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Author: Katarzyna Siwczyk     Published At: 17.05.2024
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Dance Ensemble “Dąbrowiacy” celebrates 50 years together

The Academic Dance Ensemble of the Silesian University of Technology “Dąbrowiacy” celebrates its 50th anniversary. On Saturday, a jubilee concert will take place in Mrowisko. Dancers of several age groups will appear on the stage, including seniors who, despite the passage of years, still actively cooperate with the group. The team members shared their memories with us.

It was May 1974. Already then there was a festival of students – Juvenalia. Young, talented dancers and singers appeared on the stage to perform in front of their colleagues. This was the debut of the Academic Dance Ensemble of the Silesian University of Technology “Dąbrowiacy.” The debut came after a few months of preparations, because the first meetings of the group of dancers took place in November 1973. How would students react today to the performance of the group promoting folk culture and folklore - we do not know, but the ensemble, despite the passage of years and changing trends, still exists and is doing well.

– We are observing a recurring fashion for folklore – says Barbara Lisiecka, acting head of “Dąbrowiacy.” The young staff, who heads the polytechnical folklore group, debunks harmful myths about folk culture. – There was a time when it was associated with kitsch, but it is over. I am proud of this. In the group we show the best version of our traditions, culture, dances, songs, and we are all convinced that this has great value and quality – adds Barbara Lisiecka.

The team survived various storms. Historical, political, ideological, and more recently also pandemic. - In addition to the pandemic, the team also survived three removals of the entire property, that is, over fifty cabinets, costumes, three pianos, two double bass, an entire office full of documents, and even lack of space for practice - says Barbara Lisiecka.

We met with the members of the group almost on the eve of their jubilee concert on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of their activity, which will take place on Saturday, May 18th at the Mrowisko Student Culture Centre.

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As in the family

“We have returned to rehearsals, although we are not actively part of the team on a daily basis. But we could not miss it on this momentous day. This is an important part of our life – admitted Lida Szuścik.

We are a typical team couple. We met in the ensemble, we fell in love there and we got married too – added Bogdan Szuścik, Lidia’s husband. “Today is the 38th anniversary of the wedding,” he added with a tear in his eye.

It was a significant day not only for Lydia and Bogdan, but also for the whole team. On the day of the wedding, “Dąbrowiacy” accompanied all couples who met in the ensemble and prepared a unique setting. – The husband on that day was wearing traditional polish clothes, and bridesmaids and friends were dressed in costumes from the Duchy of Warsaw. They looked beautiful; Lidia recalled.

“My wife didn’t have a folk costume, but her dress was also unique. We brought it from an ensemble trip to Turkey. It was 1986. There were no showrooms with wedding dresses in Poland at the time, so we used the trip abroad to find something. On this trip, contrary to superstition, I went to the shops with my future wife, and she tried on various dresses. Finally, we chose the first one that caught our eye – recalls Bogdan.

The couple has two children, a son, and a daughter, who also danced in the ensemble during their childhood and college, and the daughter was even a singing and traditional dance instructor for a while.

The children travelled with us. We took them to rehearsals. Among the families of “Dąbrowiacy” there were such wonderful relations that we also went on holiday together, spent time together outside rehearsals, created a kind of commune – recalls Lidia.

– To this day we go to our weddings, celebrations, we support each other. We feel in the group as in a family – adds Barbara Lisiecka.

Some in this family play the role of aunts and uncles. In my case, my uncle will soon turn into a grandfather. I am already at this age when the youngest members of the band want to address me as a Mister, and I am sad that time is running out and soon we will be replaced by a new generation – adds with nostalgia Andrzej Zaczkowski – the band’s manager and accompanist.

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The door to a better world

Andrzej Zaczkowski has been associated with “Dąbrowiacy” for forty years He has spent his entire adult life with the ensemble. After graduating from the Music School, he became an accordion player in the group music band and so, to this day, he is the core of the musical part of the band.

It was a time when there were no phones or computers. I received the message that I could join the band exactly on January 1st, 1985. To this day I have this yellowed letter in a drawer – recalls the musician with a smile. – In those days it was a huge promotion and a chance, also to go somewhere – he adds.

For his first group trip he went to Prague, Czechoslovakia. The joy of the musicians and band members on the trips was all the greater because they received delegations paid in dollars or currency books, which allowed them to earn money and, at the same time, opened the possibility of shopping abroad. In Poland, there were empty shelves, while abroad it was a different reality.

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“When I joined the group, I didn’t know there would be an opportunity to go anywhere. That happened later. My first trip was to the Soviet Union – Novosibirsk and Moscow. “It was 1980,” Lidia recalled.

Martial law was introduced in Poland in 1981. The dream of going on any trip was only a dream. The “Dąbrowiacy” were lucky and a year later they left for Italy.

– We took part in the audience with John Paul II. We sang for him, “God, save Poland.” Imagine how important it was for us, to be there at such a moment, in such circumstances – recalls Lidia.

From each trip, “Dąbrowiacy” brought a lot of memories and new acquaintances. Some of them still exist to this day.

– Our children met Chinese women during one of these trips, who even visited us in Poland, and then we visited them in Hong Kong – recalls Bogdan and adds that nothing built relationships like feasting and dancing together, they have broken down all language and communication barriers.

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Way of life

Dancing is just a way of life. “Few men can dance,” Bogdan said and admitted that this skill was very useful to him. – I would encourage you to learn to dance, because I had to dance with women decision-makers –and thanks to the fact that I managed to do it somehow, I came out well – recalls the dancer.

Leszek Dulak joined the band together with his colleagues in 1993, among other things, in order to meet girls.

– At the time when I was studying, there were almost only men at the Faculty of Civil Engineering. We decided to go to the rehearsal with our colleagues to get to know the fair sex in the band. It turned out that there were actually more girls, they had to try harder to join the team. There were definitely fewer men, there were shortages of staff, so we joked that even those with a lame leg would be suitable for dancing, if they showed willingness – recalls Leszek.

After a ten-year break, he returned to the band to dance at a jubilee concert.

– It is out of longing for folklore, for music and dance. This cannot be forgotten. I thought that it would be difficult for me to join again, but I quickly made up and I am very happy that I will dance again in two sets – added Leszek Dulak.

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The new generation

In addition to real veterans, the team is also formed by representatives of the so-called new generation.

Among them is Julka Wróbel.

– I came to the rehearsal at the Employees’ Club, to the room with a beautiful parquet floor and it made a nice impression on me. The ensemble greeted me very kindly – says Julia and adds that after a few days in the group she suffered a crisis. “We usually have more difficult rehearsals on Thursdays, and I had enough after the first such Thursday. The next day I barely got out of bed, I had acidosis, but in the end, I survived and I’m in the group for the third year.

Julia is a student. During rehearsals he meets with graduates of the Silesian University of Technology, as well as current employees and pensioners. All of them, shoulder to shoulder on one floor, above the divisions, form a harmonious whole.

The team’s leadership hopes that the new generation will also believe in the meaning of folklore.

I believed it, but the beginning was not encouraging. When I entered the rehearsal room, there were grandma’s curtains hanging on the windows, some old mirrors on the walls, tablets written in Cyrillic, but that’s nothing, because there were a lot of people around who danced beautifully and it influenced my decision that I wanted to be a part of this ensemble – recalls Barbara Lisiecka.

After the solemn jubilee of the 50th anniversary, the wishes for “Dąbrowiacy” were obvious – last us a hundred years!

I wish it were not only a hundred, but the whole eternity. As long as a world exists, as long we live in a free country, let us cultivate folklore, because these are our roots, which must be taken care of and passed on to the next generations – said Andrzej.

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