Web Portal Launched for Polish Dancing Enthusiasts
small, Web Portal Launched for Polish Dancing Enthusiasts, Śląsk Group performing a “zbójnicki” dance. Photo: Jan Morek / Forum, zespol_slask_zbojecki_fot_jan_morek_forum.jpg
From salon gavotte, to a casual oberek and the noble polonaise. The history of Polish dances – traditional, old and national – is now being covered in detail on a new cultural website.
The Institute of Music and Dance has launched a new website www.tance.edu.pl, where rich content and media is complemented by detailed descriptions of dances in both Polish and English. There’s also a dictionary explaining choreographic terms, a bibliography, photos, archives, music and video materials and even online dance lessons that can help you with the steps and figures of the polonaise, oberek or other dances. It’s a great online platform not only for choreologists but all dance amateurs, teachers, and past and contemporary Polish culture lovers. The primary part of the website is a database about traditional dances divided into two groups: stylised and non-stylised dances. The division is explained by Dr. Robert Dul:
The first group includes both those dances which are closest to the earliest traditions, performed by the oldest dancers, as well as those separated from their original context and transplanted to the stage. We wish to present as many traditional dances performed without individual displays and choreographic “amendments” as possible in accordance with accessible sources, preserving their original form, something now rarely encountered in the Polish countryside. The majority of dances witnessed in both rural and urban areas feature arrangements for stage ensembles which largely mould their symbolical meanings to the requirements of stage performances. Still, they too provide a valuable contribution to the specificity of individual dance forms.
One particularly interesting part of the website is the dictionary. Useful for everybody regardless of their level of knowledge, the dictionary explains traditional dances and organises our knowledge about them all. Did you know that “szkroboki” are low jumps used in Silesian dances? How about that “cupkanie” is an on-the-spot light stamping at the very end of a performance? In the historical dances section, we find dance forms from as far back as the 15th century, reconstructed here for you from old treatises and records. The website founders say:
Many dance forms encountered in ethnographic and historical literature have not been properly preserved, because their actual forms were inseparably connected with ancient rituals and regional customs. In fact, some dances commonly considered Polish come from other cultures and were merely adapted to local traditions and fashions. Some dances are known only as names and descriptions (sometimes specific enough to be regionally reconstructed and presented on stage). Then there are dances which emerged in the past century or were processed from strict tradition to more contemporary forms for the sake of stage presentations or dancing parties. The classification of film materials to particular categories (e.g. prepared or non-prepared dance; paired or processional dance) has sometimes been done subjectively, demonstrating the indefinite character of such divisions.
Institute of Music and Dance
The project was established for the Year of Oskar Kolberg and is supported by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Sources: press materials, www.tance.edu.pl, edited by AL, translated by ND, Sept 2015