Energetic Rhythms & Traditions of Polish Folk Dances

Polish folk dances are a vibrant tradition rooted in centuries of Polish culture and history. Many of these dances stem from regional customs and historical events, making them distinct from other Central European styles. The most renowned dances of Poland, also known as Poland’s National Dances, include the Krakowiak, Mazurka, Oberek, Polonaise, and Bohemian Polka.

The Krakowiak, also known as the Cracovienne, is a fast, syncopated Polish dance from the region of Kraków and Lesser Poland. The Kujawiak is a dance from the region of Kuyavia in central Poland. It’s the most romantic of the national dances, a slow dance in 3/4 metre, danced with couples. The Mazur is a faster dance in which pairs glide across the floor. The dance is heavily influenced by French styles, and the dancers move with grace and speed. The Oberek is a fast, vivacious dance in 3/8 time. The word „oberek” is derived from „obrot”, meaning, „to turn”. Great leaps and feats of athleticism are demonstrated by the men. The Polonaise is the most stately of the national dances. Danced in triple (3/4) metre, the Polonaise is often the first dance at large events. In Poland, the Polonaise is called the Polonez, or less often the Chodzony (literally, „walking dance”).

Each region in Poland has its unique dances. For example, Southern Poland features the culture of the Gorals, Polish highlanders, and people ethnic to the mountainous regions. These dances were brought by Vlach settlers in the 17th century. Very similar versions can be found at the Gorals in Slovakia and in the Czech Republic. The rhythm of their music is different from the otherwise duple or triple-metre of the lowlands.

Polish regional dances are specific to a given region or city. They include Łowicz, Lachy Sądeckie, Kujawy, Kurpie, and Wielkopolska. These dances are performed during major events, holidays, or in tourist-oriented public spaces. The dances are lively, energetic, and joyful, with hops, twirls, and athletic movements being common. Many dances involve a circle but also partners. These dances are a testament to the rich cultural heritage of Poland and continue to be a source of national pride.