Monday, November 15, 2010

REVIEW: Mazowsze - The National Song and Dance Ensemble of Poland

A Nod to the Past with a Look to the Future

by Staś Kmieć

Mira Zimińska-Sygietyńska, co-founder of Mazowsze once said "There are three stars of Mazowsze - the dancers, the singers and the costumes." The famed Polish company did not disappoint with a
vivacious performance on November 14th at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, which opened their current North American tour. An extension of that assessment would include the memorable compositions based on folk tumes by Tadeusz Sygietyński and the masterful choreography – the majority of which is by Witold Zapała.

The formula of Mazowsze has changed little over the years and familiar favorites are always a "wel
come friend” – worth waiting for, such as Elwira Kamińska's Krakowiak masterpiece, the romance and lift of Zbigniew Kiliński's Kujawiak and the epic scope of Zapała's Mazur from the Duchy of Warsaw period.

The current program includes three new selections. The remainder is drawn from the company's vast repertoire, although in some cases in an abbreviated form. There is the same richness of style; the technical prowess of the performers has evolved over the years.

As the program presented was Christmas in Warsaw, many of the folk melodies that Mazowsze is known for were missing. In their place were majestically performed kolędy carols.

The new costumes for Songs from Racibórz were presented as a cross-section of the area including the uniformed miner Górnik, the men in their yellow doeskin leather pants (jelenioki) and wide-brimmed kania hats, and the maidens attired in a white-embroidered loose jacket (kaftan – “jakla”) with rich brocade aprons and galanda wreaths of artificial flowers. The married woman's representation included the head kerchief (chustka – “purpurka”) and characteristic beads adorned with a cross (korale z krzyżkiem).

The songs with musical arrangement by Tadeusz Niećko were gentle and pleasant tothe ear. The suite included the regional tunes “W Starym Piecu,” “Zachodzi S
oneczko,” “Piosenka o Raciborzu” and a medley of Waloszki (waltzes).

Chopin's Rondo à la Krakowiak paid homage to the famed artist's 200th anniversary and to the rich tradition of Polish folk-style ballets. The 50-year old stylized ballet costumes were found in the wardrobe's archive. They had been intended for a U.S. Tour when the company was to present a represenation of the classic 19th century Polish ballet Wesele w Ojcowie. The project was abandoned and the costumes lay in storage. Cleaned and refurbished, they now debut in this folk tale.

A delicate pastoral scene with Romantic era gestures and épaulement sets the stage with a scarecrow (Strach na wróble) in the background providing the tone of calm. A lively procession of Krakowiacy enters and the cwal sliding step and hołubiec clicks match the temperament of the composition. The choreography gives a chance for the dancers, many who have trained in ballet from an early age to dance in this classical style.

Visually stunning, Życzenie G-dur op. 74 (the Maiden's Wish) also by Chopin, was exquistely staged, and
costumed in period attire.

With the untimely death of Tadeusz Sygietyński in 1955, Mazowsze considered ceasing its operations; in 1997 when the company lost their beloved Mira, again they were again faced with an uncertsain future;
directorships followed with varying degrees of impact and effect. Today a new artistic director Ryszard Grąbowski – the offspring of two of Mazowsze's finest performers is at the helm with the task of making the company relevant to today's audience. How to attract a younger audience in a Poland lost in the conventions of computer technology and the phenomenon of mainstream entertainment and commercialism.

Master choreographer Witold
, whose name is now synomymous with Mazows
ze had an early connection with the company first as its premier soloist and later as its unifyi
ng force as the chief choreographer. He has shaped the
any with unique visual arrangements and style and is the link to its origins and the
continuation of its artistic vision.

He has an assistant/ballet mistress Wioletta Milczuk, who has learned all the repertoire and will b
e the "
keeper of the flame" for the next generation.

Mazowsze has entertained us for years, and despite a fresh artistic interpretaion of village life, it is often regarded as a living cultural archive and a relic of the past. It has a complicated legacy to contend with and today it strives to balance its “nod to the past” with a “look forward to the future.” Sto Lat Zapała; long live Mazowsze!

The tour is presented courtesy of 2Luck Concepts.

Review appears in the December issue of The Polish American Journal

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mazowsze on Tour

The best way to experience the magic and magnificence of Mazowsze – The National Song and Dance Ensemble of Poland is to see the company perform live. The world-renowned company returns to North America in a special 60th Anniversary celebratory tour of live performances November 14 – December 12. Presented by 2Luck Concepts, the tour will feature 90 dancers, singers and the full 23-member orchestra.

Click link for full tour itinerary and theater contact information:

Coming soon... Mazowsze on Tour Website
Follow Mazowsze before and during the tour on the website – Mazowsze on Tour ( Background information on the dances, the songs, and the performers, along with historical information, and Mazowsze backstage, on-the-road, sightseeing, and personal.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Friday, October 29, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Lech Walęsa to Join Building and Construction Trades in Solidarity Rally - NYC

Former Polish President and Leader of Solidarity Movement Will Address Thousands of Union Workers in Times Square

Thousands of members of the New York City Building and Construction Trades will rally this Monday, October 25 from 3:00 - 4:00 pm in Times Square for union solidarity with Lech Walęsa, the shipyard electrician who fought for labor rights in Poland and ultimately helped topple Soviet-style totalitarianism in that country, which led to him being its first democratically elected president from 1990-95.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner will headline the rally sponsored by the Building and Construction Council of Greater New York, the umbrella group representing more than 100,000 workers citywide. The rally will highlight Mr. Walesa' experience in leading the solidarity movement that defeated Communist rule and how solidarity among union members and working men and women can fight exploitation and rebuild America's middle class.

“Lech Walesa is legendary figure who epitomizes what the union movement is all about in the U.S. and around

the world: strength, spirit and solidarity,” said Gary La Barbera, president of the Building and Construction

Trades Council of Greater New York. “We know that solidarity is critical to advancing the union movement and the rights of workers everywhere, and this is exactly what will be on display at this historic rally.”

Monday, October 25; 3:00-4:00 pm

TIMES SQUARE (7th Avenue from 42nd Street to 36th Street, Manhattan)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Polanski Short Films on Tour

The Polish Cultural Institute in New York will present a United States tour of a showcase of rarely screened short films directed by Academy Award® Winner Roman Polanski.

With live music by Sza/Za, an experimental electro-acoustic duo from Warsaw, the program of Polanski’s seven short films will premiere at BAMcinématek on November 2, and then tour the U.S. to be presented at some of the most prestigious venues on the East Coast and West Coast, including the National Gallery of Art in DC and the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco. The project will pay tribute to the Polish jazz pioneer Krzysztof Komeda, Polanski’s long time collaborator in Europe and Hollywood.

Between 1958 and 1962, the acclaimed director made a series of short films, mostly as a student at the renowned Lodz Film School in Poland. From playful filmmaking exercises: Murder (1957) and Teeth Smile (1957), and the metaphorical Break Up the Dance (1957) and Mammals (1962), to his award winning film Two Men and a Wardrobe (1958).

Roman Polanski: Short Films will reveal the director's surreal and dark style, his masterful storytelling ability and his restless search for the truth about human nature. The grotesque and often disturbing world of his short films, and his meticulously clean direction are traits that would be later developed in such masterpieces as Rosemary’s Baby, Chinatown, The Pianist, and his most recent The Ghost Writer.

Sza/Za (Pawel Szamburski and Patryk Zakrocki) – musicians, improvisers and promoters of culture in the Warsaw music and independent art scene since 1999 – have composed a new score for this special event. Using clarinet, violin, analogue loop stations and subtle effects, their music

is a unique mix of noise and silence, pop and contemporary chamber music, which convey both the beauty and ugliness of sophisticated wisdom and pure, naive thoughtlessness.


