardasz-Slaski_Page_31.jpg”>
Created in 2010 – Located on the border with the Czech Republic, in the south of Poland, the town of Cieszyn is directly on the trade route known as the “Amber road” and has therefore adopted the traditions of several cultures over the centuries. The dance known as Szot Madziar is one such dance that has been adopted from Hungarian folklore. The dance has become more and more popular in the Polish Folk community and has been included into the repertoire of many performing ensembles.
Created in 2000 – Located on the border with the Czech Republic, in the south of Poland, the town of Cieszyn is directly on the trade route known as the “Amber road” and has therefore adopted the traditions of several cultures over the centuries. The dance known as Szot Madziar is one such dance that has been adopted from the Hungarians. The steps and intricacies of this dance were shown to me by my teacher and mentor the renowned choreographer and Polish folk expert, Leokadia Magdziarz in the 1970s
Szpacyr Polka, considered a turning dance done in a circle, from the region of Śląsk (Silesia) is derived from the Polish word “Spacer” (SPAh-tsehr) which means to go for a walk or stroll. According to the well-known expert of the region, Janina Marcinkowa, who I had the opportunity to learn from in the early 1980’s, it was a social dance done by couples at gatherings throughout the whole region of Śląsk, from the mountaineers to the city folk. It is a combination of both a promenade and a polka, beginning with the stroll and hence the name of the dance. Couples execute spins and pivots as they follow each other in a large circle. At social gatherings in the region, the dance can be done for quite a long time with the musicians varying the tempo and challenging the dancers. This non-partner version gives the dancer the knowledge of the basic steps and movement.
Fafur (Fah-foor) is unique to the Green Kurpie Region of Poland located in the East Central part of Poland. The dance is so named due to the long ribbon tied in a bow that adorns the woman’s head piece. The steps are light and happy representing this fafur flying behind the woman as she dances. Although usually done in couples, the dance can be adapted for individual dancers and the basic step is simple enough for children to execute. The various holds and the ability to move multi-directional can make this a challenging and interesting dance to execute.
Kaczor (KAH-chohr) is from the Green Kurpie Region of Poland located in the East Central part of Poland. The name means drake (male duck) and the dance has evolved from a wedding march into a show-off dance for men. A variation of steps allows us to incorporate women into the dance so that it can be done either as a couple dance or as an individual dance for men. The version described below is for couples and does not involve the more complicated walking in a squatted position that the men would do if dancing alone.
I first learnt this dance in 1989 during the World Festival of Polish Folklore in Poland, in which, Sławomir Mazurkiewicz, well-known Lowicz expert from Lodz, used it in his choreography for the finale number involving many dance groups from around the world. He explained to me that like many other regions of the country this clapping (klapać means to clap in Polish and hence the name) dance is meant to be done for fun by people of all ages from young children to the very old. There are many variations of the dance and I have included one that, although quite simple, is very enjoyable to do.
The Kujony is a variation of the Kujawiak and is specific to the folklore-rich central region of Lowicz. The dance is done in a slow ¾ meter tempo, with very lyrical melodies. Usually danced by couples, it features a wide range of movement in varied tempos from slow to quite lively. According to old tradition, the Kujawiak, which originated in the region of Kujawy was danced in a slow tempo from start to finish. Adopted at large by the majority of Poland’s regions it became one of Poland’s five national dances. During its different phases of development it featured many variants and styles of dancing. The Kujony of Lowicz is an excellent and beautiful example of one such variant. Taught to me by Sławomir Mazurkiewicz, reknowned choreographer from Łódz, this dance includes a movement by the men symbolizing the use of a scythe in cutting the wheat which grows in central Poland. The rich heavy-woolen costumes of the region also show off the fields of various colour in their striped pattern.
On the eve of June 23rd, the shortest night of the year, the Poles celebrate St. John’s Eve or as it was known in Pagan times “Sobótki”. Many celebrations include music and dancing, fireworks, boat parades and lighting bonfires. In some regions women were celebrating the shortest night separately from men. Women were throwing herbs to the fire – hoping that it would protect them from evil. Single women make wreaths from herbs and floated them down the river hoping that their future husband would find it and fall in love with them. It was called “Throwing of wreaths” (Rzucanie Wianków), while the men were jumping through the fire to test their strength and courage. Even today the traditional candle-lit wreaths are floated on the Vistula in Krakow during the St. John the Baptist feast – together with fireworks and bonfires to commemorate the holiday.
Located in Eastern Poland is the city and region of Lublin where folklore is to this day still very popular. The folk music and dances of this region can be traced back to the 16th century. Lubelskie dances are not complex but offer simple movements and figures, but when done with vigour and grace can be quite beautiful. I have combined two Lubelskie dances below. The first is “Osa” which originated in Tatary (one of the districts of the present day city of Lublin) followed by “Mach”, a fantastic show-off dance done at weddings, consisting of four parts that begin slowly and elegantly and increase in tempo as we dance through all four partitions ending with a whirlwind of spins. I was taught this dance in the early 1970’s by my teacher Leokadia Magdziarz and was subsequently throughout the years, shown several other interpretations and variations by experts from the region. My thanks and appreciation to Jan Pogonowski, Zenia Stepowicz and the late Ignacy Wachowiak for their contribution.