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Polonez Song & Dance Ensemble

The POLONEZ Song and Dance Ensemble  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 both 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 auxiliary Group, Friends of Polonez

There have been more than fifty five 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, Monash University, at the National Theatre in St Kilda, at the Clocktower Centre, Moonee Ponds and at other venues, including regional Victoria and 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 every PolArt Festival held in 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 Millennium 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, with the full diplomatic corps in attendance. 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 subsequently to visit Poland to dance and perform with local Groups in Warsaw and Poznan, of the unforgettable and extremely touching and emotional concerts at the Siemens Arena in Wilno, in 2005, at the Grand Theatre in Lwów, in 2008, and of our own 50th Anniversary concerts in 2015. 

Frequent concerts interstate were a highlight of early POLONEZ life, until the PolArt Festivals. Thus POLONEZ has toured all interstate capital cities, and many Victorian provincial cities, including Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Maryborough, Wangaratta, Wodpnga and Lindenow. 

In 2005, 2008 and 2011, large contingents of POLONEZ members participated in the 13th, 14th and 15th  World Festivals 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 throughout Poland, Lithuania and the Ukraine, visiting the main Polish icons including Częstochowa,  Auschwitz (Oświecim) and Ostra Brama (Wilno, Lithuania).

POLONEZ has participated In all of the Pol-Art Festivals, starting in 1975 in Sydney, circuiting Adelaide, Brisbane, Hobart, Perth and, of course, Melbourne, where POLONEZ played a pivotal role in the organisation of the 13th PolArt held in Melbourne in 2015. 

POLONEZ has been involved with the Polish Debutante Balls from their inception in 1966. These balls, have seen hundreds of young girls make their debut. They 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 at the Malvern Town hall. For many years, Janina Czech prepared the debutantes and their partners, in later years Barbara Czech has continued this tradition.

With Junior and Intermediate dance sections, a singing Group and a folk styled village band, 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 Debutante balls, celebrate our Anniversaries in style, 2020 being our 55th Anniversary, and of course, continue to celebrate and promote our beautiful Polish folk tradition and culture with pride and passion.