One of the Polish national dances. It comes from the Cracow region, danced in a lively pace, in bar 2/4, with its characteristic syncopated rhythms. It is the only Polish national dance that is not danced at bar 3/4. Initially, the dance was danced only by country folk. With time, however, became so popular that it went not only to the wealthy burgher houses and stately homes, but also spread to the entire country. In terms of its choreography, the krakowiak is set for several couples, among whom the leading male dancer sings and indicates the steps. the krakowiak is directed by the leading man from the first pair. As they approach the band, "the man, tapping his heels or dancing a few steps, sings a melody from an established repertory with newly improvised words addressed to his partner. The band follows the melody, and the couples move off in file and form a circle (with the leading couple back at the band). Thereafter verses are sung and played in alternation, the couples circulating during the played verses.
The Kujawiak is a Polish folk dance from the region of Kujawy in central Poland. It is one of the five national dances of Poland. The music is in tripl e meter and fairly slow. The dance usually involves couples walking gracefully in a quarter- note rhythm, on slightly bended knees, with relaxed turns and gently swaying. Women's Kujawiak dances are also performed. Kujawiaków authentic folk melodies are based on modal scales, which determines their mournful character. Like oberek, the melody is preceded by an introduction. The national form kujawiak, developed outside the country, one can find many of the characteristics typical for the mazur music. Similar is the formation of rhythmic but the pace is slow, melodic dance similar to the design of wide-chilled, gradually rising melodic line.
The oberek, also called obertas or ober, is a lively Polish dance. The name "Oberek" is derived from "obracać się" which in Polish means "to spin". This dance consists of many lifts and jumps. It is performed at a much quicker pace than the Polish waltz and is one of the national dances of Poland. This is the second-most popular dance in Polish- American music, after the polka. The name of dance first was used in 1697, and comes from the way of dancing - from the rotation. The Oberek is the fastest of the Five National Dances of Poland. It was created in Kujawy. The Oberek consists of quick steps and constant turns. The beauty of the oberek depends on each individual dancer's talent of spinning at the fast tempo of the Oberek, which shares some steps with the Mazur.
The mazur and mazurek (i.e. small mazur), or in English mazurka, are general terms for a series of Polish folk dances in triple meter, which originated in the plains of Mazovia around Warsaw. The people of the province were called Mazurs; thus, the dance mazur bears the same name as the male inhabitant of the region. The most characteristic feature of the dance is the presence of the so-called mazurka rhythms, which occur in a variety of non-dancing songs and dances from the central and western parts of Poland. There are a number of basic steps: bieg mazurowy (running step), sideways step, sliding step, and the hołubiec (clicking heels together, similar to the step in the krakowiak). There are also many hand positions, figures, and turns that could be used by couples performing this dance. A different set of group figures is available for ensembles. Thus, the dance leaves much room for the creativity of its choreographer and the spontaneity of individual dancers. Since there are at least four different socio-historical versions of the mazur (17th-century nobility, 19th-century patriotic society, peasants from central Poland, regional varieties from western and south-central Poland, etc.), there are a variety of costumes available for performance. Polskie Iskry, 1980s. If the version of the nobility is chosen (at times to music from the classical tradition, e.g. the Mazur from Stanisław Moniuszko's The Haunted Manor), the clothing should be that of the 17th-century Polish nobility wearing fur-lined jackets (kontusz) and hats. (For more information about this type of costume, see the entry on polonaise). The Polskie Iskry wear a stylization of this costume with women wearing shorter skirts and different shoes that would have been used by the Polish gentry.polonaise The "high-society" mazur may also be performed by the 19th-century Polish legionists (in Napoleonic uniforms, and special square hats bearing the national emblem, an eagle on the front) and their charming partners in Empire gowns, long gloves and at times light, flowing scarves covering their almost-bare shoulders (see polonaise for a more detailed description of this costume).polonaise Costume from Mazovia, Kolberg, The folk versions of the mazur, especially from central Poland, could feature the costumes of different regional varieties, for instance the boldly colored, striped skirts and capes of women from the Łowicz area in central Mazowsze, or any other type of the Mazovian costume (of which there are several). The regional costumes used by Polish folk dance ensembles differ considerably from historically documented clothes worn by peasants from the region in the 19th century, for instance the couple from Raszyn, near Warsaw, as represented in Oskar Kolberg's Pieśni ludu polskiego (1857). Nonetheless, the dance groups prefer to present the mazur as the dance of the nobility, reserving the folk costumes for performances of the faster and slower variants, i.e. the oberek and kujawiak. It is also possible to find mazur-type dances in Wielkopolska, Małopolska, or Lubelskie - indeed, with the richness of costumes and the variety of variants available, the mazur truly is a national dance and may appear in suites of dances from all these regions. MUSIC Mazurs, obereks, and other dances from this group are in triple meter and contain the mazurka rhythms consisting of a pattern of two sixteenths followed by two eighth-notes (in a three-eighths meter), i.e. two short and two long notes. The mazurka rhythm. In Polish folk music the basic pattern is derived