A pageant of Polish pride paraded through Proctors on Thursday night, courtesy of the Magnificent Mazowsze.
This large ensemble of folk dancers, singers and musicians transported audiences to every corner of this Eastern European country with its artistry that is nothing short of glorious.
And you didn’t need to be Polish to appreciate it. Though the audience was sparse, and mainly Polish, all were taken in by their precision choreography, their colorful costumes and their joyful songs. Taken together, it was a feast for the senses.
The first half of the program was a tour of Poland that opened with the serene Chodzony, the precursor to the Polonaise. It’s basically a walk. But it is so much more than that. The eye-popping costumes — thick with embroidery and swirling in reds, yellows and oranges — are gorgeous and the first thing you notice. And then there was the choreography that is unfurled in exact formations that glided from circles to lines. The dancers and singers moved nonstop, creating a kaleidoscope of patterns that swept up the imagination.
The program continued with dances from Opoczno, Wilanow, Kaszuby, Lublin and other regions. Every shift in the landscape brought new surprises, especially from the acrobatic men who sprung into no-hand cartwheels and tossed the women into the air, seemingly spontaneously.
But nothing here was unscripted. Mazowsze was so tightly choreographed — even in how the women hold their hands or when they sway in a song — that not a feather nor ribbon was out of place.
Though the pinnacle of professionalism, there is innocence to Mazowsze that is endearing. One can’t help but fall in love, especially with the dancing.
The beauty of these folk dances is they represent community — a unity among people from a same hometown. As they sidestepped, skipped or jumped in place, twisting their hips or diving their heads, their camaraderie pulsated.
Thus, Mazowsze brought out a sentimental longing for a time and place that has dissolved. You could see it in the audience. Just years before when the Mazowsze made a stop at Proctors, the crowd joined in singing many of the old songs from the old country. That didn’t happen this time. The connections are sadly disappearing.
Moved by song
Proctors patron gave Mazowsze a midshow standing ovation, however, when they broke from their folk tunes and burst into “America the Beautiful.” Hearing those 25 voices in unison singing “America” underscored that this is a country of immigrants, many Poles included, and that’s what makes us great.
Besides inspiring palpable patriotism, Mazowsze knows how to entertain. In the second act, the smiling troupe pulled out the props in delightful displays of garland, grapevines, poles and axes. While the women looked stunning, waving their handkerchiefs, the men were showing off as the dove onto the floor, brandished and tossed their weapons and kicked up their heels in deep-knee kicks.
Needless to say, all were well pleased by the marvels of Mazowsze.