Groups in Southern California

Polish Folk Dance Ensemble

History People Repertoire


The repertoire of Krakusy has undergone siginficant changes through over 40 years of the group's existence. New choreographers brought new dances with them and the initial growth of the repertoire reflected the influx of choreographers and dancers whose experiences and talents have enriched and transformed Krakusy.

Krakusy middle group dancing Krakowiak at the 40th Anniversary Concert in 1998 (left to right: Alina Wilson, Szymon Leszczynski, Zofia Slusarz, Michal Sawina, Artur Krzus, Karolina Sasorska, Marcin Zimakowski, Angelika Wilson, Mateusz Biernat, Joanna Biala and Kamil Mika)
    At the very beginning, most of the dances performed by Krakusy were direct copies of dances from the Polish State Song and Dance Ensembles, Mazowsze and Śląsk (see Prof. Trochimczyk's report "Polish Dance in Southern California" for more details).

    At present, only a small number of the Krakusy dances is based on the repertoire of large groups presenting stylized folklore, i.e. the Mazowsze and Śląsk. Most of the dances in the repertoire of Krakusy are based on dances actually performed in the specified regions of Poland with very little stylization.

At the beginning of the group's existence, the repertoire was limited to a few dances such as Krakowiak and Polonez, currently the repertoire of Krakusy contains over 16 folk dances and 3 non-Polish dances. The first stage in the evolution of the repertoire took place thanks to the arrival of a former dancer of the Mazowsze ensemble, Maryla Klimek-George. She taught the group the stylized dances from the repertoire of the large state group. These dances were transformed into regional scenes, each in a different costume, and each based on a suite of several melodies. At times there was also a quasi-narrative, often of a romantic kind. The repertoire of the group was enriched with dances of the Podhale area when a new dancer arrived with his expertise and a talent for spectacular leaps and acrobatic figures (that usually do not occur in folk dances of the area and typically constitute an addition based on Soviet choreography and Russian folk dances).

Krakusy oldest group dancing Goralski-1999 (visible in the foreground: Anna Habrat and Andrzej Fitkowski, visible in the background: Joanna Slusarz and Stefan Perzyna)
    In 1998 the famous choreographer from Rzeszow, Poland, Edward Hoffman came to work with Krakusy. He changed almost all of the dances in the repertoire into less stylized, authentic dances danced to authentic music played on folk instruments rather than the professionally recorded music to which Krakusy's previous dances were performed.

In order to make their dances as authentic as possible, Krakusy have worked with many famous choreographers, experts on dances and songs from particular regions. Krakusy has also traveled to Poland most recently in the summers of 1998 and 2000, where, besides a performing at many festivals and concerts, Krakusy has hired local instructors and choreographers to work on their dances and make them as authentic as possible. In the summer of 2000, Krakusy learned a new Nowy Sącz Suite and a new Góralski suite.

Krakusy middle group in the Vienese Waltz-2000 (from left to right: Krzysztof Pawlik, Joanna Turlik, Maurycy Sarosiek, Zofia Slusarz, Maciej Ladowicz, Angelika Wilson, Artur Krzus, Danusia Perzyna, Michal Sawina, Joanna Slusarz, Mikolaj Przybylski, Alina Wilson, Konrad Szupinski, Marta Dudek) (picture courtesy of Wincenty Przybylski)
    Krakusy's repertoire is not limited to only Polish Folk dances. They also have an extensive Mexican Dance Suite performed for the first time at the Rzeszow Festival in the summer of 1996. Krakusy also has a Vienese Waltz danced to the music of Tchaikovsky's Waltz of the Flowers. Most recently, they have added a Swing dance to their repertoire.


The 1998 40th Anniversary Concert held in the San Gabriel Civic Auditorium on March 21, 1998 was a performance of the following dances:

  • "Polonez Rycerski (Knight's Polonaise)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Polonez, a national dance, is considered one of the Polish nobility. Although it originated from a 17th century village dance, folk characteristics were eliminated as Polish szlachta (gentry) adopted it. The dance caught foreign attention in manor houses and ballrooms. During the 19th century La Polonaise reached the French stage in ballet form. Polonez is today used at the openings and closings of balls.

    Krakusy oldest group in Polonez-1999 (in the front: Zofia Slusarz, Konrad Szupinski

  • "Poleczka (Little Polka)"; Youngest Group. Choreographed by Renata Perzyna.

    The Polka is a very lively dance popular all over Poland. The youngest of Krakusy turn it into delightful games and play.

  • "Mazur (Mazurka)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Renata Perzyna.

    A Polish national dance, Mazur combines speed and vigor with dignity. Despite the constant fast steps, the couples must retain perfect carriage and poise, characterizing Mazur as a dance of nobility. Having developed from a 17th century folk dance, it progressed much like Polonez. Mazur eventually led to foreign versions known as Mazurkas all over Europe.

    Krakusy oldest group in Mazur-1999 (left to right: Renata Perzyna, Konrad Szupinski, Anna Habrat, Marek Fitkowski, Barbara Sowa, Piotr Sidoruk)

  • "Trojak (Triple Dance)"; Junior Group. Choreographed by Renata Perzyna.

    A dance in which two women compete for the attention of one man, Trojak is a popular dance throughout Poland. It originated in the coal-filled Górny Śląsk (Upper Silesia) region in the southwest of Poland. Although lively, Trojak never becomes earthy or vulgar; it is danced with a certain aspect of reservation and prudence.

  • "Tańce Lachów Sądeckich (Dances of the Sącz Lachy Region"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    These dances are for the most part turning polkas done in a variety of ways. The polkas and slow and quick waltzes are broken by antics of men showing off with squats. Every man wants to be the vest, adding extra stomps or shouts at will. The cross dance Krzyzok demonstrates Poland's deep roots in Christianity.

  • "Gaik (Maypole)"; Youngest group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Girls decorated a pine branch with colorful ornaments to greet spring. The branch is a symbol of strength and vitality and is walked around the village after Easter, while the girls sing a song in praise of the tree.

    Krakusy youngest group in Gaik-2000 (first row: Monika Ratajczak, Natalia Perzyna, second row: Kasia Ladowicz)

  • "Tańce Lubelskie (Dances of the Lublin Region)"; Junior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    The Lubelszczyzna region is in the southeast of Poland. These dances display a variety of rhythms and tempos, the dancers constantly changing the direction of movement. A variety of figures can be noticed in succession; among them a variety of waltzes and fast polkas.

    Krakusy middle group in Lublin-1999 (visible in the front: Zofia Slusarz and Michal Sawina, Alina Wilson and Artur Krzus)

  • "Tańce Beskidzkie (Dances of the Beskidy Mountains)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    The Beskidy Mountain range is located in southern Poland. Showing off to one another, the men and women often dance separately. But they can also be rancorous. In one part of the dance, the men scold the women (through song) for not sweeping the house floor. The women come back with a sharp reply that the men have never made a broom.

    Krakusy in Beskid-1999 (from left to right: Marek Fitkowski, Stanislaw Skimina, Piotr Sidoruk, George Chmielarski, Konrad Szupinski, Andrzej Fitkowski , second row: Dorota Habrat, Anna Heberlein)

  • "Tańce Starej Warszawy (Dances of 1920's Warsaw)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    This is a scene from in between the two World Wars. The working class of Warszawa meets in the courtyard of the city, clad in mismatched outfits, bits of which are borrowed from their unsuspecting employers. They mimic the dancers of their masters: a waltz, sztajerek, tango and polka. Never having been taught properly, they watch each other and embellish the faulty steps.

    Krakusy in Dances of 1920's Warsaw-1997 (in the front: Joanna Szupinska and Marek Fitkowski)

  • "Tańce Górali Skalnych (Dances of the Highlanders)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    These dances developed in the Tatra Mountains. They are full of bravado and vigor, characterized by very small, precise steps. The baca, or leading shepherd of the village, calls out commands to the rest of the men during the dance. The ciupagi (mountain hatchets) are incorporated into their antics.