from 8-, 7- or 6- syllable verses of the mazur folk song; the strophes are structured regularly and consist of four verses set in eight measures of the music. (The pattern of eight measures in three-eighths meter is reproduced on the left, with the beginning of the next system marked at the left, in the third line). In the music, strong accents are irregularly placed on the second or third beat of the measure. There is also a marked tendency to end the phrase on the dominant pitch located on an unaccented third beat in the measure. The tempi vary greatly between the various types of the dance, and also geographically (the dances are faster in southern Poland than in the northern part of the country). The oberek or obertas is usually the fastest, with MM= ; while the regular mazur is performed in the tempo range of MM = (the kujawiak is still slower). Mazur from Kolberg, The music consists of two or four parts, each part having six or eight bars, and each part is repeated. According to Helena Windakiewiczowa, the mazurka also has a melodic structure based on such schemes as AABB, AABC, AAAB or ABBB. The accompaniment to the earliest mazurkas was played on the dudy, i.e. a folk bagpipe, which produced either one drone (the tonic) or two (the tonic and dominant). A singer would then improvise the melody, and sometimes even the text of the couplets, to this stable accompaniment. The most common ensemble performing in the Mazowsze region consists of a violin, a large drum (as depicted below, from the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw), and later, a Polish folk accordion (with three registers, harmonia trzyrzędowa), and clarinet. Drums, Ethnographic Museum, Warsaw. Folk fiddlers often play many variants of the same melody, with different, elaborate ornamentation in each of the variants. There are differences from one part of the region to another, including the areas centered around cities of Płock, Łowicz, Skierniewice, Rawa, and the southern Mazowsze. In terms of pitch organization, many Polish folksongs, including the mazurka, are modal, in the Lydian mode with a sharpened 4th; the first six notes of this mode were sometimes known as the "Polish mode." The introduction of the mazurka to art music is usually credited to Fryderyk Chopin, though his predecessors included Maria Szymanowska, and others. While Chopin's borrowings from folk, urban, or salon types of the mazurka have been extensively discussed by scholars (e.g. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, Elżbieta Witkowska, Barbara Milewski), certain melodic, harmonic, rhythmic and formal traits point to their close relationship with the idiosyncratic features of the folk mazur-type dances. Several stylized mazurs of the nobility appear in the stage music of Stanisław Moniuszko (operas Halka and Straszny Dwór [The Haunted Manor]). Other Polish composers interested in the mazurka include Aleksander Tansman, Karol Szymanowski, and Roman Maciejewski. In America, the mazurka (the title was usually in this spelling) appeared in 1840s; salon composers wrote the mazurkas as dances associated with Poland and its celebrated loss of independence, or as fashionable dances dedicated to society ladies. In some variants the mazurka is crossed with the polka - a salon dance, not its folk counterpart. Aleksander Janta lists about 30 mazurkas in his study of nineteenth-century American-Polish music (1982, 128); one publication describes the mazurka as a Russified dance: "The Mazourka is the national dance of Poland, and was introduced into Russia when the Russians subjected Poland. The Russians dance, or rather walk, the Mazourka with a dignified air, but they lack the natural animation and graceful ease adapted by the Poles" (from an 1845 New York edition of A Set of Mazurkas and a Set of Polkas by Coote and Glover). SOURCES OF MATERIAL Burhardt, Stefan. Polonez. Katalog Tematyczny (Polonaise: Thematic catalogue), 3 vols. Kraków: PWM Edition, Dąbrowska, Grażyna. Taniec ludowy na Mazowszu [Folk dance in Mazovia]. Kraków: PWM Edition, Dziewanowska, Ada. Polish Folk Dances & Songs: A Step by Step Guide. New York: Hippocrene Books, Harley, Maria Anna. "Dance as a National Symbol: Polish Dance in Southern California." Project for Southern California Studies Center at USC, August Janta, Aleksander. A History of Nineteenth Century American-Polish Music. New York: The Kościuszko Foundation, Kolberg, Oskar: Pieśni ludu polskiego [Songs of the Polish people], vol. 1 of Dzieła Wszystkie [Complete Works]. Wrocław-Poznań: Polskie Towarzystwo Ludoznawcze, Reprint of a 1857 publication. "Mazur, mazurek," entry in Encyklopedia Muzyki PWN. Warszawa: PWN, "Mazurka," entry in the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, vol. 11. Stanley Sadie, ed. London: McMillan, Windakiewiczowa, Halina. Wzory polskiej muzyki ludowej w mazurkach Fryderyka Chopina. [Patterns of Polish folk music in F. Chopin's mazurkas]. Warsaw, Illustrations from Polish folk art (straw cutouts); Zofia Stryjeńska's 1927 "Mazur" image; photographs from the PMC Collection and from archival material gathered for M.A. Harley's Polish Dance in Southern California project. and Southern California Studies Center at USC.
The polonaise (Polish: polonez) is a slow dance of Polish origin, in 3/4 time. Its name is French for "Polish." The polonaise had a rhythm quite close to that of the Swedish semiquaver or sixteenth-note polska, and the two dances have a common origin. Polonaise is a widespread dance in carnival parties. Polonaise is always a first dance at a studniówka ("hundred-days"), the Polish equivalent of the senior prom that occurs approximately 100 days before exams. Polonaise was probably formed during the coronation ceremony of Henry of Valois in 1574, the dance was intended to show the King to the whole court, walking in a slow step before the throne. The polonaise is usually danced in costumes of the Polish nobility of the 17th century (the kontusz jackets); some groups present their polonaises in costumes from the period of the Duchy of Warsaw ( ) established by Napoleon before his defeat in 1815 (empire dresses, cavalry uniforms).