home

Website created by: Morgan Le (SLP student, SJSU)
THE HISTORY OF
VISTULA (WISLA) POLISH DANCE COMPANY
OF SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, USA
Established in 1989

HISTORICAL BEGINNING
In 1989, the year when Poland was holding its first parliamentary elections, the VISTULA Polish Dance Company of San Francisco was founded by Prof. dr. Genowefa Nowak aka Professor dr. Jean M. Novak at the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation (PACF), with the guidance and help of Pani Wanda Tomczykowska. VISTULA elected its first Board of Directors and the group initially started with 6 dancers (3 couples). At its inception, the group borrowed costumes from the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation, after which the group purchased their own. Over 13 years, VISTULA had a total membership of over 100. Over 90% of the members of the group were from Poland or of Polish decent, and most of them were parishioners of the Polish Nativity Church in San Francisco.

PERFORMANCES

From 1989-2002, VISTULA participated in many events presenting Polish national and regional dances and cultural traditions in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as throughout California. VISTULA had the distinct honor of performing for the first Polish Festival in Honolulu, Hawaii. The invitation to perform in Hawaii was received from Consul General Jan Szewc in Los Angeles, California. The Festival was hosted and sponsored by the Polish Honorary Consul Bozena Jarnot, owner of HAWAII POLONIA TOURS and organized by a Polish organization, the Chopin Society of Hawaii. VISTULA also invited guest choreographers from Chicago and New York and a pianist from Poland to participate in the Festival. Both television and radio interviews and performances of VISTULA were broadcasted. Two years later, VISTULA was asked once again to return and perform for the International Music Festival in Honolulu.

Vistula in Oahu, HI with Honarary Consul Bozena Jarnot


Vistula in Hawaii

A relaxing moment in Hawaii for Vistula dancer, Malgorzata Ziolcinska


Vistula arrives in Hawaii

Kapeolani Park Bandshell, Oahu, HI

In California, VISTULA performed for various annual Polish events such as the Annual Polish Festival and the Polish Constitution Day Celebration in San Francisco’s beautiful Golden Gate Park for the Polish American Congress, the Annual Polonaise Ball for the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation at the prestigious San Francisco Fairmont Hotel for over 10 years, Annual Membership Meetings for the POLAM Federal Credit Union in the Bay Area, various celebrations for St. Wojciech’s Polish Pastoral Mission in San Francisco and St. Adalbert’s Polish Catholic Mission and Church in Sunnyvale and San Jose, Annual Dozynki (Harvest Festival) Celebrations, and at many dance parties for the Polonez Soccer Club at various hotels in San Francisco, including the renowned Sir Francis Drake Hotel by Union Square.


Performance w/ Lajkonik – Fairmont Hotel, SF, CA


Performance – Sunnyvale, CA

Fairmont Hotel, SF Performance

Performance – Golden Gate Park Bandshell, SF

Among other places the group performed included Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Palace of Fine Arts for the prestigious SF Ethnic Dance Festival, Dean Lesher Theatre in Walnut Creek, Del Valle Theatre in Concord, Vacaville Museum, and St. Mary’s Cathedral, for various dance festivals and cultural events. VISTULA also enjoyed performing at school events in the community and country clubs for weddings, graduations, and other public and private ceremonies.

Performance in Berkeley, CA – Tilden Park

San Jose State University-Graduation

Wedding Polish custom-ocepiny

Irene and Henry after solo Mazur

San Jose State University – Graduation Performance

VISTULA was the only ethnic dance group invited by the Council of the United Nations to kick off the year long celebrations of the 50th Anniversary of the UN in an official “Hats Off” program in Palo Alto, California. VISTULA was also asked by the Council of Ethnic Ministries of the Archdiocese of San Francisco to perform for the 2000 Year Celebration of Christianity Jubilee Mass at the San Francisco Stadium. VISTULA was selected to represent the Polish ethnic group of San Francisco, along with 10 other ethnic groups.

