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Poland

There are six regions in Poland, each with its own music, dances and costumes, but one dance which is known all over the world as a Polish national dance is the Mazurka. One of the oldest dances is the Chodzony, from which comes the Polonaise. This, like many other peasant dances, became adapted for use at grand occasions, and the Polonaise was always danced at the opening of a ball. The Polka is still danced in many villages.


Costume
There are many costumes worn in the different parts of Poland. The girl's costumes is basically a blouse, full skirt, petticoats, apron, bodice or jacket. There are many different designs, shapes and colours, but striped material is very popular in the central and western areas, and floral patterns in the Cracow region.

Young girls wear their hair in two plaits tied with ribbons. Flowers or headscarves are also worn, and married women tuck their hair into caps. Tight lace-up boots are worn in many areas, rather like an ice skating boot. This stiffens the ankle and foot, so the dancer uses the knee and thigh, which gives the strong ballon typical of Polish dances.

Men often wear striped trousers and there are many different types of coat. The most popular is from the Cracow region with the sukmana or peasant's coat. The square shaped hat is also worn by the Polish army.

Music
Small village bands play the animated rhythms of Polish folk music, They usually consist of violin, cello, various kinds of flutes, drums, and sometimes a double bass.

Customs
The name Poland comes from the early settlers called Polanie, meaning 'people of the fields'. Over half the land is cultivated, so many customs are connected with the seasons. Song and dance was the main form of entertainment, and there were special dances for the harvest and for the fishermen.

A wedding custom in Kujawy is for a man to balance a glass of wine on the flat brim of his hat while performing a slow dance.

 

At Easter time, beautifully painted eggs are given by girls to their boyfriends. Eggs are also rolled along the edges of a field to protect the crops, and ribbed on the foreheads of sick animals.

Peacocks' feathers are much admired in Poland and are considered a sign of good luck. They are often worn in the men's caps.

The Polish people have a great love of animals, especially horses, and at carnivals masks are made to represent horses, goats and roosters.

On St John's Eve, girls make wreaths which they throw into a river or stream; if the wreath sinks or gets stuck, the girl won't get married that year!

Where will Fred and Ginger travel to next?
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1990 Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing