Bogatym from Spisz

Bogatym from Spisz is another example of folk music being brought into the present day by
young singers and bands from the mountain regions of Poland. After many skirmishes and treaties with Czechoslovakia during the first half of the 20th century, the majority of the region of Spisz finds itself today in northern Slovakia (Spiš) and a small area in south eastern Poland. The people living in the area are considered górals (mountaineers) just like in Podhale and Orawa, with their own dialect and way of life. No matter which side of the political border, the costumes are similar, the steps the same, the music is shared and the folk scene is alive and well.

Presented in 2008 by Richard Schmidt. View the pdf here.

Circle Polka

Done to a lively melody accompanied by beautiful singing, the Circle Polka was created to teach the basic ordinary (zwykly) polka step to dancers of all ages. Poland literally has thousands of polka steps and variations that are unique to the folklore of its regions, but most people know these basic steps that are often done during social gatherings. I always teach this particular version to children and beginners of Polish folk dance, as it gives them a solid base for more complicated polka steps and helps them to learn a sense of direction when turning.

Presented in 2008 by Richard Schmidt. View the pdf here.

Czardasz Śląski

Czardasz Śląski, or Silesian Csardas, is a dance from the region of Cieszyn (CHYEH-
shihn). Taking its influence form the Hungarian csardas it consists of 3 distinct
melodies with varying tempos. Various forms of the csardas are also found in several
other southern regions of Poland like Spisz (speesh) and Orawa (oh-RAH-vah). The
locals of each of these regions adapted the dance to their liking and the results are an
interesting blend of the two cultures. The czardasz from Cieszyn is no exception with
its slow tempos and fancy footwork to the quick and lively polka sections.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.


This is a modern dance based on the folklore of the Tatra Mountains of Poland. The Górale (Mountain Folk) of Poland have a unique style and dialect of their own. To this day when traveling through this region, you will find the local people dressed in elements of the traditional costume. The young people continue the traditions and customs of their ancestors by taking their lyrics and melodies and adapting them to modern instruments. While you can find modern adaptions in other part of the country, the Górale ones have a special beat of their own. I usually don’t teach mountain dances in folk camps due to their intricate footwork and the uniqueness of the music, which at times can be quite repetitious and hard to listen to;
however, I believe that this modern version will be a blast of fresh air and will give dancers a taste of this special folklore. Although modern, the styling is still taken from the mountain regions of Poland, where men are proud and stand tall, yet the mountainous terrain often causes them to lean forward so as to keep their balance. They also wear wide heavy leather belts that give them stiff support around their midriff. Women may be used to hard work (indeed!), but they are very light on their feet.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.

Kaczor from Kurpie

Kaczor is from the Green Kurpie Region of Poland located in the East Central part of Poland.
The name means drake (male duck) and the dance has evolved from a wedding march into a
show-off dance for men. A variation of steps allows us to incorporate women into the dance
so that it can be done either as a couple dance or as an individual dance for men. The version
described below is for couples and does not involve the more complicated walking in a
squatted position that the men would do if dancing alone. Choreographed by: Richard
Schmidt (2007).

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.

Kujawiak—The Dance of Romance

Originating in the Kujawy (Koo-YAH-vy) region of Poland, the Kujawiak is without a
doubt the most romantic of Poland’s five national dances. So popular are the melancholy
rhythms and beautiful movements that it is done in every part of Poland and interpreted
by artists around the world. The Kujawiak, due to its slower tempo, is a natural partner to
the vibrant and quick Oberek, many of which come from the central region of Łowicz,
and is therefore mostly performed by Polish Dance Ensembles in the Łowicz costume
(seen here on the right), however, as it is a national dance, it can be done in any of
Poland’s regional costumes. The Kujawiak is even included in many of today’s ballroom
dance competitions held in Poland, alongside the Cha Chas and Viennese Waltzes. This
beautiful interpretation will take you through the steps of a courtship.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.


From the town of Biłgoraj (beehw-GOH-righ) in the southeastern part of Poland
comes the dance Łysy (WEE-see), which means “bald-headed.” A strange name
indeed, but the name is derived from the lyrics of the song that accompanies the
melody. This dance is also found in the Ukraine under the name “Marysiu.” The
lyrics of the song and the melody have a strong Jewish influence.
Biłgoraj folklore has only recently become popular in the Polish Folk world due to
the passion of one instructor who teaches this region at the “Instructors’ Course”
given in Poland each year to young students from around the world. I learned this
dance in 2010 from one of my students, Matt Malacha, who took the course and
returned with an abundance of notes in hand, full of eagerness to choreograph a
Biłgoraj suite.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.