50th Anniversary – United Nations Performance

In celebration of 2000 years of Christianity, VISTULA was also the only group that was selected by a panel of jurors to perform for the opening ceremony of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops of America at the Los Angeles Convention Center. In front of an audience of 5000. VISTULA’s performance included a procession with the painting of the Black Madonna accompanied by the singing of “Czarna Madonno”, showcasing the beautiful kontusze and regional costumes of Poland, and presenting a kujawiak and polonez. During this national conference VISTULA also prepared a cultural exhibit entitled Treasures of Poland, which included information on Polish customs and folk art, as well as highlighting historically renowned Polish people, along with constructing a shrine for the Black Madonna, all of which was prepared by the artistic and talented Ms. Malgorzata Zolcinska. For the first time, many participants in this event, were educated on the cultural and historical contributions made by Poland.

Los Angeles Convention Center: Encuentro 2000

Black Madonna Shrine – LA Convention Center

Treasures of Poland Display

LECTURES AND CULTURAL PRESENTATIONS

The uniqueness about VISTULA was that is was not only a dancing group. In addition to performing Polish dances and songs, VISTULA took pride in presenting lectures on Polish regional and national costumes and dances and showcasing the beautiful costumes of Poland at various universities such as, Stanford University, San Francisco State University, San Jose State University, and the University of Hawaii, and at special presentations such as the Polish Heritage Seminars hosted by the PACF. The group also participated in presenting and celebrating Polish customs and traditions such as: “Dozynki, Andrzejki, Wigilia, Swietojanki, Wianki, Swieconka, and Karnawal”, thereby educating the American public on the richness of Polish culture and giving the members of the group who were away from Poland a connection with their culture and homeland.


Harvest Festival Mass – St. Thomas Church, SF


Multicultural Festival: Sun-microsystems: Polish Costumes


University of Hawaii: Polish Costume lecture presentation


Dozynki – Harvest Festival


Vistula bring Hawaii to San Francisco

Stanford University-Festival

Dr. Mary Jo Wisneski, Board member and dancer of VISTULA opened her beautiful house in Calistoga, California to VISTULA’s members where she hosted a memorable Wigilia for over 50 of our members, and at other times where VISTULA also celebrated other traditions and customs such as Noc Swietojanska and Wianki.

     Wianki-Calistoga

DONATIONS & COMMUNITY SERVICE
VISTULA also gave donations to help and support other Polish institutions and organizations including the Mazowsze National Dance Company of Poland, Kardinal Glemp of Poland, and Archbishop Wesoly of the Vatican. VISTULA performed a benefit concert with the Cantio Polonica choral group under the direction of Mr. Jacek Kalisz at the Polish American Club in Sacramento. VISTULA purchased holy-water holders for the newly built Polish church in San Jose, as well as 120 porcelain table settings, glasses, and silverware for the Polish Nativity Church and special oil candles for the altar and church in San Francisco.


Cardinal Glemp with Vistula in San Francisco

During the Christmas season, VISTULA members annually visited a Polish priest, Fr. Adalbert Gluszek at St. Anne’s Retirement Home in San Francisco to sing Polish Christmas caroles with him. Fr. Gluszek was born in Poland in 1897. He lived through 2 World Wars and survived 3 concentration camps. During WWII his favorite statue of the Sacred Heart was destroyed by the Nazis. In 1950 he came to San Francisco and believed that he would build a similar statue with his savings. On May 7, 1981 his dream was realized. A 14 foot high, 2200 pound plaster cast statue of the Sacred Heart was completed and located next to the Church of the Good Shepherd in Pacifica, California, overlooking Highway 1 and the Pacific Ocean. In 1993, VISTULA performed for Fr. Gluszek and the residents of St. Anne’s home in honor of his 71st Anniversary to the priesthood. Father Gluszek died a few days short of becoming 100 years old and VISTULA held a memorial mass for him at Nativity Church in memory of his life and work.

Memorial for Fr. Adalbert Gluszek- Nativity Church in San Francisco

GUEST CHOREOGRAPHERS
The VISTULA Dancers were quite fortunate to have had several renowned Polish guest choreographers such as Bozena Nizanska (Rzeszow, Poland), Jacek Marek (Boston), Donna Kalinowska-Kaye (New York) , Antoni Dobrzanski (Chicago), Edward Hoffman (Poland), Jan Nachszter (Koluszki, Poland), and Krakow’s very own Konrad Kowalczyk (choreographer of Krakowiacy and Ziemia Myslenicka) share their talents and expertise with the group.


Rehearsal with Bozena Nizanska, Choreographer from Rzeszow, Poland


Konrad Kowalczyk, Choreographer-Krakow, Poland w/ Dr. Nowak


Konrad Kowalczyk, Choreographer – Krakow, Poland w/ Dr. Nowak
(20 years later)


Jacek Marek – Choreographer from Boston with Vistula

Joe Miller, Assistant Artistic Director was a semi-professional dancer with various dance companies and choreographer who performed and also worked with VISTULA on stage presence and style as well as demonstrating the various technical step work for the male dancers. He also choreographed a Mazur from Straszny Dwor for VISTULA.

The choreography of VISTULA combined authenticity and accuracy of dance steps with performance quality, which always added up to an educational, exciting and moving experience, for the dancers as well as the audience. Much of the success of the company was due to the dancers’ camaraderie and dedication to upholding Polish cultural traditions. VISTULA enjoyed presenting the national dances and various regional suites of Poland. At the time, VISTULA took pride in being known as the Polish dance company of the Bay Area, in contrast to a group that only performs Polish dances.

VOCALISTS
In addition to guest choreographers VISTULA was honored to have Mr. Franciszek Szymkun, a renowned Polish opera singer who was born in Wilno, as its choral and music director and coordinator. Mr. Franek was a professional opera singer who performed in Argentina and with the San Francisco Opera. He spent endless hours of preparing music for and performing with VISTULA, as well as providing the group with vocal training. VISTULA also was privileged to have Mr. Piotr Sowinski who performed with the Wroclaw Opera and Operetta presenting solo pieces with his beautiful tenor voice.

Franciszek Szymkun, Opera singer with Dr. Nowak and Karol Zerucha

Piotr Sowinski, Opera Singer preparing for Wigilia

REHEARSALS & EVENTS
Traditionally, VISTULA rehearsed once a week for 3 hours at the San Francisco Polish Club. In addition, weekend workshops were also scheduled at the Polish Club or the church hall before major performances. Generally VISTULA performed on Friday evenings and weekends. All members of the group donated their time to uphold and cultivate Polish traditions and to educate the public about the beauty and symbolism of Polish traditions and culture, and their names are listed in the 10th Year Anniversary Program.


Rehearsal before PACF Performance at Fairmont Hotel, SF

Posing with Honorary Polish Consul of Hawaii after Rehearsal

Weekend dancing and singing workshops in Gridley became a tradition at least twice a year. These workshops were hosted by VISTULA’s very own talented dancer Mrs. Anna Sosnowska-Baker, who was a professional music teacher at the Conservatory of Music in SF and an eurhythmics instructor for the SF Ballet Company, and the owner of Biala Kamienica in Kazimierz Dolny. Mrs. Sosnowska-Baker taught classroom eurhythmics and led a morning exercise radio program along with stage and TV presentations in Poland. She was also the author of Teaching Eurhythmics-A Teacher’s Guide for Beginners, and received many awards for her work. She also taught Polish language classes at Stanford and Solfege at the University of New South Wales in Australia.

When taking a break from dancing, VISTULA would plan downhill skiing weekends in Lake Tahoe in the winter, and other parties during the year to relax and get together.

SPONSORS
VISTULA was sponsored and supported primarily with private donations and paid performances in addition to support received from the POLAM Federal Credit Union, and the Polish Arts and Culture Foundation, the Polish Club of San Francisco, the Polish National Alliance, the Polonez Soccer Club of San Francisco, and various Polish businesses from the Bay Area.

10TH YEAR ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION
VISTULA celebrated its 10th Year Anniversary on June 5, 1999. That day was officially proclaimed as VISTULA Polish Dance Company Day by the Mayor of San Francisco. The Hall of Nativity Church was transformed into a room from the Royal Palace in Warsaw (Zamek Krolewski w Warszawie) which took over one month to complete for the Royal Ball (Bal Krolewski). Drapes were sown by Mr. Karol Zerucha, the artistic panels were painted and hung on the walls by Mr. Pawel Bendisz, and the antique candelabras and chairs were borrowed from Mr. Andrzej Pawlikowski and Mrs. Wanda Tomczykowska. Tables were decorated with white tablecloths and red napkins. Flower arrangements and center pieces were prepared by Mrs. Ludwika Wawrzynczyk and Ms. Krystyna Motyka. A red carpet was layed out on the stage, and pieces of red brocade fabric served as wall hangings along with other paintings, which included a beautiful oil painting of the Polish eagle. The dancers rehearsed, prepared their costumes, and decorated the Hall on a daily basis over a 2 week period.

Finally, June 5th arrived and the 10th Anniversary celebration began with a High Mass that was concelebrated with five Polish priests and one deacon. A formal dinner was prepared by Mr. Karol Zerucha and served by the dancers which included a ‘royal’ menu of salad, bread, pork, potatoes, peas and carrots, beet horseradish, and a Napoleon dessert, served with red or white wine and coffee or tea. Dinner was followed by an artistic program which included 3 costume changes and a performance of VISTULA’s Polonez, Solo Mazur (performed by Prof. Genia and Mr. Henry), Couples Mazur, and a Women’s and Couples Kujawiak. A newly choreographed romantic couples Kujawiak was debuted during this celebration. The moving song, “Polish Flowers” (Polskie Kwiaty) sung by VISTULA’s chorus brought tears to the eyes of many attendees. The opening of the program began with a welcome from Prof. dr. Nowak and a excerpt from Pan Tadeusz presented by dancing member Prof. dr. Piotr Tutka.

The Honorary Guests included Polish American Congree and Polish National Alliance President Edward Moskal from Chicago, Consul Potoroczny from Los Angeles, Honorary Consul Bozena Jarnot from Hawaii, Mr. & Mrs. Z. Zakrzewski, POLAM FCU, Rev. Prof. dr. Andrej Woznicki, Professor Emeritus University of San Francisco (USF), Mrs. Wanda Tomczykowska, President PACF, Mr. Frank Jaskinski, President Polish Club of San Francisco, Rev dr Czeslaw Rybacki, Pastor of Nativity Church, and Mr. Henry Koopmann (a dancer and supporter of VISTULA, who is an outstanding ballroom dancer and a member of the Berkeley Folk Dancers and who performed a solo mazur at 80 years of age during the 10th Anniversary of VISTULA).

A narrated slide show was presented by Prof. dr. Nowak highlighting the 10 years of VISTULA’s existence. The dancers were presented to the audience and received certificates of acknowledgement and Honorary Consul Jarnot brought fresh flower leis from Hawaii for all the members of VISTULA. Prof. Nowak received a beautiful engraved plaque and wooden photo album from the dancers of VISTULA and various gifts from other Polish organizations. A grande POLONEZ ended the program section and opened the dance floor for everyone. It was 4 am by the time the festivities ended the wonderful and memorable celebration of VISTULA’s 10 year existence.


10th Year Anniversary Gala-Nativity Church.  VISTULA with:
Fr.dr. Czeslaw Rybacki, Pastor and President Edward Moskal, US Polish American Congress

VISTULA RETURNS TO EUROPE

As a result of Prof. dr. Nowak’s expanding professional and administrative career responsibilities, as well as her international commitments, she was unable to continue to manage and direct VISTULA, even though the group was becoming well known locally and internationally. With great sorrow and trepidation ending VISTULA’s existence was one of the most difficult decisions Prof. Nowak had to make in her lifetime. She closed the longest chapter and love of her life – performing and presenting Polish dances as an ambassador of Polish culture.

However, in 2002, when VISTULA was no longer able to continue to perform as there was no one to take on the directorship of the dance company, all of the groups’ costumes that were mainly purchased in Poland were donated to a Polish dance group in Lwow – Weseli Lwowiacy, under the direction of Edward Sosulski, who also studied Polish choreography in Lublin. The costumes included complete sets for men and women such as: kontusze, lublelskie, krakowskie, kurpiowskie, ulanskie and evening dresses, goralskie, boots, kierpce, among many other costumes pieces. Over 20 boxes of costumes were donated to Lwow to uphold Polish culture in honor of VISTULA’s founder’s father who was born in Huta Pieniacka (a small Polish village about 100 km from Lwow), and where her grandparents were murdered during World War II.

VISTULA RETURNS TO POLAND
In 2009, as a tribute to VISTULA’S 20th year anniversary, Prof. dr. Nowak, donated her own collection of costumes and all her books on Polish folklore, music, and dances to the group Ziemia Myslenicka in memory of her mother who was born in Pcim, a place not far from Myslenice. Prof. Nowak also sponsored the purchasing of the Nowy Sadeckie costumes for Ziemia Myslenicka in honor and memory of VISTULA and her parents, and out of her love of promoting Polish culture through dance and music. On December 5, 2009, Prof. dr. Nowak received recognition for her donation to Ziemia Myslenicka at the Doroczny Galowy Koncert.

Dr. Novak receiving recognition in Poland, December 2009

Before the end of 2009, Prof. Genia contacted the regional group Pcimianie in Pcim (birthplace of her mother), and invited them to perform for the 20th Anniversary Celebration offering a donation for their continuation of presenting and performing the customs and traditions of this region in memory of her mother and her own childhood.

A tribute gala concert celebrating VISTULA’s 20th Year Anniversary will be held in Myslenice in May 2010. The concert will be dedicated to the parents of Prof. Nowak who are both buried in Pcim and all the members of the VISTULA Polish Dance Company of San Francisco.

Memories of VISTULA will always remain and its spirit and soul (dusza) will always be in San Francisco, Lwow-Huta Pieniacka, and Myslenice-Pcim so that, “do poki Wisla plynie, and as long as Polish culture through its language, dances, songs, folklore, and customs exits - Polska nie zaginie.”


Prof. dr. Jean Genia Nowak,
VISTULA Founder, Artistic Director

PROF. dr. GENOWEFA NOWAK, Founder VISTULA As President and Artistic Director of VISTULA, Prof. dr. Nowak prepared various choreographies in addition to adapting and altering choreographies for all of VISTULA’s performances and presentations. She traveled extensively throughout Poland purchasing all the costumes and music utilized by VISTULA, as well as contracting and negotiating all performances.


Ulanskie Stroje - Fairmont Hotel SF


Polish Regional Costumes - University of Hawaii

VISTULA was the dream of Prof. dr. Genowefa Nowak who was born in San Francisco, California, USA. She grew up in a Polish household and spoke only Polish until she started school. Every year during her childhood, she spent her summers mostly in Pcim and Krakow, Poland. She would also spend time in Myslenice where the bus station was located in the current rynek as she traveled between Krakow and Pcim and around Poland to visit and spend time with her extended family. As a child, she acquired a deep respect for and love of everything that was Polish.

DANCE BACKGROUND
Dr. Nowak began to dance when she was 5 years of age at the San Francisco Ballet Company and she learned Polish dances at a young age at the Polish School in San Francisco. Before founding VISTULA, she was the President and Artistic Director of the Lowiczanie Polish Folk Dance Group for several years, during which time she attended and performed on several occasions at the International Polish Festival in Rzeszow as well as at various annual Polish Dance Festivals in the United States. In 1985, she was one of the organizers of the Polish Dance Festival of the Americas in San Francisco where Polish dance companies from around the United Stated came for a week long workshop and a gala performance. Dr. Nowak also prepared the performace for Pope John Paul II in Laguna Seca, Monterey in 1988.

Prof. dr. Genia Nowak studied Polish national and regional dances of Poland, which included ethnography, as well as Polish musicology and costumeology at the international choreographers course in Lublin, Poland. She also published a quarterly bilingual newsletter, Plynie Wisla (The Flowing Vistula), where her articles discussed and educated the public on Polish dances, costumes, customs, and current VISTULA events and performances. Ms. Malgorzata Zolcinska one of VISTULA’s talented dancing members was instrumental in preparing articles and translating materials about various events and customs for publication in Polish.

SF State University – SF Ethnic Dance Festival Auditions

Vistula after San Jose Performance - St. Aldalbert Polish Church

POLISH COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT
In addition to directing VISUTLA, Prof. dr. Nowak was extremely involved in the Polish community in the SF area for over 30 years. She was the first female Vice President of the Polish American Congress – Northern California Division (PAC) under the mentorship of Prof. dr. George Lerski, Political Science Professor Emeritus, USF, and served as a National Director for the PAC for several years under the leadership and direction of Pan Zdzislaw Zakrzewski, founder of POLAM Federal Credit Union. Due to her bilingual abilities, she was also the primary English editor and Polish translator of a philosophy book on the Transcendence of Man written by Prof. Rev. dr. Andrzej Woznicki, Philosophy Professor Emeritus, USF.

Prof. dr. Nowak at Polish Embassy – Washington, DC

Prof. dr. Nowak – PAC Vice President – No. CA Division

Prof. dr. Nowak with Honorary Consul Jarnot

Prof. dr. Nowak – Polish Am Congress National Delegate - Chicago, IL

She was a member of many Polish organizations in San Francisco and also served as a Board Member on several of these organizations, including the Polish Club of San Francisco, Polish American Congress, and the Polish Pastoral Mission of San Francisco where she was also Financial Council Member and she prepared the 100th Year Anniversary Book of Nativity Church in San Francisco. Prof. dr. Nowak was appointed by the Nativity Church to serve on the Council of Ethnic Ministries for the San Francisco Archdiocese and then appointed to serve on the first advisory board to Archbishop Leveda of San Francisco. She organized various events at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco including dance performances and other cultural events for the community. She was also asked to facilitate a multicultural retreat for the ethnic ministries that focused on the religious concerns of the various ethnic groups representing the Bay Area that was held in Palo Alto. She presented the opening address which was followed by an open discussion with the various groups in attendance.

Archbishop Leveda with Vistula at Nativity Church in SF

Welcoming the Archbishop Leveda to Nativity Church, SF

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND
Prof. dr. Nowak has not only made cultural contributions, but also an impact in her professional field of speech and language pathology. Professionally, Prof. dr. Genowefa Nowak is a professor-doctor of speech pathology, clinical supervisor, and bilingual preschool screening director at San Jose State University (SJSU), California. She was the first Department Chair of the Communicative Disorders and Sciences Department. She received her doctorate from UC Berkeley and has been involved with various projects at Stanford University with her students. She also taught for several years at Fresno State University (as a graduate student) and San Francisco State University (as a doctoral student) before receiving a permanent position at SJSU in 1991. She received tenure and holds the highest position as a full professor (docent) at SJSU. In her private practice she offered consulting and diagnostic assessments and was also utilized as an expert witness in fair hearing cases. She also worked in various sites and group home settings, and psychiatric facilities with children with behavior problems. She has also been involved with the student speech pathology organization as a National Consultant for several years. She received the National Advisor’s and Chapter Award from NSSLHA.

Preparing for SJSU graduation ceremony
CD&S Department

SJSU graduation ceremony keynote address

First Department Chair of Communicative Disorders & Sciences-SJSU

NSSLHA Advisor Honors and Chapter Honors for SJSU

Proud to be a Spartan!

Her area of expertise is in language disorders in children and adolescents, bilingualism, autism, mental illness (including schizophrenia), and behavior disorders. She is involved in various projects with the Autism Tree Project Foundation of San Diego in early identification of speech and language disorders in toddler and preschool children, in addition to research projects with UCSD and Scripps Children’s Hospital in San Diego. She is also currently involved in research with Pani Lucyna Wardega a pediatric neurologist and rehabilitation specialist in Kradow and Radziszow, Poland. In 2009, Dr. Nowak prepared a Parent and Professional Handbook in Spanish on language development, language disorders, and language stimulation activities for preschool children with her Spanish speaking students, along with a Spanish DVD on this topic. She has taught and presented nationally all over the United States and internationally in Canada, Mexico, Guam, China, Saudi Arabia, England, and Poland. In the summer of 2010 she will also present at the International Convention of Child Neurology in Cairo, Egypt in the area of autism identification in toddlers.

CONCLUSION – FINAL REMARKS
As a proud Polish-American, Prof. dr. Nowak has never forgotten her Polish roots. Therefore, out of her love for her professional, bilingual, and bicultural background she continues to educate her speech pathology university students at SJSU, on cultural sensitivity and Polish traditions by sharing with them her life-long experiences in addition to showing her students tapes of VISTULA’s performances. Even though she was born in America, she hopes to one day retire in Poland and to continue to enjoy the cultural beauty and richness that Poland has to offer, which of course will include performances of Ziemia Myslenicka, Zespol Pcimianie, and Weseli Lwowiacy, as she reminisces about her own VISTULA Polish Dance Company of San Francisco.


PCIMIANIE

WESELI LWOWIACY




COMMUNITY AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON VISTULA AND 20th ANNIVERSARY TRIBUTE







Vistula Memories


Dr. Mary Jo Wisneski







TRIBUTE TO VISTULA –

20th Year Anniversary Concert – May 2, 2010

 

On Sunday, May 2, 2010 (Polish Flag Day), a Gala Concert was held as a Tribute to Polonia and VISTULA’s 20th Year Anniversary, in Myslenice (35km from Krakow); Poland.  The concert hall (MDK) was filled to capacity for the over 3 hour concert which featured three groups – Ziemia Myslenicka (a singing and dance company with over 100 members - Konrad Kowalczyk, Choreographer; Piotr Szewczyk, Director); Pcimianie (a regional group that sings and presents Polish traditions and customs -  Tadeusz Kozak, Director); and Weseli Lwowiacy and Lwowska Fala (a Polish singing and dancing group from Lviv-Lwow – Edward Sosulski, Choreograher and Director).

 

The concert which took over 6 months to plan, began with a slide show of Polish scenery and a sentimental song about Poland. A tribute to the 96 individuals who lost their lives in the tragic airline crash in Smolensk on April 10th was followed by a moment of silence.  A presentation was made by the Vice President of Wspolnota Polska – Krakow Division, Prof. Wrobel – on behalf of the President of Wspolnota Polska from Warsaw who was going to attend the concert, but also died in the crash.  The concert opened with the elegant and traditional national dance of Poland – the Polonez by Ziemia Myslenicka.  Traditional songs along with national and regional dances were performed by the groups. Pcimianie presented a beautiful wedding ceremony and Lwowska Fala shared with the audience the beautiful Polish songs from Lwow.  Several pieces that the VISTULA Polish Dance Company of San Francisco had performed were presented and a slide show of VISTULA photos was shown during the singing of Polish Flowers – “Polskie Kwiaty”, performed by Ziemia Myslenicka.  Memories of VISTULA and letters were read by past VISTULA members and a presentation was made by the former Polish Consul General Jan Szewc of Los Angeles. Former VISTULA members came from various cities around Poland (Warsaw, Lublin, Wroclaw, Kielce, Konin, Poznan), and England to participate in the concert.  The tribute to VISTULA included Pcimianie and Lwow in honor of Dr. Novak’s parents.  Her mother was from Pcim and her father from a small village in the area of Lwow.

 

At the end of the concert, Mr. Piotr Szewczyk received special recognition for Ziemia Myslenicka from Senator Bisztyga from the Polish Parliament.  Other various dignitaries including the Mayor of Myslenice – Mr. Maciej Ostrowski and Mayor of Pcim – Mr. Daniel Obajtek were also in attendance.  A few final words were presented by Dr. Novak and the concert ended with a standing ovation from the audience.  What a wonderful tribute to Polish Dance and Culture and to the memory of VISTULA.



Ziemia Myslenicka – Choral group

Weseli Lwowacy – Mazur dance

Lwowska Fala – Songs from Lwow

Pcimianie – Regional Songs

Polskie Kwiaty and Slide of VISTULA


Pcimianie – Wedding Ceremony

Ziemia Myslenicka – Karkowiak National Dance

End of  concert with Members of VISTULA

End of concert

End of concert with Dr. Novak’s final words