Sunday, November 25, 2012

CHICAGO: Pan Tadeusz Score in Concert

The Paderewski Symphony Orchestra of Chicago under the direction of Wojciech Niewrzoł will present a concert version of the score from the Polish film – Pan Tadeusz on Saturday, December 1, 7:00 pm at Copernicus Center – 5216 W Lawrence Avenue, Chicago IL. 

  Pan Tadeusz is an epic poem by the famed poet, writer and philosopher Adam Mickiewicz.  The book was first published in 1834 in Paris, and is considered by many to be the last great epic poem in European literature – recognized as the national epic of Poland.  In 1999, a film version was made by director Andrzej Wajda.  The score by Wojciech Kilar is filled with majestic, heart-rending melodies and tense, visceral strings.
Fragments of text will be interpreated by Chicago actors Elżbieta Kochanowska, Julitta Mroczkowska, Andrzej Krukowski, Bogdan Łańko and Stanisław Wojciech Malec.
   For tickets:  773-467-9000;

CHICAGO: Piano Recital Museum of America

Michal Korzistka will present a piano recital at the Polish Museum of America – 984 N. Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL on December 16, at 3:00 pm.  The concert program will include the works of Fryderyk Chopin, Karol Szymanowski and Wojciech Kilar. All proceeds will help support The Polish Museum of America Library Rare Book Restoration Project.

NEW YORK: “Simultaneous Translation” by Katarzyna Krakowiak

Simultaneous Translation – a performative reading by Katarzyna Krakowiak will take place on Wednesday November 28, 6:30 pm at Residency Unlimited – 360 Court Street (green door), Brooklyn, NY.

The artist will realize a site specific investigation into the acoustics of the church. Over the course of the evening she will perform a reading of the geometry of the space that will divulge how sound travels and voices are contained by the walls. Krakowiak has been an Artist in residence since October which was organized in association with A-I-R Laboratory/Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, Poland with support of the Polish Cultural Institute, New York.

NEW JERSEY: Kisielewska Paintings at Skulski Gallery

The Skulski Art Gallery of the Polish Cultural Foundation will present an exhibit of paintings by Polish artist Malgorzata Kisielewska from December 7 through 31.

Kisielewska was born in Webrzezno, northern Poland.  Since an early age she showed a talent for painting, but in 1985 her talents came to the fore when she took up painting and started to express her emotions on a larger scale. Between 1985 and 1990 she completed about fifty oil works.  Encouraged by a friend, she entered a competition in Strasburg, France in 2001.  After she won the competition, her watercolors were presented at solo exhibition at the Palais de l’Europe in Strasburg.

   The public is welcome to the opening reception on Friday, December 7, 8:00-10:00 pm; admission is free and light refreshments will be served.

   Skulski Art Gallery – 177 Broadway, Clark, NJ, just of exit 135 from the Garden State Parkway.  For more information contact: 732-382-7197;

NEW YORK: Love, Poetry and Art

Two Loves – an evening of love, poetry and art will take place on Tuesday, December 4, at 7:00 pm at The Kosciuszko Foundation – 15 East 65th Street, New York, NY;

The “two loves” are works by Polish poet Bolesław Leśmian and Pablo Neruda, a Chilean poet and Nobel Prize winner. 

   Books by both authors have been translated by Marian Polak-Chlabicz, who will read some of the poems and answer questions from the audience. The setting will be among drawings and paintings by Janusz Skowron, the illustrator of both the volumes.  Polish actor, Tadeusz Turkowski will offer his interpretation of the verse.

CHICAGO: Polish-Soviet War film and Q&A

The Polish Consulate in Chicago and The Polish Museum of America will hold a screening followed by Q&A with Anna Ferens , the director of What Can Dead Prisoners Do on Friday, November 30, at 6:30 pm at 984 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago. 
   The film details the fate of the Soviet POWs captured by Poles following the Polish-Soviet War of 1919 after the Soviet invasion of Europe was stopped by the Polish Army at the gates of Warsaw. The documentary investigates the fate of those POWs and documents how their experience shaped Polish-Soviet relations for the future. Admission is free.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

MUSIC: Folk Fusion Band in the US

 Zakopower, one of the hottest bands in Poland, combines Polish folk music with modern rock undertones, will perform in a Chicago area engagement.

