Wawel Folk Ensemble Practise
Who is the Wawel Folk Ensemble and how are they lighting up downtown Hamtramck on a frosty January night?
The short answer is that the ensemble is a dynamic dance group under the direction of Tom and Donna Skurski, who bring with them over thirty years worth of experience in ballet and Polish folk dancing.
A longer version is that that the Ensemble was founded in 1965 as the first adult Polish exhibition troupe in the Detroit area. With a keen eye to authenticity in costume and dance, Wawel has increased its technical excellence and collection to program material with each passing year.
The Ensemble's performances are many and varied - from featured spots to full-length concerts and special appearances with full symphony in concerts of Polish classical music. Wawel is asked to perform on a regular basis for some of Detroit area's most prestigious organizations, and has appeared at Governor's inaugurations, for Pope John Paul's visit, and was honored to perform at a special luncheon for former President Ronald Reagan.
As charter members of the Polish Folk Dance Association of the North Americas, the group has participated in each of the U.S. festivals to date. In 1980, 1983, 1989, 1996, and 1999 the troupe attained worldwide recognition when they performed, and toured various Polish cities as part of the Rzeszow International Festivals. In 1986 the Ensemble was presented with the Oskar Kolberg Award for strengthening the ties between Polonia and Poland.
The Visionalist crew was on hand January 17 to film a practice session in Hamtramck, where the group displayed many of the moves that have made them beloved throughout the Polish community.
Younger members Aaron Tabaczynski and Alicia Chmielewski, caught at a rare moment of relaxation as the group was doing a dance they had not yet learned, shared their enthusiasm this way: “Wawel gives us pride in our ancestry, it’s a great way to learn more about the Polish culture…”