Tuesday, July 28, 2009

TRIBUTE: Eugenia T. Smith (1942—2009)

Eugenia T. Smith, a Polish institution in the Buffalo/Western New York area was involved in dance for more than 50 years.

Active in the Polish community, she was the founder and director of the Krakowiacy Polish Folk Dancers, which performed at two International Festivals in Poland, at local festivals, Walt Disney World and for President Ronald Reagan.

Born Eugenia Zastempowski in Buffalo, the West Seneca resident graduated from Villa Maria Academy and received a bachelor’s degree in education from Buffalo State College.

The daughter of a dancer, Eugenia began teaching ballet, tap and jazz in the basement of her family’s home when she was 14.

Eugenia’s Dance Studios, the school she founded and owned for 53 years, has an enrollment of almost 400 students. Several of her students went on to careers as professional dancers and entertainers and include a Tony Award winner and members of the Radio City Rockettes.

Known as “Miss Genie” to the thousands who attended her dance studios in Buffalo, Cheektowaga, West Seneca and Orchard Park, she incorporated Polish folk dance as part of her school’s curriculum alongside Ballet, Tap and Jazz and Lyrical styles.

She was a lifetime member of Dance Masters of America and Dance Educators of America. With her school’s company Talent Express, Eugenia received many awards for her choreography at national dance conventions. She was inducted into the Western New York Dance Hall of Fame in 2001.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

NEWS - European Union Assembly elects ex-Polish Prime Minister as its President

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek (Photo/Christian Lutz)

Former Prime Minister of Poland and European Parliament Member, Jerzy Buzek was elected the 28th President of The European Parliament, making the pro-democracy activist the first easterner from a former Communist country to head a major EU institution.

The European parliament is the only multinational legislature in the world.

A leading member of the Solidarity trade union that sank Communism in Poland in the late 1980s, Buzek won 555 of the 644 valid votes cast - a first-ballot majority at the inaugural session of the new 736-member EU assembly. His nearest opponent, Swedish Green Party member Eva-Britt Svenson, received 89 votes.

Many likened Buzek's election to a final healing of Europe's old East-West division - as did Buzek.
"Once upon a time I hoped to be a member of the Polish parliament, in a free Poland," the center-right politician said. "Today I have become the president of the European Parliament, something I could never have dreamed of."

Buzek, 69, will lead for two-and-a-half years. A socialist (still unnamed) will succeed him for the following two-and-a-half years, under a tradeoff between the left and the right in the EU assembly.

Buzek's election reflects conservative gains in the 27 EU countries and comes as the EU is suffering from a deep crisis of confidence. The June 4-7 EU elections saw a record low turnout of under 44 percent, reflecting widespread disenchantment with the bloc, especially its expansion plans.

Nigel Farage of Britain's UK Independence Party criticized the inaugural session, which opened with the hymn 'Ode to Joy' from Beethoven's 9th Symphony. "You are pushing ahead with all the trappings of statehood," he told the ex-premier. He cautioned him not "to turn the EU into the union you fought so hard against" in Communist Poland.

Jerzy Buzek was born in what is now Smilovice in the Zaolzie region of Silesia, now in the Czech Republic. At the time of his birth, it was officially named Smilowitz and was part of Landkreis Teschen of Germany. He was born into the prominent Buzek family, which participated in Polish politics in the Second Polish Republic during the interbellum. The family was part of the Polish community in Zaolzie. After World War II, his family moved to Chorzów. He is a Protestant.

After the demise of Communism, Buzek was a right-wing premier in Poland from 1997-2001. He is credited with bringing critical reforms to the health and pension systems and remains well-regarded by many Poles.

He entered the European Parliament in 2004 after Poland, seven other east European nations, Malta and Cyprus joined the bloc that year.

Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski hailed his appointment Tuesday as a "symbolic overcoming of the divisions between the old and new countries" of the European Union.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

EXHIBIT: "Amerykański Sen – American Dream" - Kraków, Poland

by Staś Kmieć

U.S. citizens in the United States and abroad are celebrating Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. This year marks the 233rd Anniversary of America’s Independence.