  • Tuesday, November 2, 7:30 pm: BAMcinématek – 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, NY;
  • Thursday, November 4, 7:30 pm: Cornell Cinema – 104 Willard Straight Hall, Ithaca, NY;
  • Sunday, November 7, 7:00 pm: Alamo Drafthouse Ritz – 320 E. 6th St.Austin, TX;
  • Monday, November 8, 7:30 pm: Boulder Theater – 2032 14th St., Boulder, CO;
  • Tuesday, November 9, 8:00 pm: The Cinefamily – 611 N. Fairfax Ave, Los Angeles, CA;
  • Wednesday, November 10, 7:30 pm: Letterman Digital Arts Center - One Letterman Dr., San Francisco, CA;
  • Thursday, November 11, 7:30 pm: Seattle International Film Festival Cinema – 321 Mercer St., Seattle, WA;
  • Saturday, November 13, 4:30 pm: National Gallery of Art/ East Building Large Auditorium - 4th St. & Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC; :
  • Sunday, November 14, 7:00 pm: Film Row Cinema/Columbia College – 1104 S. Wabash, Chicago, IL;,

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Polish Film Receives U.S. Premiere

The New York premiere of War of Love (Śluby Panieńskie), a Polish film directed by Filip Bajon will take place on October 23rd in Manhattan. The tickets to the premiere are sold out. An encore showing will occur on Sunday, October 24 at 3:00 pm at the Florence Gould Hall – 55 East 59th Street (Between Park & Madison). The acting ensemble and director Actors will meet
the U.S. audience at the New York premiere.

The costume drama is based on a classical comedy by Count Aleksander Fredro, one of the most popular Polish playwrights of the 19th century. The film is an adaptation of that work with the action taking place in two time periods – the contemporary set where the actors portraying main

characters exist and the era in which the comedy takes place.

War of Love received it's U.S. premiere in Chicago. The film will be distributed in the US in as many as fifty locations. Check for further details.

From Poland with Love - Buffalo, NY

Celebrate Polish Heritage Month and Chopin's 200th Birthday with Canadian-born pianist Berenika Zakrzewski in an all-Polish music program. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, The Polish Cultural Institute in New York and The Western NY Chapter of the Kosciuszko Foundation will present From Poland with Love with Zakrzewski and the Buffalo Philharmonic on Saturday, October 23, and Sunday, October 24; 8:00 pm at the Kleinhans Music Hall – 3 Symphony Circle in Buffalo, NY.

The program will include Szymanowski: Concert Overture in E major, op. 12, Chopin: Concerto for Piano no. 2 in F major, B43/Op. 21, Karlowicz: The Sorrowful Tale, Symphonic Poem for Orchestra
and Lutoslawski:
Concerto for Orchestra. For tickets:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Białystok Puppet Theatre Comes to NYC

The Białystok Puppet Theatre (Białostocki Teatr Lalek) will present Chopin – An Impression for a October 21 – November 7 engagement at La MaMa E.T.C. - The Ellen Stewart Theatre/ The Annex (74A East 4th Street) in Manhattan. The production directed by Lesław Piecka is presented by La MaMa E.T.C. in association with the Polish Cultural Institute in New York.

With music by Fryderyk Chopin and text by Wojciech Szelachowski, the piece is a theatrical reflection on the life and work of the world's greatest composer for the piano, performed in perfect synchrony with selections from Chopin's works and by marionettes representing the composer and the historical figures who surrounded him.

The minimal English narration and silent manipulation of the marionette cast enact Chopin's artistic friendships, musical impressions, and life experiences. Every detail has been

worked out. The puppet's fingers move precisely in the rhythm of the mazurkas, nocturnes and waltzes as played by Polish virtuoso pianist Krzysztof Trzaskowski. The Bialystok Puppet Theatre is one of the leading puppet theaters in Europe and one of the oldest Polish theater companies to cultivate a puppet repertoire for adults. Since 1972, it has regularly produced works by such authors as Boccaccio, Calderon, Rostand, Gogol, Bernhard, Rozewicz, and Mrozek.

