Ida and Stefan Boron
In 1966 Poland celebrated 1000 years of Christianity. A group of Polish and Scottish youth were hurriedly “cobbled together” to perform some Polish songs and dances at the millennium ball held in Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms to mark the occasion. At the time no one could have predicted that this was to lead to the inauguration of the Polish Song and Dance Ensemble, Ojczyzna in 1967.
Over the next 30 years, the group grew in stature, built on expertise from both Poland and Scotland in the development of its repertoire of Polish music song and dance.
Ojczyzna, which means “Motherland”, encompasses national, regional and religious traditions in its repertoire. Covering such diverse themes as the Mazurka and Polonaise (danced at the royal court and made famous during the Napoleonic era) through the dynamic folklore of the regions of Kraków, Rzeszów, Lublin, Łowicz and the city dwellers of Żywiec, to the raucous and boisterous dances and songs of the Polish Highlands.
The pictures show amongst other things themes from the highlands, where the dances included the “ciupaga” or highland axe, and the dynamic acrobatic lifts of the Oberek from central Poland and the Lajkonik a “hobby–horse” from the City of Kraków.
The ensemble was supported throughout its history by both the Polish and Scottish communities. The material for group costumes was often sourced in Scotland with the special expertise of kilt makers in the weaving and pleating of cloth while the Lancer’s uniforms in particular were created with the invaluable help of the curator of the military museum in Edinburgh Castle.
The group performed at venues all over Scotland, the rest of UK and abroad mainly at international folk festivals. A long acquaintance with the Scottish Dunedin Dancers from Edinburgh University led the group into “social” folk dancing, the “norm” at such events creating a special brand ‘Scottish–Polish Ceilidh dancing’.
In 2001 the ensemble “returned” to Poland to its homeland with a series of concerts in Silesia. The Polish Scottish repertoire included a story of the “kilt” Scottish dancing and the Scottish bagpipes too. After all Bonnie Prince Charlie did have Polish roots.
Stefan Boroń – Artistic Director.