Malowane Łoze (Żywiec)

In the Beskid mountains, the local folk (Górale) of Żywiec, like all mountain folk throughout the south of Poland, have a style of music and dance unlike other parts of Poland. I choreographed
this dance, which is a compilation of typical steps and movements, to a song recorded by the young singers of the Tatry Folk Dance Ensemble from Oshawa, Ontario, whom I have the
pleasure of teaching. I chose the name “Malowane Łoze” (mah-LOH-vah-neh WHAW-zeh) because of the lyrics, which means “painted bed,” and it seems to fit the youthful voices that are
singing. This is a progressive couple dance.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.


Powitalny Polonez

The Polonez (poh-LOH-nez) is the oldest of Poland’s five national dances. The “Powitalny Polonez” (poh-VEE-tahl-nih), which means Welcoming Polonaise, was composed by the Polish composer Karol Kurpiński in the 1800s. The Polonez itself has no set choreography. However, due to the slower tempo and the ease of the steps and movements, everyone can join.
Often done to signify the opening of a ball or festivity, one couple will lead numerous couples in a walking procession around the floor that will take them through various movements and combinations that are typical for this dance. As a national dance, many forms of the dance can be found in all the regions of Poland. The Powitalny Polonez has been choreographed to make it feel intimate, as couples begin the dance with three other couples in a small circle but soon open up the dance to join and welcome the rest of the dancers in four large circles covering the whole floor, only to end back with their friends in their original circle.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.


Powolniak Kurpiowska Puszcza Zielona

Powolniak is a dance found solely in the Green Kurpie (KOOR-pyeh) region and is by far its most important. The name is derived from the word “wolny” (VOHL-nee) which means “slow” and is quite misleading as this dance is one of the fastest, with quick spinning demanding a lot of energy and control. There are several tunes and, oddly enough, they are composed in either 2/4 or 3/4 meter, with each tune having 2 or 3 different melodies that can have different
meters. Although the steps always remain the same, the dancers have to adapt their speed to the chosen tune. I have chosen a melody in 2/4 meter with 3 distinct melodies; the dance is divided into three parts to match the music (1) a warm-up, (2) a forward momentum, and (3) turning. An interesting note is that the Kurpie region, throughout its history, has been influenced by other cultures, mainly the Dutch and Swedish, and this dance will make many of you think of the Swedish Hambo.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.


Polka z Nogi from Lachy Są cz

The ethnographic region of Są cz (SOHNCH) lies in the southern part of Poland and is
divided into two groups: Lachy and Górale (mountaineers). The Lachy folk culture
originated in the Kraków region of Poland. The word “Lach,” derived from “Las,” which
means forest, is an old name for the inhabitants of forests. Polka z Nogi (POHL-kah ZNOH-
gee), or “Polka with Legs,” are dances in which, as the name indicates, the raising of the legs
plays an integral part of the movements. There are many variations and the dance is found in
several different regions. The Lachy Sacz (LAH-hih SOHNCH) versions have developed
over the last few decades to include a combination of alternating directions (CW or CCW)
while dancing LOD or RLOD, which make the dance quite exciting and challenging.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.


Polka-Mazur from Opoczno a.k.a. Tramblanka (Progressive)

The Polka-Mazur finds its roots in the town and surrounding areas of Opoczno and was
danced by couples at wedding celebrations and family events. In the 1950’s the dance
was adapted and popularized by the Polish State Folk Ballet “Mazowsze,” and this
stylized-version was named “Tramblanka” (trahm-BLAHN-kah). So popular was this
new version that it was adopted by the local folk ensembles from the Opoczno region. It
is a light and happy dance and this version gives the dancers a chance to change partners
and share in the fun.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.



On the eve of June 23rd, the shortest night of the year, the Poles celebrate St. John’s Eve, or, as it was known in pagan times “Sobótki.” (The name is derived from the Polish word “Sobota,” meaning Saturday.) Many celebrations included music and dancing, fireworks, boat parades and the lighting of bonfires. In some regions women celebrated the shortest night separately from men. Women threw herbs into the bonfire, hoping it would protect them from evil. Single women made wreaths from herbs and floated them down the river hoping that their future husband would find it and fall in love with them. It was called the “Throwing of Wreaths” (Rzucanie
Wianków). Men jumped through the bonfire to test their strength and courage. Even today, traditional candle-lit wreaths are floated on the Vistula in Krakow during the St. John the Baptist feast, along with fireworks and bonfires to commemorate the holiday. This non-partner dance is done to a “chodzony” (walking) melody, the precursor to the Polonaise.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.