Chopin-An Impression was originally commissioned by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the worldwide celebration of The Year of Chopin 2010, celebrating the bicentennial of the composer's birth in Żelazowa Wola, Poland. In New York the play will be presented as a part of the The La MaMa Puppet Series IV--Built to Perform, an annual event that carries on La MaMa's long standing tradition of supporting puppet theater artists from all over the world.For schedule and ticket information: or

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Teresa Krakowiak is Miss PKM at Pulaski Day Parade - Philadelphia, PA

The P.K.M. Dancers - Polish Intercollegiate Club of Philadelphia (Polskie Kółko Miedzykolegialne) appeared at Philadelphia's Pulaski Day Parade on October 3, presenting their Stara Warszawa suite.

This year's Miss PKM is Teresa Krakowiak, a graduate of Norwich University, Northfield, Vermont with a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Security and Information Assurance. She has been a dance member of PKM for a year carrying on a family tradition; Teresa is the daughter of Cynthia and John Krakowiak, both PKM Alumni.

PKM will perform in the lobby of the Kimmel Center as a pre-show prior to the Mazowsze performance in Philadelphia on Sunday, November 14.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Monika Pastuszak's "Venetian Masks" - Greenpoint-Brooklyn, NY

A photographic exhibit entitled Venetian Masks by Monika Pastuszak will be shown

October 1- November 3 at the Starbucks Coffee - 910 Manhattan Ave in Greenpoint-Brooklyn.

"Many years ago I started my adventure with photography, but I never thought that others will see my photographic images,” said Paztuszak. “In 2006, during the carnival I

went to Venice. What I saw exceeded my expectations and while there I could not wait another year to capture it on film. I returned to Venice.Two days shooting mysterious figures in masks and greed fixation of distance run, satisfied my belief that photography is my passion, my window to the world.”

For more about Pastuszak's work check:

Polonaise Ball - Middletown, NY

The Hudson Valley Polonaise Society will host their Annual Polonaise Ball on Sunday, October 24th at the Elks Lodge in Middletown, NY from 3 – 7 pm. Dancing to the Ablemen Orchestra and a dance exhibition will be held. For tickets call: 845-258-4425.

The Emotionalist Group's 16th Birthday - Greenpoint-Brooklyn, NY

The Emotionalist Art Group will celebarte their 16th year of existence with The Emotionalists – New Works on October 15 – November 3 at Kurier Plus Gallery - 145 Java Street in Greenpoint-Brooklyn.

Artists participating include: Lubomir Tomaszewski, Maria Fuks, Janusz Skowron (exhibit curator), Mieczysław Mietko Rudek, Wojciech Kubik, Ivan Bratko, Beata Szpura, Zbigniew Nowosadzki, Jan Hausbrandt, Artur Skowron, Anna Zatorska, Maksymilian Starzec, Patrycja Todo, Ryszard Semko, Piotr Betlej, Kinga Kolouszek, Christine Tomaszewski, Katarzyna Derda, Malina Boreyko, Beata Trefon, Jolanta Budny Badyna, Witold Vito Wójcik, Agnieszka Uziębło, Adam Panek, Jacek Wolski.

Agnieszka Solawa's Necklace Art - Summit, NJ

Agnieszka Solawa, an accomplished artist and architect is exhibiting a collection of handmade necklaces utilizing beads and pendants made from a variety of materials including coral, fresh water pearls, African metal beads, among others. The necklaces are Solawa's creation from a collection of beads that she acquired during her travels around the world and will b e displayed during the month of October at the Summit Public Library at 75 Maple St. in Summit, NJ.

Born in Kraków, Poland, Solawa grew up surrounded by art. She was only 10 years old when she received her first commission for five icons of the Polish mountain technique of reverse paintings on glass for the Missionary Church in Kraków. She immigrated with her family to South Africa to escape Communism. Freedom was essential to her growth as an artist. She moved to the United Statesin 1987 and resides in Summit, NJ.

