in 1956, the "Polish Folk Dance Group" was a result of
a direct need to represent Poland in an "International Folk
Festival" held annually at UCLA. Organized by Henia Cybulska,
four young immigrant couples overcame difficulties in obtaining costumes
and music to perform at the festival. The original members of the
ensemble included Zosia and Wiesiek Adamowicz, Henia and Kazik Cybulski,
Krystyna Janiszewska, and Zbyszek Szumanski, Basia and Tadzik Sarnecki,
and Wanda Gwozdziowska at the piano. They were soon after rewarded
with further opportunities to dance and perform, including an invitation
to perform at Disneyland. Steadily growing in number of members, the
group performed for local community events and festivals, as well
as, television shows. Henryk and Krystyna Jankowski became the group's
first official artistic directors in 1964, when a second generation
of dancers was enlisted.
newly arrived Polish immigrants and professional dancers from "Slask"
and "Mazowsze" Polish national folk ensembles, the group
continued to grow and increase its repertoire. In 1966, the "Polish
Folk Dance Group" performed at the Los Angeles Coliseum to celebrate
1000 years of Christianity in Poland. By this time, the ensemble was
composed of over 100 dancers. Also in 1966, Staszek Danko, a well-known
soloist from "Slask", joined the group and added dances
from Tatra Highlanders to the ensemble's repertoire. In 1967,
Marylka Klimek George, an experienced and talented soloist from "Slask"
joined the ensemble and became its dance director and choreographer.
For close to the next 20 years, under her dynamic
leadership, the ensemble blossomed; the repertoire was enriched with
new national and cultural folk dances and Polish and American audiences
enthusiastically received concerts. In 1968, the ensemble adopted
its current name "Krakusy", a familiar reference to the
townspeople of Krakow, the old Capital of Poland. Some of the more
notable performances include: in 1984, participation in the opening
ceremonies of Olympic games at the Los Angeles Coliseum; performance
at the opening festivities preceding the Papal liturgy at Dodger Stadium
in 1987; and in 1997 the ground breaking ceremonies of the new cathedral
"Queen of Angels" in downtown Los Angeles.
|Since its inception, Krakusy have meticulously retained
the traditional costumes and authentic character of each Polish regional
dance. Since 1997, the group has been directed artistically
by a number of former members and dancers who began dancing in the
group at a very young age. These directors have traveled to Poland
and completed courses of study in Polish folklore and have brought
back new and exciting song and dance traditions.
|For over 45 years Krakusy has performed throughout the
western United States generously sharing Polish folklore and culture
with the American public. Over 500 young people have danced or participated
in the ensemble over that time. That means over 1000 parents have
helped with sewing costumes, music, systems and stage production,
fund-raising efforts and other functions related to maintaining the
smooth operation of the ensemble.
In 2012 Krakusy were awarded two very prestigious awards;
Gold medal was received from Headquarters of “Wspolnota
Polska”, organization, which govern Polish folk
ensembles all over the world. This medal was awarded to
Krakusy for many years of work to entertain and educate
Polish Americans and Americans about Polish dances, folk
songs, costumes and polish customs.
Krakusy continue to serve as ambassadors of Polish culture
in performances throughout the state. [...] Krakusy
enjoy nothing more, however, than sharing their folklore and
culture with you."