RIYADH: The world-renowned Polish Slask Song and Dance Ensemble, named after Stanislaw Hadyna, performed before a Saudi audience at the Palace of Culture in Riyadh’s diplomatic district.
The Theater and Performing Arts Commission of the Saudi Ministry of Culture hosts the ensemble event, in which participants wear colorful traditional costumes from different regions of Poland during song and dance routines.
Traditional dances include krakowiak, mazurka, oberek, polonaise and bohemian polka, backed by the orchestra.
dr Houd Al-Omrani, the event’s project manager, told Arab News: “Basically, we had in mind Polish folklore based on Poland’s rich history.
“Poland has had many experiences, but one of the beautiful things is that the Polish people, through their experiences in World War I and World War II, have thought positively about how to prevent their identity from being wiped out because of these wars.”
Poles focused on protecting their rich history, developing youth’s attachment and love for the country’s heritage and documenting their stories through song and dance.
The performances shown are rooted in centuries of culture and heritage and inspired by regional customs. Much of this folklore was retained by the famous Polish composer Frederic Chopin, who frequently incorporated it into his works.
Al-Omrani said that folklore has often been neglected or forgotten in many cultures around the world due to a lack of documentation on music, dress, dance and other elements.
“What has happened to Polish culture is that world-class composers like Frederic Chopin, one of the greatest composers in the world and in piano history, composed a large part of Polish heritage, including what we hear in Riyadh.
“Polish culture has other dimensions, similar to Saudi culture; it changes by area and city. If we notice the clothes, they are colorful and the way of dancing is different. Some of the techniques are inspired by natural elements in Poland, like the peacock and the hen,” added Al-Omrani.
The week-long show was held as part of efforts to create opportunities for cultural exchange and strengthen ties between Poles and Saudis.
Zbigniew Cierniak, the Polish director of the ensemble, told Arab News: “We are absolutely sure that the audience here in Saudi Arabia will evoke only positive feelings. There’s a lot of historical background behind every play we produce, so it’s not just an art in itself, it’s also an educational aspect that we like to emphasize.
“Having spent a few days in Saudi Arabia we are absolutely thrilled and in love with the country. We meet very open and friendly people who have surrounded us since we arrived in the country through the hotel, the theater and the staff we work with. So everywhere, people are doing their best to make us feel comfortable,” he said.
The Slask group is now entering its 70th artistic season since its inception in 1953.
“In 70 years we have earned a reputation as ambassadors of Polish culture around the world,” added Cierniak.
The show will continue at the Kulturpalast until September 7th.