In the United States, the national holiday is commonly associated with fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, picnics, concerts, baseball games, ceremonies, and various other public and private events.

Americans in Poland also celebrate the occasion with festive events, concerts, and official ceremonies. U.S. Ambassador to Poland Victor Ashe and Consul General Anne Hall hosted a 4th of July reception for over 2,000 Polish and American guests on July 2. The reception ended with a traditional fireworks display against Warsaw’s skyline.

The U.S. Embassy in Warsaw and the U.S. Consulate General in Kraków are celebrating the Fourth of July holiday with a series of events, including the opening of the American Dream Exhibit in Kraków (Amerykański Sen), which opened on July 1.

The exhibition, organized by the Kraków’s National Museum, Jagiellonian University and the U.S. Consulate in Kraków , is part of U.S. Mission Poland’s celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Polish-American diplomatic relations.

American Dream is an artistic and educational experiment, presenting works of art, large-scale installations (such as the Apollo lunar landing), films, including documentaries (such as Woodstock – the biggest music festival of the 1960s), large format photographic prints and sound tracks created especially for the project.

America is observed through forty paintings of the most famous Photorealists from the private collection of Louis K. and Susan P. Meisel from New York.

The project, conceived over 18 months ago, shows the way the idea of “America” influenced the Polish imagination from 1945-1989. American Dream encompasses six exhibitions and an extensive interdisciplinary educational program and is happening not only in the museum itself, but in and around the city.

The underlying concept is to create an exhibition around the people, phenomena and notions linked with American culture and of significance to the generations of Poles whose youth was spent in the 1950s, 60s and 70s under the realities of the People’s Republic of Poland and its political propaganda.

American Dream will be on display through October 4, and the National Museum (Main Building, Al. 3 Maja 1) has put together an events calendar to accompany the exhibition. The website (http://www.amerykanski-sen.pl/) offers an extensive interactive program.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

RESTAURANT PICK: European-inspired Cuisine at George’s Restaurant – Haverhill, MA

by Staś Kmieć

The Downtown Historic District of Haverhill, MA is now abuzz with restaurants, bistros, cafés and boutique bakeries. During an extended 4th of July visit to the area, I finally got the chance to experience George’s Restaurant – a place that has been the talk of my family and my hometown.

I heard about the pierogi and barszcz during holiday periods and the chef’s European-inspired progressive American Cuisine, so for my first visit I was looking for some ethnic fare. The lunch time menu featured continental cuisine, but apparent in the “specials” was my choice: a hearty Beef and Duck soup with sweet potato and kielbasa and Pork Schnitzel, thinly pounded with a lemon butter caper sauce and accompanied by a carrot and green bean medley and delicious homemade mashed potatoes. All this for a price you can’t beat!

Owner and Chef Peter Polasek is an American success story. Born in the Czech Republic, he attended the Culinary Institute in Prague and graduated with high honors for hotel and restaurant management. In 1980, Peter immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 and was employed as Sous Chef at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco, where he met his wife Lisa. Together they opened their first restaurant in San Raphael, California.

In 2004, Peter and Lisa opened George’s Restaurant where they continue to raise the standards for gourmet fine dining. With bi-annual menu changes and daily specials, Chef Peter pays homage to his culture with Saturday Night Czech Specials. I will have to return to sample the pierogi and other ethnic delights.

The restaurant has been voted Best Fine Dining, Lunch and Martini in the Greater Haverhill area three years in a row. With an impressive mural of George Washington prominently displayed in the elegant surroundings of a former bank, George’s Restaurant is dedicated to our country’s First President.

GEORGE'S RESTAURANT ● 77 Washington Street ● Haverhill, Massachusetts ● 978-374-5150
Haverhill is located 45 miles North of Boston and 15 miles from the New Hampshire border