Polanie Song and Dance Ensemble, sponsored by Polish National Alliance Lodge 2525 of Dearborn, performed in the 15th World Festival of Polish Folk Dancing this summer in Rzeszow, Poland. The high school and college students, shown here in Lowicz regional costumes in Boguchwala on July 24 are Director Christine Kryszko (back row left) of Dearborn; Mark Matusiewicz, 15, of Dearborn Heights; Paul Nowak, 15, of Dearborn Heights; Matt Wisla, 16, of Dearborn Heights; Michael Suchyta, 15, of Dearborn; Peter Szatkowski, 21, of Macomb Township; Andrew Pietrzak, 17, of Dearborn; Luke Bochenek, 17, of Dearborn; Sylwester Grega, 20, of Hamtramck; Ben Timpf, 15, of Dearborn; Dawid Dechnik, 19, of Clarkston; Michael Halon, 20, of Hamtramck; Matt Koper, 19, of Warren; Paul Rakowiecki, 19, of Sterling Heights; Anne Suchyta (front row left), 21, of Dearborn; Krystyn Sitko, 21, of Huron Township; Natalie Jedruszko, 22, of Livonia; Kasia Lisiecki, 20, of Westland; Jessica Sitko, 19, of Huron Township; Alexandria Bochenek, 19, of Dearborn; Paulina Kowalczyk, 18, of Livonia; Felicia Adamczyk, 19, of Huron Township; Jessica Piechocki, 21, of Wyandotte; Angela Tarnogorska, 17, of Dearborn Heights; Katie Suchyta, 18, of Dearborn; Camille Szwajka, 18, of Dearborn Heights; Aneta Rakowiecki, 18, of Sterling Heights; Evelina Kutyma, 18, of Livonia and Kelsey Joseph, 17, of Canton.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
Local Polish folk dance group Polanie joined 42 other Polish folk dance groups from around the world in the Polish city of Rzeszow July 22 to 27 for the 15th annual Polish Folk Dance Festival, which is held every three years.
Polanie then spent another week on their own touring the region around Krakow, Zakopane and Warsaw in southern Poland.
The group of 29 high school and college students, consisting of 16 females and 13 males from Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties and chaperones prepared for the trip for the past three years. The high school and college students in Polanie had three years to polish their dances for the group’s required audition videos.
The festival, held every three years, accepted 43 groups this year, and had to turn groups away for lack of room.
Polish folk dance groups from as far away as Brazil and Australia traveled to Rzeszow to perform at the festival. In addition to 12 groups from Canada and nine from the United States, dancers represented 12 other nations, including France, Sweden and Great Britain.
Dancers and chaperones, who are housed in local college dormitories, perform in local villages, the old town square and in a large local arena.
Participating groups also paraded through Rzeszow in a televised opening ceremony to enthusiastic crowds.
To pay for the trip, the group performed in different venues for donations and carried out many group fundraisers like traditional Polish dinners dinner dances and performances at wedding receptions.
Many of the young adults worked part-time jobs as well to cover their airfare and other trip-related expenses.
Polanie first sent dancers to the Rzeszow Festival 15 years ago with a Boston-area Polish Folk Dance group. Three years later, the group attended as one of the featured dance ensembles.
Some of this year’s ensemble, who grew up dancing with Polanie’s group for younger dancers, the Polish Alliance Dancers of Dearborn, have grown up watching Polanie perform and anticipating their turn to go to Rzeszow. A third of the group traveled to Rzeszow with Polanie three years ago.
Kelsey Joseph, 17, of Canton, has been a Polish dancer for 10 years.
“I chose to go to Poland with Polanie because I love to dance and have good friends in the group,” Joseph said. “It was what I’ve been working towards for ten years.”
Ben Timpf, 15, of Dearborn, joined the group two years ago. He enjoyed becoming closer to the other dancers in the group.
“The highlight of the whole festival (is when there are) 5000 people to perform to, and it is a sold- out house,”
Sylwester Grega, 20, of Hamtramck, joined Polanie before he knew they were planning a trip to Poland. Grega, who was born in Poland, had not returned to his homeland in ten years. He found the return trip gave him a fuller appreciation of his native culture.
“I found it moving that so many groups around the world enjoy Polish dancing and enjoy it as much as I do,” Grega said.
Polanie performed regional dances with colorful costumes, from Cieszyn, Krakow and the Beskid region. They also performed a Kujawiak Oberek, a romantic folk dance, as well as the Polonez, a national royal court dance.
Polanie performed their full repertoire in Czudec Village, near Rzeszow, and in the old village square of Rzeszow. They then performed Cieszyn for the televised closing festival performance in the large arena venue.
Each of the dance groups also performed a dance from their country of origin . Polanie performed a traditional American folk dance to the tune “Cotton-Eyed Joe.”
Following their week in Rzeszow Polanie toured the Zakopane mountain region as well as Krakow and Warsaw.
Highlights of Polanie’s trip included visits to castles in southern Poland, as well as an arboretum.
The group also visited the Basilica of the Divine Mercy in Krakow, known for the modern day St. Faustyna, the first Catholic saint of the 21st century.
A highlight of the group’s Warsaw visit was a tour of the Warsaw uprising museum, as well as a visit to the religious shrine Our Lady of Czestochowa.
Polanie, which is sponsored by Polish National Alliance Lodge 2525 of Dearborn, practices Saturday afternoons during the school year at Saints Peter and Paul Church in the Warrendale neighborhood of Detroit.
The group also sponsors dance classes for children ages 3 to 15, and Polish language classes for all ages.