Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dzień Polskiego Dziedzictwa/Polish Heritage Day

Remember, October is Polish American Heritage Month. What better way to kick off the month long celebration by attending this event sponsored by various Polish Varieties Radio, Czas Polski, and Telewizja Detroit. The event will feature the presentation of the 2011 Polish Heritage Day Award and a performance by the Wawel Folk Ensemble. Zapraszamy!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

How Wawel Spent Its Summer Vacation

For many, the summer months are spent relaxing and recouping from the daily grind. Not so for members of the Wawel Folk Ensemble. If anything, Wawel members “turned the volume up to 11,” with an intense schedule of practices, travel and performances during the summer months of 2011.

Wawel’s summer whirlwind officially kicked off in June. From June 17-19, members of the Ensemble traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to participate in Milwaukee’s 30th Annual Polish Fest. Polish Fest, which features performances by many other mid-west based Polish folk groups, has been a regular event on Wawel’s performance calendar since 1998. Wawel performed on three occasions at Polish Fest and presented its Sieradz, Rzeszów, and Podlasie suites as well as its Krakowiak. The performances at Polish Fest were capped off with a gala concert featuring the member ensembles of the Polish Folk Dance Association of the Americas, of which Wawel is a founding member.

Once the ensemble returned to Detroit after Polish Fest, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to take a breather. On July 8, 2011, the Ensemble performed at the Annual Polish Festival sponsored by the American Polish Century Club in Sterling Heights, Michigan.

On July 13, members of the Ensemble began boarding flights to Poland in anticipation of the Ensemble’s participation in the XV World Festival of Polish Folk Dance held in Rzeszów, Poland.

From July 21 – 28 members of the Wawel Folk Ensemble as well as 41 other Polish folk dance groups from around the world descended upon Rzeszów, Poland to participate in the XV World Festival of Polish Folk Dance. Wawel’s participation in the 2011 Rzeszów Festival marked the eighth time in the ensemble’s history that the group participated in the Rzeszów Festival. Wawel was one of only two groups from Metro Detroit selected to participate in the festival.

The week spent in Rzeszów was a busy one. During the week, Wawel participated in a parade through Rzeszów with all the groups participating in the festival, Wawel was selected to perform its US country dance on the main stage in the Rzeszów Rynek that appeared on a morning program on TVP. Also during the week, the group traveled to Łańcut and toured the Potocki Palace (Łańcut Castle). On Sunday, July 24, Wawel travelled to Jaroslaw to participate in a performance in the city’s rynek with Polish folk groups from London, the Czech Republic, and Chicago. Monday and Tuesday of the week were spent with practices for the concerts of dances of the country of origin and for the gala concert which closed the festival on July 27. At the concert of songs and dances from the country of residence, Wawel presented a country medley featuring some of the hottest country hits from the 90’s, Achy Breaky Heart and Boot Scootin’ Boogey, capped off with a square dance. At the gala concert, held on July 27, Wawel presented its Sieradz suite. Both the concert of songs and dances from the countries of residence and the gala concert were nearly sold out events with close to 5,000 people in attendance. On July 28, a group contingent of Wawel members continued in Poland to tour Kraków and Zakopane for an additional week.

While not necessarily related to Polish folklore, but certainly related to Polish pop culture, and perhaps Hamtramck urban legends, Wawel members and resident DJs, the W!LDZ were invited to play a DJ set at Rzeszów’s Club Live. Club Live has featured performances from such renowned performers as Doda and T. Love. They can now add the performance by the W!LDZ to their performer archives.

On July 31, while much of the ensemble was still in Poland, the members of the ensemble still in the US gave a performance at St. Edmund’s Church in Sterling Heights, Michigan. This performance was in recognition of the Bl. Fr. Jerzy Popieluszko Shrine that is being established in Poland.

By mid-August the entire ensemble had returned from Poland, but the performances kept coming. On August 13, the ensemble performed at an 80th birthday party at the American Polish Cultural Center in Troy, Michigan. On August 14, the ensemble performed at the Sweetest Heart of Mary Pierogi Festival, long a main stay on Wawel’s performance calendar. From August 19 – 21, Wawel hit the road again and traveled to Boyne, Michigan to participate in the first annual Norfolk Harvest Festival. Wawel members had to hurry home quickly though from Boyne as they performed that evening at St. Malachy in Sterling Heights, Michigan’s annual Summer Fest. The following weekend, Wawel hit the road again and traveled to Mt. Morris, Michigan to perform at the Church Festival/Picnic for Franciscan Friars of Mary Immaculate Church.

Phew…that takes us to about Labor Day…one would think that things would slow down then – not for Wawel. On Labor Day, the ensemble participated in the annual Polish Day parade in Hamtramck, Michigan. On September 11, 2011 the group will perform at St. Athanasius Parish in Roseville, Michigan’s annual Fun Fest. That takes the group to almost the start of fall; however, there’s no signs of stopping there, as the group has several performances and appearances planned taking the ensemble well into the late fall and winter months.

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