POLONEZ, so many years together.
Polonez was formed in Melbourne in 1965, with the aim of performing and promoting Polish folk and national dances as a means of perpetuating an adherence to, and an understanding of Polish culture, both within the Polish community and the broader Australian context.
The initiator and founder was Zbigniew Czech, in association with the Federation of Polish Associations in Victoria. From the beginning of its existence, Janina Czech was the artistic Director of the Ensemble, also taking on the roles, as required of instructor, choreographer, costume designer and the artistic soul and inspiration behind the Ensemble. Barbara Czech now fulfils these roles, supported by a hardworking auxilliary Group, Friends of Polonez.
There have been almost fifty years of continuous, sustained, enthusiastic and energetic activity of promoting Polish song and dance. Annual full length concerts have been presented at the Union Theatre at the University of Melbourne, at the Alexander Theatre at Monash University, at the National Theatre in St Kilda, and at other venues, including interstate. Marian Maj, as the Ensemble’s first instructor, instilled a dynamic and energetic style of dancing, which the Ensemble demonstrates to this day.
Polonez has always participated in charity and multicultural forums, in Polish commemorative celebrations and in all the PolArt Festivals held all over Australia.
Special memories are held, of its first appearance in the Moomba procession, of its first performance at the Polish Commemorative Concert on the occasion of the Millenium anniversary of Poland’s Christendom at the Melbourne Town Hall, of the first interstate trip to Canberra in 1969, where the concert was held under the patronage of the Governor General, Sir Ninian Stephens, and Lady Stephens requested to become Patron of the Ensemble, until Sir Ninian left Office, of the HELP POLAND LIVE campaign of 1982, where the Ensemble raised over $6000.00, a huge sum for the time, of dancing before the Pope in 1986, of the invitation to Vilnius (Wilno) to participate in the 15th Anniversary of the Kwiaty Polskie (Polish Flowers) Festival in 2003 and the subsequent visit to Poland to dance with local Groups in Warsaw and Poznan.
Frequent concerts interstate were a highlight of early Polonez life, until the PolArt Festivals. Thus Polonez has toured most interstate capital cities, and many Victorian provincial cities as well.
In 2005, 2008 and 2011, large contingents of Polonez members participated in the 13th, 14th and 15th World Festival of Polish Dance Groups held in Rzeszów, Poland in Wilno, Lithuania and Lwów, Ukraine. Prior to and after the Festivals, members travelled on memorable tours through Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine, visiting the main Polish icons including Częstochowa, Auschwitz (Oświecim) and Ostra Brama.
Polonez has participated In all of the Pol-Art Festivals, starting in 1975 in Sydney, circuiting Adelaide, Melbourne, Brisbane, and recently Hobart and the latest, Perth, in 2012.
The Polonez orchestra has been with the Ensemble, and under the direction of Henryk Ruta, since its first concert in 1969 till recently when Henryk Ruta passed away in 2011.
The Złote Dorotki, a vocal section, under the direction of Zosia Kaszubska are an integral part of the Group.
Polonez has been involved with the Polish Debutante Balls from their inception in 1966. These Balls, initially organised by The Polish Community Council, have seen hundreds of young girls make their debut. These balls have combined the best of Polish tradition while evoking the dignity, grace, ceremony and splendour of bygone eras, especially highlighted in their most recent setting of the Malvern Town hall. For most of this time, Janina Czech has prepared the debutantes and their partners, in later years Barbara Czech has continued the tradition.
Polonez has always been a community ensemble, based very much within the core of Polish community life, and gaining its strength from community support., and strong family involvement.
The next few years will be pivotal and unique.We will continue the popular tradition of the bi-annual Debutante balls, to be held at the Malvern Town Hall, in 2015 and 2015
The next Pol-Art Festival will be held in Melbourne in 2015
Polonez will celebrate it’s 50 th anniversary in 2015.