Polish Dance Steps and Terms
By Morley Leyton
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All steps are done as if you would melt into the floor. The arms are rounded. Emphasis is on lyricism. The big five dances of Poland are the Mazur, the Oberek, the Kujawiak, the Krakowiak, and the national dance, Polonaise.
There is no unique version or pattern for these dances. There are hundreds of melodies and hundreds of villages and each one has its own way to dance. Most of these dances are essentially improvisational and free style, with each couple on his own (Polka, Oberek), or everybody following the leader's call (Krakowiak, Mazur, Polonaise).
The style of dances taught at the 1968 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp is that of the Mazuri region (near Warsaw). The mountaineers (Goralski) are another breed apart.
Ever since Napoleon invaded Russia, there has been an empathy between Poland and France, and the court language was French. Thus, the steps have French names. All the dances taught at the 1968 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp are in 3/4 time, and may be done on either foot.
1. BASIC MAZUR STEP (Pas Marché)
Step down softly on the R ft (ct 1); step on L ft (ct 2); step on R ft with a stiff knee (ct 3).
Step may be done fwd, bkwd, turning, et cetera.
2. CLICK STEP (Cabriolé)
Hop on L ft and click R ft against L (ct 1); stamp sdwd onto bent R ft, traveling to the R (ct 2); close L ft to R ft (ct 3).
Note that the trailing ft (L described here) should not leave the floor.
3. MAZUR STEP (Chassé) This step is found only in the Mazur.
Hop on L ft (ct 1); slide fwd onto R ft like a skater (ct 2); using the whole phrase of music to complete this step, hop on R ft (ct 3).
Always alternate sides. Begin the next step with a hop on the R ft. This transition of two hops on the same ft may cause some confusion at first.
4. OPEN MAZUR POSITION
W on M's R side, his R arm around her waist, her L hand resting on his R shldr. Keep a slight angle between each other, that is, face each other slightly. Free hand on hip, unless otherwise stated.
Relax and bend the knees, point the knees and the toes to each other, hunch over, twist the free arm and hand so that the palm faces bkwd, thumb down, bend head fwd and look down all in (ct 1); straighten everything and throw bk head (ct 2); hold (ct 3).
R hands on hip, describe a horizontal figure eight in front of yourself with the L hand, taking 3 cts, as follows:
Swing the hand horizontally in front of yourself to complete the first half of the swing to the R and shift wt onto R ft (cts 1-2); complete the figure eight to the left and step onto the L ft (ct 3).
Throw the L hand high up behind the head and stamp R ft, throwing head back (ct 1); hold (cts 2-3).
Reprinted from the 1968 University of the Pacific (Stockton) Folk Dance Camp syllabus.