  • "Dyngus (Sprinkling)"; Youngest Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Young village boys go from house to house singing greetings to the landowners. They are treated with cakes and sometimes coins. At the same time, they try to sprinkle the girls of the house with water to bring them health and luck.

  • "Tańce Krościeńskie (Dances from Krosno)"; Junior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Originating in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, Krosno dances are composed of a variety of polkas and other dances such as the chodzony or "walking dance". In Jacok the girls nod their heads from side to side to the beat, letting the little head ornament bob back and forth.

    Krakusy middle group in Krosno-1998 (left to right: Zofia Slusarz, Michal Sawina, Konrad Turlik)

  • "Tańce Rzeszowskie (Dances from the Rzeszów Region)"; Senior Group. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Rzeszów is in the southeastern part of Poland. The many varied polkas are done to simple flirtatious and teasing songs between men and women. Polkas here are all done on slightly bent knees and flat feet. In one scene, a woman indignantly scolds a town drunkard, only to receive a rude reply.

  • "Taniec ze Strachem (Dance With the Scarecrow-from the Kujawy region)"; solo. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman.

    Full of romance, this dance is a Polish version of the Beauty and the Beast story coming from the Łowicz region. The girl is dancing a Kujawiak when she is suddenly startled and moves away. Realizing it is only a scarecrow, she takes its hat and, daydreaming, dances about with it. As she places the hat back on the scarecrow, he comes to life. It was the boy she is in love with only playing a trick on her. They dance an Oberek (turning dance) together.

    Krakusy soloists Zofia Slusarz and Maurycy Sarosiek performing Dance With the Scarecrow- 2000

  • "Tańce Łowickie (Dances from the Łowicz Region)"; Senior Group. Choreography from Mazowsze Polish State Dance Ensemble.

    The Łowicz region is at the heart of the country in a fertile valley of the Mazowsze area. Women embroider brilliant flowers onto their white linen sleeves and collars. They hold their arms out gracefully during the dances to show off their handiwork. The colorful stripes on the women's skirts and aprons and on the men's pants represent the farmers' fields. During the colder times of the year, women wear their heavy wool aprons as capes to keep themselves warm. A lively Oberek follows the slow and romantic Kujawiak.

    Krakusy oldest group dancing Łowicz in Kraków, Poland-1996

  • "Krakowiak z Lajkonikiem (Cracovian Dances and the Entrance of the Lajkonik)"; first each of the three groups separately, then all of the three groups together for the ending. Choreographed by Edward Hoffman and Renata Perzyna.

    Nobility adopted Krakowiak, a national dance from the previous Polish capital city of Kraków (Cracow), from country folk. Under royal influence it acquired its war dance characteristics. At one time, only men danced it. The songs that accompany the dance speak of love, war, and praise the richness of the costume, the charm of the girls, or beauty of the Kraków townscape. The portrayal of Lajkonik (horse and rider) dates back to the 13th century when Poland was attacked by Tartars. They approached during the Corpus Christi procession. The Tartars captured Zwierzyniec, a part of Kraków, but were finally defeated under a leader known as flisak (raftsman). He was honored and triumphantly led into the city dressed in the spoils taken from a Tartar commander. In memory of this victory, Lajkonik enters the gates of Kraków during the Corpus Christi with a scepter in his hand, the man seated on a magnificently decorated paper-mache horse beneath Sztandar Bratectwa Flisaków - a flag bearing the symbol of the raftsmen brotherhood.

    Krakusy youngest group in Krakowiak at the 40th Anniversary Concert in 1998

Bibliography PMC Main Dance Page Other Dance Links
Polish Music Center Flora L. Thornton School of Music
University of Southern California Southern California Studies Center

Copyright 1999 by the Polish Music Center.
Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@usc.edu
This page created by Maja Trochimczyk.
Editorial Assistance: Joanna Slusarz. Updated in February 2001 by Joanna Slusarz.
Illustrations from Polish folk art (straw cutouts);
PMC Collection; Krakusy Archives (courtesy of Bogna Szupinska,
Kazimierz and Henryka Cybulski, Wincenty Przybylski).