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Wiesniacy - meaning country folk - are a traditional Polish Folklore Song and Dance Group based in Birmingham, in the heart of the British West Midlands. There are over 70 regions in Poland, each with their own distinctive dances and costumes, as well as original melodies and beautiful songs. These have developed over centuries and reflect the many facets of Polish history and culture.
The group was formed in 1949, by a group of recently arrived Polish refugees who wanted to recreate a part of their homeland which they sorely missed. Over the years Wiesniacy has grown, and like every group has had it's ups and downs. The people in Wiesniacy vary in age from 13 to 36 (or until they "retire"). Nearly all the people in the group are Polish, but that's not a prerequisite. As long as you enjoy the music, the dance and the culture - all are welcome! The group now consists of over 30 members - and is still growing!
Individuals do not profit from paid performances. The tuition and time spent working and performing is entirely voluntary and unpaid. All proceeds from performances or fund-raising are ploughed back into making and creating new dances and costumes.
There is also a younger group aged between 6 and 12 which ensures that the group continues for many more years to come, carrying on the Polish cultures that we all know and love.
Wiesiancy's dances are authentic, and choreographed by the groups artistic director Miss Danuta Sujecka, maintaining the groups high standards. She has been taught by some of the world's best Polish folklore choreographers and has also "graduated", gaining a Diploma as an instructor of Polish Folklore, a high teaching accolade.
Wiesniacy's choir is taught by Marek Sujecki. Marek and Danuta are a hard working brother and sister team.
The music that the group uses for all its songs and dances, is all arranged and prepared by Marek. This involves scoring and arranging all the music for both the choir and the musicians (known as the "kapela"). The kapela is a Polish folk band that is always present during Wiesniacy's performances, not only accompanying the singing and the dancing but also performing as a separate entity in their own right!
The kapela consists of 1st and 2nd violins, a clarinet, double bass, a flute, trumpet and accordion. A lot of time is spent keeping the music authentic, to give a real taste of what Polish music is really like.
The costumes that Wiesniacy wear during performances, plays a big part in Polish Folklore. Where each region has a different dance and songs associated with it, there is also a different costume associated with each dance. These are recreated as authentically as possible with the help from dedicated friends and parents (including Marek and Danuta’s mother, who was also a member of the group in previous years), who work hard to make the costumes come to life.
We have performed in many various and unusual venues. As well as dancing for the Polish community at various traditional and national days of remembrance, we are also proud to have performed for the Pope, the Queens Own Hussars, and the Prime Minister of Poland.
We have performed at the Birmingham Hippodrome and Repertory Theatre's, and even danced on television. In 1995, we took part in the "Music on the Move" festival, which was broadcasted live over the national radio station, and on several occasions were interviewed on national radio regarding Polish folklore.
Wiesniacy have taken part in all the UK Polish Festivals, and in 1995, danced for the VE/VJ day veterans at the Alexander stadium. The group has appeared on a few occasions on Polish Television and Satellite (TV Polonia).
Wiesniacy also take great pleasure in performing and fund-raising for local charities.
The next year is an inportant year in Wiesniacy’s calender. In 1999, Wiesniacy will be celebrating their 50th anniversary of existence, culminating with a weekend of commemoration and celebration . Wiesniacy will be taking part in the World Polish Folklore Festival in Rzeszow, Poland, where renowned groups from around the globe will gather together for a Polish Folklore spectacular.
Danuta ensures that all the dances that Wiesniacy perform are authentic and that the costumes created for each dance region are as authentic as possible. The Group's repertoire has grown steadily from many years of hard work and dedication by all. The first dance suite that enhanced Wiesniacy's reputation as one of the top groups in the country, was the Zywiec Suite. This is an authentic dance from the southern mountain regions of Poland.
The Group's singing has always complemented the dancing - whether during the dance suite's, or just songs in there own right, they are sung in the styles of the various dance regions - even in the proper accents and tonal qualities that are used in those regions. Other national and regional dances in the groups' repertoire include: · Lublin · Kaszuby · Krakowiak · Kurpie · Zywiec · Wielkopolska · Sieradz · Opoczno · Kujawiak/Oberek
As soon as one region is completed, work starts on the next one. The work never stops. The Polish Folklore will always live on.
- Marek Sujecki