To see more of Ms. Solawa's work check:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition - October 19, NYC

The New York Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition

Tue, Oct 19 at 10 am
Leonard Nimoy Thalia Day of $30; Advance $25; Members $20; 30 and Under: $15

In celebration of the Chopin Bicentennial, this competition presents today’s most promising young pianists, selected from the finest conservatories and music schools, in performances of Chopin’s best-known études, ballades, mazurkas, polonaises, préludes and waltzes. Join the panel of distinguished international judges, including Ewa Kupiec, Benjamin Hochman, Philip Kennicott, and Daniel Epstein, and be part of the decision-making process for the Grand prize—a 2011 recital at Symphony Space in New York and a weeklong trip to Poland for an international debut recital in Warsaw.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Magdalena Baczewska to play at the Consulate - NYC

The Consulate General of Poland in New York and the De Lamar Mansion Salon of Arts & Ideas will present a piano recital – Chopin and His Legacy by Magdalena Baczewska on Sunday, October 17, at 4:00 pm. The program will consist of works by Chopin, Gershwin, Liszt, Paderewski, Ginastera, Szymanowski and Rachmaninov, and will be held at the Consulate (233 Madison Avenue, NYC).

As a winner of international piano competitions, Magdalena has appeared worldwide as a solo artist and in orchestral performances. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music, along with Bachelor and Master's Degree from the Mannes College of Music, New School University. She is a faculty member at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University in New Jersey and at the International Keyboard Institute and Festival in New York City. She was among the jurors of the International Chopin Competition at Columbia University.

Her recordings and performances have been hailed as "eloquent and technically flawless" (The Washington Post).

The event is free and open to the public. Registration required. Contact, (646) 237-2114.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Polish American Heritage Month Coloring Contest

The Polish American Heritage Month Committee, Michael Blichasz, National Chairman are celebrating the National Celebration of Polish History, Culture and Pride in Cooperation with the Polish American Congress and Polonia across America with numerous events.

Each year the committee sponsors a Coloring Contest with the objective to allow students

to learn something about the history of Polish people and their contributions to the world. This year's contest is devoted to the world renowned pianist and composer of Polish Descent - Fryderyk Chopin.

To download the coloring contest entry and for suggestions on how to sponsor a Coloring Contest check:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Polish Cultural Institute and Komeda Project at 92nd St. Y Festival - NYC

The Polish Cultural Institute in New York made their yearly appearance representing Poland at the 92nd St. Y Street Festival. At their booth directly across from the 92nd St. Y, they handed out brochures about upcoming events, they distributed books, brochures and information promoting Poland and various aspects of Polish culture.

Established in 2000, PCI is a diplomatic mission to the United States. One of 22 such institutes around the

world, it serves under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. The Institute is dedicated to nurturing and promoting cultural ties between the United States and Poland, both through American exposure to Poland's cultural achievements, and through exposure of Polish artists and scholars to American institutions, professional counterparts, and to currents in American culture.

In addition to their booth , PCI presented the Komeda Project at the Festival. In his short life (until his untimely death in a tragic accident in Hollywood at the age of 38), Krzysztof Komeda (1931-1969) wrote music to over 40 films, including such Polish cinematic classics as Roman Polanski’s "Knife in the Water" and Andrzej Wajda’s "Innocent Sorcerers." He is widely credited as

being one of the founding fathers of the modern jazz movement in Poland.

Born and raised in Poland, founders of the Komeda Project, pianist Andrzej Winnicki and saxophonist Krzysztof Medyna have been playing together for over thirty years. They bring both a European classicism and melancholy Slavic melodism to music that's heavily refracted

through the prism of the American tradition. Before moving to the United States in the late 1980s, they spent years touring Europe with the award-winning group Breakwater. Winnicki and Medyna decided to form the all-acoustic Komeda Project in 2004.

For information on the Polish Cultural Institute's season check: