Slonim dances polonaise

Slonim — known as the city of polonaises — gathers lovers of this ancient dance for its 12th open regional Polonaise-2016 Festival

Slonim — known as the city of polonaises — gathers lovers of this ancient dance for its 12th open regional Polonaise-2016 Festival


Bright trip along Slonim’s streets


The city is reviving its traditions, having been a Northern Athens in the 18th century, thanks to the benevolent work of Michal Kazimir Oginski. The city boasted not only a theatre and famous orchestra but the first ballet school in Eastern Europe. Michal Kleofas Oginski, who composed the famous Farewell to Homeland polonaise, loved to stay with his uncle, who was a true art lover and headed the city with aplomb. Michal was much inspired by his time spent in this, his favourite city.

A costumed parade through the ancient city’s streets began by the historical fire-observation tower where, until 1939, the Oginski polonaise was performed every morning and evening. This year’s festival was attended, for the first time, by guests from five countries: Belarus, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Germany. We can say that it has truly become international.


Leonarda Rewkowska
Accompanied by solemn drumming, Slonim residents gave a warm welcome to artistes of all ages, who united in parading to the Centre of Culture and Recuperation. Traffic was stopped to allow the passing of the jovial gathering, which began its tradition just twelve years ago, initiated by a small group of enthusiasts, led by the Chair of the Slonim Department of the Union of Poles in Belarus, Leonarda Rewkowska. She tells us, “This is a special day for me and I’m happy to see that the polonaise is alive. We began modestly but our good idea immediately found response in Slonim residents’ hearts. We’re now working on a much larger level, and I’m grateful to the district and regional executive committees for their support. They’ve taken the lion’s share of the financial and organisational burden. Happily, we — Poles of Belarus — have the opportunity to develop our culture and bring the art of the polonaise far beyond our region.”

Edmund Siemienowicz, from a Lithuanian dance group, was attending for the first time. He tells us, “We’ve heard much of the Slonim festival and are delighted to be here. The local atmosphere is wonderful and the level is high. I hope our polonaise will conquer hearts.” His team performed at the end of the festival, which united over two-dozen concert performances.

Oleg Targonsky, the Chairman of the Slonim District Executive Committee, delivered a speech from the stage, saying “We’re convinced that it’s wise to hold this forum in Slonim, as the city boasts rich cultural traditions. The talented and dedicated people who support Slonim residents contribute to its spiritual unity.”

In turn, the Chairman of the Belarusian Union of Poles, Mechislav Lysy, notes that many cultural events have been held throughout Belarus in the 25 years of his Union’s existence but that the Slonim forum is among the most spiritual. Meanwhile, a polish poet from Berlin, Roman Brodowski, came to Belarus intentionally to visit the festival and recited his poem devoted to the Slonim polonaise, with great emotion.



Performance of the artists

Dance groups from various countries performed one of the most beautiful dances, with Polish roots; it has already conquered Europe. Vocal and instrumental bands also developed the theme of the polonaise. Audiences, who heartily welcomed contestants from abroad, needed no interpreter to understand the deep sense of the polonaise. The festival has penetrated neighbouring states’ consciousness, thanks to Slonim residents’ efforts.


FIGURES:


Dance groups from various countries performed one of the most beautiful dances, with Polish roots; it has already conquered Europe. Vocal and instrumental bands also developed the theme of the polonaise. Audiences, who heartily welcomed contestants from abroad, needed no interpreter to understand the deep sense of the polonaise.

By Yelena Semenova

Photo: Joseph Popko
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