The importance of the “Mazowsze” National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble in initiatives to sustain and revitalize folk music and dance in Poland.
The paper examines the role of the State Folk Song and Dance Ensemble ‘Mazowsze’ in the post-war revival of traditional music and dance in Poland. The initiative was entangled in the processes of propagating ideas of social justice, democratisation of culture and equal access to artistic education. Through the insight into the history of the ensemble in changing socio-political contexts, the author discusses how different regional traditions of peasant songs and dances have been relocated to theatre stages and public institutions, adopted to the tastes of urban audiences, popularized and included into the mainstream of national culture.
The phenomenon has been initiated right after the Second World War as part of initiatives to rebuild cultural life in Poland and revalue folk arts as an important component of cultural heritage, enabling rural artists to gain professional education, social acclaim and international recognition. Over the next seven decades a team of talented youths, recruited from the villages of Mazovia region, has been transformed into a big company of professional musicians and dancers, coming from all social groups and corners of Poland. Along with an increasing number of international tours, the ensemble came to represent the broader image of national identity, exhibiting the diversity of regional cultures and blending the folklore with aristocratic traditions, urban fashions and dominant contemporary trends of stage presentation.
The paper explores to what extend cultural policies in Poland have triggered the shift in representation of traditional culture in the performances of “Mazowsze”. It also demonstrates how the artistic stylisation of Polish folklore (presented by this company), its social relocation and global dissemination have served the purpose of its preservation. It determines the results of the restitution of peasants traditions in new contexts of urban scenes or cultural centres under protection of the state and artistic elites.
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