·         November 24 at 8:00 pm The Club - 7600 S Cicero Ave, Burbank IL

Info: 773-865-7818 / Tickets: 973-980-5515m

Saturday, November 17, 2012

BROADWAY: A Christmas Story, The Musical

by Staś Kmieć
    This year, the adaptation of the iconic film about a boy who wants a BB gun for Christmas is coming to Broadway!  A kooky leg lamp, outrageous pink bunny pajamas, a cranky department store Santa, and a triple-dog-dare to lick a freezing flagpole are just a few of the obstacles that stand between Ralphie and his Christmas dream.

   The award-winning musical theatre composing teamYou +1'd this publicly. Undo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (known as Pasek and Paul) has been developing the show for the past few years.  Now the musical is on “The Great White Way,” running through December 30 at Broadway's Lunt-Fontanne Theatre.

   The cast includes Dan Lauria (TV’s The Wonder Years), Tony Award nominee Erin Dilly, and Eddie Korbich as Santa Claus.   The creative team of Tony Award-winning director John Rando, and choreographer Warren Carlisle bring this beloved movie to the Broadway stage.

ART: The Face on Veterans' Experiences

by Staś Kmieć
   As emancipation from the horrors of War, the voices of veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars will animate a bronze commemorative statue of Abraham Lincoln that has stood silently in Manhattan’s Union Square Park since 1870. For thirty-one days, these memories and feelings will speak through Lincoln as part of an outdoor public art installation by Krzysztof Wodiczko entitled Abraham Lincoln: War Veteran Projection.

   The 23-minute video contains edited interviews with 14 U.S.; each person’s own words, voice, and gestures projected via sound and light brings the statue movingly to life.  An artist renowned for his large-scale light projections on architectural facades and monuments, Wodiczko was born in Warsaw, Poland, and now lives and works in New York City. He is a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

   Union Square has been the site of some of the largest activist gatherings in American history since 1861, during the Civil War when hundreds of thousands descended on the square to show support for the Union cause, as part of a war that would end up taking the lives of over a half million Americans. More recently Union Square was the gathering place for peaceful protests, as well as a place of healing after the 9/11 attacks.

   Presented by More Art and the Polish Cultural Institute New York, in conjunction with the Union Square Partnership, the installation has been timed to honor Veterans Day and is on view through December 9, 6:00 -10:00 pm daily at Union Square Park North at 16th Street, New York, NY.

FILM: Important and Emotional Lincoln

by Staś Kmieć
   Steven Spielberg brings to the big screen Lincoln – essentially a single month of the 16th President’s life, in which we get a full and rich portrait of how he lived in his time.  The goal of the entire movie is the passage of the 13th Amendment which would abolish slavery – enabling human rights to an overlooked and abused minority.  Tony Kushner (Angels in America), in part from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book "Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, penned a screenplay said to be with much of the same flavor as one from Aaron Sorkin.

   Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński projects greyish hues and nearly blinding blasts of white light to the film.  In 1993, Kamiński won the Academy Award for his eloquent black-and-white photography in Schindler's List (1993),  and has since been a collaborator with the Spielberg on all his films. 

   The supporting cast includes Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, David Strathairn, and Hal Holbrook, and at the center of it all, there is Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln.

   Lincoln recently opened in NY and LA, prior to release nationwide.

FILM: Anna Karenina and its Mazurka

by Staś Kmieć
 Arriving in US theaters, Anna Karenina is acclaimed director Joe Wright’s new vision of the epic story of love, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s great 1877 novel by Academy Award winner Tom Stoppard.  Starring Keira Knightly and Jude Law, the story unfolds in its original late 19th century Tsarist Russia high-society setting and powerfully explores the capacity for love that surges through the human heart, from the passion between adulterers to the bond between a mother and her children.

   This visually stunning and artistically bold film features music by Dario Marianelli and choreography by Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui including the waltz, quadrille and mazurka – an important and fateful dance in the novel.
The mazurka originated in the 16th century as a peasant dance among the Mazurs of east-central Poland and was quickly adopted by the Polish court. It eventually spread to Russian and German ballrooms and by the 1830s had reached England and France. The mazurka is an important dance in many Russian novels – it also appears in Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. 