Sarna from Żywiec

Sarna is a dance done by the Żywiec “gorale” (mountaineers) from the Beskid
Mountains. As is typical of all the mountain regions of Poland, much of the traditional
music has been brought into the 21st century and kept very much alive by a whole new
generation of Poles. The accompanying lyrics are also traditional and have been passed
down through the generations. “Sarna” translates into “roe-deer” and as the first line
indicates “Hej przez żywiecki pola leci sarna” – “Hey through the fields of Zywiec, the
deer are running”, the movements of the dance mimic the movements of a deer running
across the field.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.

Sztajerek from Lwów (Progressive)

Founded in the year 1250 by the Russian prince Lwa, Lwów was transferred in the year
1340 into Polish Dominion. City rights and privileges were bestowed to the city by
Kings Kazimierz the Great and Władisław Jagello (1386-1434) which became the basis
of its development and the source of its wealth. The city remained victorious in wars
against many would-be conquerors. During the First Division of Poland it found itself
under domination and was annexed as capital of the province of Galicia. From that
point on for the next 146 years and in spite of domination, it maintained zealously its
Polish culture. Since the end of World War II in 1945, it was given to the U.S.S.R., as
the borders of Europe were once again rearranged, and today is known as Lviv in the
Ukraine. Once the third largest city in Poland, it was compared to Vienna because of its
architectural beauty, academic studies and love for the Arts. It was a vibrant metropolis with a mixture of cultures living together in harmony and the songs and dances from this city reflect the pride and joy that the citizens felt for their beloved Lwów. The Sztajerek which developed during the 19 th  century partition of Poland finds its roots in the Austrian province of Steiermark. Consisting of two melodies: one smooth and one vibrant, it feels like the
combination of a fast waltz and an oberek. The Sztajerek can be found in several regions of Poland and although they all have the same basic pattern, they each have adopted the character specific to their region. The sztajerek from Lwów has special meaning to me as my father was born in Lwów, Poland in 1922 and I can imagine that he must have danced it on several occasions during his youth. (The picture above represents the coat of arms of the
city when under Polish rule).

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.


Szot Madziar

Located in the south of Poland on the border with the Czech Republic, the town of
Cieszyn is on the trade route known as the “Amber Road” and has therefore adopted
the traditions of several cultures over the centuries. The dance known as Szot
Madziar is one such dance that has been adopted from Hungarian folklore. The
dance has become more and more popular in the Polish Folk community and has
been included into the repertoire of many performing ensembles.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.

Taniec Wielki (Progressive)

The Polonez (poh-LOH-nehz) is the oldest of Poland's five national dances, and is
also known as the Taniec Wielki or Great Dance. The Polonez has no set
choreography, however due to the slower tempo and the facility of the steps and
movements, everyone can easily join in. Often done to signify the opening of a Ball or
Festivity, one couple will lead numerous couples in a walking procession around the
floor that will take them through various movements and combinations that are typical
for this dance. Although I mention that the steps are easy for the occasional
participant, when working with performing groups, the steps can in fact be quite difficult to perfect. The Basic Walking step for instance begins before the music even starts and is long and elegant with deep knee bends and no heels; the majority of people will just begin on the first count and simply walk around the floor. This is of course acceptable when our goal is to get everyone up and dancing, but if you plan to perform this choreography for stage with regular members of a troupe, then please try to teach them the proper steps, as they are so much more beautiful.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2008. View pdf here.

Walc Kurpiowska Puszcza Zielona

The basic folk waltz or walc (“vahlts”) as it is known in Polish is a universal dance
done by many the world over at social gatherings and weddings. It is by no means a
ballroom waltz, but it does have its own character. What distinguishes the Kurpie
Waltz from that done in other Polish regions is the lightness and speed of the steps
along with the occasional pivoting with bending of a knee to throw the foot behind
the dancer. The title translates as the Green forest waltz form Kurpie.
Dancers should stay quite erect with shldrs back and arms extended out parallel to
the floor. They should also remain quite close to each to facilitate the quick
rotations. Choreographed by Richard Schmidt.

Presented by Richard Schmidt in 2012. View pdf here.