This year Polish Fest is proud to showcase the talents of a number of folk dance groups throughout the city and throughout the community. We are extremely happy to have such wonderful talent at the event and we invite you to see them all live.
The Polish School of Dance Sokół has been working constantly since the 1970s and has always been associated with the Polish Gymnastic Association Sokół Winnipeg. The founder of the School was the late Gladys Kulas and for nearly 50 years the Polish School of Dance Sokół has worked under the guidance of excellent choreographers and instructors. Since 2010, Ania Wesołowska -Kulbi ńska has been the Artistic Director and Choreographer of the School and is assisted by instructors Justyna Paprocki and Veronika Wierzbicki. The Polish School of Dance Sokół cultivates Polish culture and Polish traditions. We try our hardest to keep Polish culture alive and well in Winnipeg. Within the School there are almost 60 children ranging from ages 3 -18. Practices are held 1 -2 times a week. During practices the children are taught various dance styles such as jazz and hip hop as well as traditional Polish folk dance.
Polish Song & Dance Ensemble Lajkonik, Chicago, Illinois
The Polish Song & Dance Ensemble Lajkonik, or Lajkonik for short, is a group which focuses on promoting Polish folk culture through artistic dances, passionate songs, and colourful performances. Lajkonik was founded in the fall of 1991 to foster Polish culture and tradition in the United States. Lajkonik’s four performing groups present a variety of national and regional Polish dances, which feature traditional dynamic steps and songs sung in the original language. The Lajkonik, which describes a masquerading Tatar warrior on his horse, became a symbol of Poland’s victory over the Tatars in 1241, and still plays an important role in the Krakowiak, the traditional dance of the people of Krakow. The Lajkonik dancers have graced many stages including those of the Chicago Public Libraries, the Chicago Cultural Center, the Children’s Museum, Daley Plaza, the Taste of Chicago, Millennium Park, Navy Pier, and Polish Fest in Milwaukee. Lajkonik has represented the Chicago Polish community four times at the International Folk Dance Festival in Rzeszów, Poland. Additionally, Lajkonik has participated in the International Youth Folk Dance Festival in Iwonicz Zdroj, Poland. In 2006 Lajkonik celebrated its 15th anniversary with a Gala Concert: “Znaszli ten kraj” – roughly, taking your homeland to heart, which received very enthusiastic reviews.
Sokol Polish Folk Ensemble
The Sokół choir was originally formed by members of the Sokół Association as early as 1908, but have adopted the year of their first public Canadian performance in 1914 as their official beginning. It was in 1925 that the Ensemble had its first choreographer, who created a small dance group who performed with the choir. Together, the group has flourished for over 100 years, making it one of the oldest folklore ensembles in the Americas. The Ensemble has performed across Canada, the United States as well as several times in Poland, most recently being in 2014, where the dancers represented Winnipeg and Sokół at the International Festival of Polish Folklore in Rzeszów, Poland. At their most recent performance, Songs of Warsaw, the Ensemble’s Musical Director, Tadeusz Biernacki, was awarded the Gold Cross of Merit through the hands of Consul Andrew Janik from Toronto representing Poland. The Gold Cross of Merit is a symbol of Tadeusz's outstanding cultural work in promoting Polish culture through song and dance in North America.
The Polish Dance Ensemble SPK Iskry was founded in 1967 by Mr. Henryk Lorenc to mark the centennial of Canadian Confederation. Iskry (translated into English as "sparks") prides itself on reserving Polish culture and ethnic tradition through song and dance. Presently, Iskry's wardrobe boasts over 15 different costumes depicting the numerous regions of Poland. Iskry has had the thrill of entertaining and captivating audiences across North America and Europe with a repertoire rich in depth. Some highlights of Iskry's 50 year career include performing at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Quebec and participating in the prestigious World Festival of Polish Folk Dance and Song in Rzeszow, Poland during the summers of 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2011, 2014 and 2017. Each summer, Iskry performs for thousands of visitors at the Polish Pavilion â€“ a mainstay of Canadaâ€™s multicultural festival Folklorama in Winnipeg.
In 2011, members of Czerwona Rzeka were attending an international folk festival in Rzeszów, Poland, where they experienced live music at the kapela parties. Feeling a void in Winnipeg, in 2012, Czerwona Rzeka was formed. Czerwona Rzeka, translated to "Red River" in English, focuses on traditional folk music from Eastern Europe; Poland, Czech, Slovakia, Hungary, and more. A lot of work has been put in, as no members had previous experience with any of the instruments, and the repertoire continues to grow and expand as the band plays with professional musicians during workshops and visits to Poland, Hungary, and other folk festivals worldwide.
Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus
Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus was founded in 1969 by alumni of the former St. Vladimir's College (Minor Seminary) in Roblin, Manitoba. Hoosli's main objectives today are to contribute to Canadian culture by promoting and preserving Ukrainian and Ukrainian-Canadian cultural traditions. Over the past 48 years, more than 175 men have poured their hearts and souls into Hoosli, and have helped pass on the fire and spirit of the Kozaky to this day. Hoosli has performed all over North America, recorded eight albums, and continually inspires audiences with the majestic sound of four-part male harmony. Hoosli continues to show its dedication to the Ukrainian heritage through its repertoire of liturgical music and folk songs, as well as the patriotic songs of Ukraine and the Kozaky.
Selo Ukrainian Dancers
'Selo' is the Ukrainian word for 'village’ and is the perfect name for the group who had its humble beginnings in the village of Anola, Manitoba. From elegant turns, spins and lifts, to acrobatic leaps and cossack high kicks, Selo's stage performance incorporates the many different regions of kraine, combining them into breathtaking performances. The group has performed at two of North Americaʼs premier Ukrainian Festivals - Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin, Manitoba and the Soyuzivka Ukrainian Cultural Festival in New York. The dancers have also performed at the House of Ukraine -Ukrainian Festival in San Diego, California. In 2012, the Selo Ukrainian Dancers were commissioned to perform in Winnipeg, Manitoba for His Beatitude Patriarch Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a synod of over 40 bishops from all over the world. The troupe has even taken their talents overseas to Croatia, Austria, and Hungary.
The Winnipeg Steel Orchestra plays a variety of instruments and music focusing on Reggae and Calypso rhythms from Caribbean islands. The group’s drums create the many sounds of an orchestra and they accompany Caribbean choirs, singers, and dancers as part of their performances. The group promotes the appreciation and preservation of Caribbean steel band music as a contribution to the development of Canada’s culture. The Winnipeg Steel Orchestra has been playing steel drums as an ensemble since 1972. Audiences always enjoy the group’s wonderful music as they have performed at festivals and events across Canada and the United States.
Hrvatska Zora, Croatian Dawn Winnipeg
Established in 1972 under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Parish Sv. Nikola Tavelic in Winnipeg, Hrvatska Zora continues its commitment to the preservation of Croatian culture. We continue to entertain, educate and fascinate both Croatians and non-Croatians alike with our beautiful costumes, music and choreographies. Introducing the various generations to those songs and dances brings Croatia a little closer, keeping our culture alive and strong in the hearts of generations to come.
Aboriginal School of Dance
Since making their explosive debut more than 10 years ago, the Aboriginal School of Dance has become the #1 choice for multicultural entertainment and educational programming for 13 school divisions and over 100 organizations and businesses. The Aboriginal School of Dance is known for energetic and innovative choreography that provokes an intense emotional experience for audiences of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Training young people as professional performers and providing them with skills to be independent, the Aboriginal School of Dance was built on the traditional values of integrity, respect, and community as well as imagination, creativity, and most importantly – the purpose: our youth. Founded by accomplished dancer choreographer, and entrepreneur Buffy Handel, this Winnipeg - based group is recognized for high quality Aboriginal artistic entertainment and educational programming and presentations.
A bboy crew that began in 2007, Gago Brothers (GB) have been representing the Winnipeg bboy scene since its inception. Gago Brothers have battled and performed within and outside the city -traveling across the country to represent themselves, each as diverse individual dancers, and together as a crew. With new additional members to the team, Gago Brothers have become a strong contender within the Winnipeg bboy scene –with members winning recent competitions in the city.
Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers
The Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers have a passion for dance, not just any dance but the Red River Jig and Square dance in which they love performing and bringing entertainment to people everywhere they go. They like to consider themselves to be inspirational dancers who enjoy spreading and sharing their Metis culture through the Red River Jig. The Jig was established in the late 1700s and has been carried down through generations of past dancers. As a result, we have this great group of young people carrying on the Metis tradition. The group was founded and lead by Michael "Slick" Harris back in 2010 and formally known as the United Steppers. It is with great sadness but an honour to rename the group the Ivan Flett Memorial Dancers. Ivan was a proud supporter and took great pride in these dancers and he was also the Grand Father to three members of the group. Every dance that is performed is in honour of him, he will be greatly missed and never forgotten.