MUSIC: Elektra Kurtis and Ensemble Elektra

November 29 at 7:00 pm - Crossing cultural and stylistic borders of music by infusing American Jazz and Rock with Mediterranean, Arabic, Latin and Polish styles, the program will consist of the ensemble's newest compositions and improvisations on themes from the Polish Podhale mountains, New York beats, Greek rhythms, Arabic modes and Szymanowski's ballet Harnasie.  A violinist and composer of Greek origin, Kurtis was raised in Poland. 

   Kosciuszko Foundation in New York – 212-734-2130;

HOLIDAY: A Lira Christmas

The Lira Ensemble will present their Annual Christmas Show - “Polish Carols, Song & Dance” featuring the Lira Singers, Lira Dancers and Lira Symphony:
· Sunday, November 25 at 3:00 pm – Macomb Center for the Performing Arts, 44575 Garfield Road, Clinton Township, MI
· Sunday, December 9 at 3:00 pm - North Shore Center for the Performing Arts,9501 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL
773-508-7040 or 1-800-547-LIRA;

MUSIC: Niemen Concert in Manhattan

   Zespół Bracia, Paweł Kukiz, Janusz Radek, Anna Wyszkoni, Zbigniew Zamachowski will band together for a concert honoring the legendary Czesław Niemen on November 17 at 8:00 pm.  Niemen was one of the most important and original Polish singer-songwriters and rock balladeers of the last quarter-century.       
   Hunter College Assembly Hall – East 68th St (between Park & Lexington), New York NY.

MUSIC: Budka Suflera in Chicago

Budka Suflera with guests Izabela Trojanowska, Felicjan Andrzejczak, Michał Hochman and Tomaczek Bednarek will perform in a concert – "Cień Wielkiej Góry” on November 17 at 8:00 pm.
   Copernicus Center – 5216 West Lawrence Ave, Chicago, IL; 773-777-8898,, or 

EDUCATION: Irena Sendler – Life in a Jar

    “He who changes one person, changes the world entire”.  Protestant students from rural Kansas, discovered a Polish Catholic woman who saved Jewish children. Few had heard of Irena Sendlerowa in 1999, now after 305 presentations of Life in a Jar, a web site, and world-wide media attention, Irena is known to the world.  Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Mayer is a powerful story of a Catholic woman who knocked on Jewish doors in the Warsaw ghetto and, in Sendler's own words, "tried to talk the mothers out of their children."
   Peformances at St. Louis, MO: Cervantes Convention Center – November 22-24.
   A DVD and insert study guide is available. The DVD also features Irena and the cast, a photo album, and a Today Show segment. The DVD can be obtained freely or for a donation.  Contact and information:;

Polish Film Screenings

·    New Generation of Polish Filmmakers Screenings – the first ever New York screening of 18 acclaimed films through November 17 at Tribeca Film Center and Tribeca Screening Room375 Greenwich Street, New York, NY.

·        Polish Film Festival, Art Exhibit and Book Fair – presented by The Permanent Chair of Polish Culture at Canisius College, in conjunction with the Polish Legacy Project through November 19. Events are free and open to the public unless otherwise specified.  For more information about the festival, contact Mary Lou Wyrobek at 716-888-5970 or via email at Full schedule at

·         The 24th Polish Film Festival in America, one of Chicago's premier film events, will take place through November 18 in five premier cinematic venues. Over seventy feature, documentary and animated films made by Polish filmmakers will be presented, most of them with English subtitles. Tickets for the screenings are available on the website -, or phone: 773-486-9612.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

REVIEW: Śląsk Delivers!

Non-stop Show Full of Movement, Color and Style
(from The Polish American Journal-December 2012 issue )

by Staś Kmieć
Reviewed November 1 at St. Hubert’s High School, Philadelphia, PA; presented by Polski Express.

