Guest Author - Barbara Swiech
Folk culture was for some time, when Poland did not exist on the map, perceived as the tool to keep the national identity. The artists, so much avoiding the theme of poor citizens, started to make the villagers main characters of their works. In the time of technical development, when citizens of villages would flee to cities in search of better life conditions, folk culture was in danger. Although we live nowadays in the world of internet, cheap flights and mobile phones, although folk culture seems not to be fashionable at all (if one can use this word in connection with any culture), there are still some people who try to keep it and promote it.
Although Mazowsze the Polish Song and Dance Ensemble was created by the decree of Ministry of Culture and Art in 1948, its idea was born much before. During bombing of Warsaw in WW II two people – Tadeusz Sygietynski (great composer and lover of folk culture) and Mira Ziminska-Sygietynska (actress) – promised each other that if they survive the war they will found a folk group (that Tadeusz Stryjenski had dreamt of for a long time). Together with their two other friends, they started to search for folk clothes, music and gifted youth. They gathered young members of the group in the palace called Karolin, nearby Warsaw. After 2 years, in 1950, the group was ready to give their first performance on the stage of Polish Theatre in Warsaw. At first their repertoire was based on folk music and dances from Central Poland but with time they started to use folk music from all over Poland. Already a year later Mazowsze started their world tour reaching Soviet Union and later on giving concerts in France and United States of America.
Throughout the years there have been many outstanding individuals that started their career in Mazowsze Folk Group (i.e. actors and actresses). The ensemble consists of ballet, choir and orchestra. The group has given out already 6.5 thousand concerts during over 200 tournée around the world and performed in almost 200 places of Poland. The melodies used by Mazowsze come from approximately 40 ethnic parts of Poland but the group tends to use now also music from other countries. In the place that gave the beginning of Mazowsze ensemble - palace of Karolin – there are plans to form European Centre for Promotion of Regional and National Culture. The centre aims at educating of future culture educators from all around the world.
Mazowsze ensemble is, however, not only about songs and dance. It is also about beautiful national (or more precisely regional) costumes used in accordance with music. It shows the richness and beauty of folk culture and gets wider audience closer to the world that is known now mostly from movies and books.