   It was 1959 when the cultural impresario Sol Hurok brought the Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble of Poland (then called the Śląsk, The Polish State Folk Ballet) to America for the first time. It was the middle of the Cold War, and cultural exchange was one of the few international successes of the time.  The company’s sensational debut, followed by a lengthy sold-out US tour, symbolized a separation of art and culture from the politics of the day.
Polka Szturchana
  Śląsk returned to the United States delivering a non-stop show – full of movement, color and style.  Celebrating their 60th anniversary, the first-class professional folkloric troupe  shows no signs of creeping middle age here; the company’s legacy glittered for an action-packed two hours that possibly left observers more exhausted than the participants.  Skillful and dazzlingly energetic, the presentation was much enhanced by brilliantly colorful costumes and a compliment of 14 musicians.
   Much of the appeal of Śląsk relies on its immense unison, impressive patterning, and stylistic traits. The meticulously dispatched footwork and the exuberant dances excite and engage an audience.  The performers display a pedigreed training and present a version of "folk" that never was. Even though the repertoire is drawn from Poland’s many ethnographic regions, the numbers are a distillation produced for theatrical effect.   
Katarzyna Winiarczyk-Staszyńska
and Soloist Piotr Nikiel
  The company, founded by composer Stanisław Hadyna with choreographer extraordinaire Elwira Kamińska, is made up of professional singers and dancers with a great deal of ballet training.  Hadyna’s compositions are symphonic and neo-classical in structure. In the dancing the emphasis is on the legs, with a generous, expansive upper body and involves acrobatic tricks, jumping and partnered lifts.
   Due to the effects of Hurricane Sandy, which caused a lack of power at the scheduled venue, the presentation I attended was moved to a smaller, less-equipped location with limited theatrical effects.  The first act of the program in particular was “spot-on” – moving quickly with clean, precise dancing and a display of fine performance technique.
  Programs were not handed out, but having seen many performances of this company over the years, I knew each selection.   The performance included Kamińska favorites like the opening Trojak in Rozbar-Bytom costumes, the thrilling Cieszyński Taniec Chustkowy, Czardasz-Szot Madziar, and the Beskid Mountain Kołomajki. 
Beata Pyda - "Karolinka"
  Beata Pyda sang in a clean and clear open-throat vocal tone, while emphasizing the words, in the signature “Karolinka,” and later in “Słoneczko Wyszło.”  Piotr Nikiel was engaging and charming in a beautifully sung “Do Krakowa Jadą” sequence “Moja Marysiu, kochaj mnie.”
Not necessarily one of my personal favorites in the past – Polka Szturchana, a series of Slovak-styled swing dance lifts choreographed by Juraj Kubanka was wonderfully executed and changed my previous perspective of this newer work.

Adam Czechlewski supported
 by Joanna Mokwa
  Over the years, I have seen Kaminska’s stellar Kujawiak z Oberkiemchoreographed with depth and subtle nuance, morph in its interpretation and accent.  Having less effect in its transitions, the dance is less personal and overly exaggerated.  Once performed by the women in light-weight green pleated skirts with a Łowicz apron, the costumes are now fully realized and are duly heavy – which makes the turns less effective.  The fiery acrobatics still entertain and the culminating partnered lift-jump (known as "pistolety") performed by Adam Czechlewski supported by Joanna Mokwa was spectacular.  Usually executed by a compact dancer, Czechlewski’s long line allows the eye to continue further. 
   The entertaining Krakowiak has a change of storyline with regards to the Trumpeter of Kraków/invasion of Tatars sequence – which is less dramatic and historical than what the choreographer originally created. 
   The gem and centerpiece of the program is still the Góralskie Podhale Mountain Dances by Kamińska.  The suite begins authentically in form with couplets sung in biały głos (white voice) style accompanied by dance.  In this opening sequence, soloist Marcin Kędziora – who has an appropriate solid build, dances the steps in the manner that they were intended – with tightness and a weighted association to the earth rarely found in stylized troupes.  From this true base, what follows is a vivid display of true inventiveness and imagination closely related to Hadyna’s music – full of dazzling precision at super-speed.  Closing the first act, this resulted in the first standing ovation by the enthusiastic Philadelphia audience. 
   Śląsk’s artistic performance galvanized the audience with its brand of folk spectacle and pure entertainment.  With vigor, power, and amazing lightness they ignited bravura fireworks with consummate ease.

(11/14/12) UPDATE:  Śląsk returns with a North American tour in March 2013 produced by Canada’s Starvox Entertainment. At presstime the schedule is as follows: 16 -Toronto Canada (2 performances), 17 - Hamilton Canada, 19 – Pittsburgh, PA, 21 – Princeton, NJ, 23 - Bronx, NY (2 performances), 24 - Schenectady NY;  further information on or

STAGE READING: Radiant Love of Maria S.C.