For 70 years, The Polish American Folk Dance Company, Inc. (PAFDC) of Brooklyn, NY, has proudly presented authentic and energetic performances to both the Polish and American communities. Our strength emerges from the body of members who consistently lend their time, energy, and unending talents to realize the vision our founder had set forth: to preserve and perpetuate the spirited songs and dances of Poland in the melting-pot of America.
The Company, organized in New York City in 1938 under the auspices of the Polish Workmen’s Aid Fund, was founded by Frances Wesołowska-Popławska who was intent on preserving and illustrating the magnificent Polish folk songs and dances she treasured for Americans of Polish descent. With the support of various notable Polish organizations, such as the Kościuszko Foundation and the Polish-American Aid Fund, Mrs. Popławska fashioned a unique Polish folk dance group paying particular attention to traditional folk elements, which she combined with classical ballet training.
In 1968 Mrs. Popławska relegated the artistic direction of the group to Mr. Stanley Pelc. With an undeniable passion for Polish folk culture and boundless enthusiasm, Mr. Pelc transformed PAFDC into the exceptional dance company it still is today. He worked tirelessly for nearly thirty years to increase its repertoire and amass an extraordinary collection of authentic, hand-made folk costumes from Poland. Furthermore, under Mr. Pelc’s direction the dance company earned a reputation of being one of the most distinguished amateur Polish folk dance companies in the world. In 1979 the Polish government presented Mr. Pelc with the prestigious Oskar Kolberg Award for his work in researching, preserving, and presenting authentic Polish folk culture to American audiences.
Upon Mr. Pelc’s retirement in 1996, Daniel Dziadura was chosen as Artistic Director of the Company. Mr. Dziadura, an accomplished dancer, earned his choreographic training in Poland at the Lublin University School for Polish Ethnography and Folk Dance. Under his direction the dance company sprinted into the modern era. The rehearsal hall’s new state of-the-art sound system was brought in and centuries-old music suddenly had a brand new sound when played on CD’s and mini-discs. An authentic Kapela Ludowa or folk band was organized to play live musical accompaniment for new choreography. And finally an award-winning website was designed which continues to be maintained by dance company members.
In 2005 the Polish American Folk Dance Company experienced a reorganizing of its directorship again, however, this time the position was divided into two separate, specific roles. Margaret Pawelkiewicz became the Executive Director. While the job of Artistic Director was assigned to Mr. Ryszard Sudol who is PAFDC’s first native-born Polish director. Mr. Sudol ‘s dance studies in classical ballet, folk dancing and choreography were completed at the College of Pedagogy and Choreography in Kielce, Poland. His unique, energetic perspective has enhanced PAFDC with a newfound energy.
Mr. Sudol’s exceptional creativity has proven essential in choreographing new and original dance numbers on request for such elegant affairs such as the annual ball of the American Institute of Polish Culture in Miami, Florida and the Kosciuszko Foundation Ball held at the Waldorf Astoria. Additionally, Mr. Sudol was instrumental in initiating a new branch of the dance company known as the Juniors. This group was specifically designed to train teen and pre-teen dancers who wish to continue on to the adult group.
Currently, PAFDC has a repertoire in excess of 25 folk dance suites from different regions of Poland and owns over 600 individual costumes. PAFDC continues to grow with musical accompaniment of its Kapela Ludowa managed by group member Andrzej Buczek. And a performing children’s group, established by Assistant Artistic Director to the Kids Alice Karpinski-Bajno, is flourishing. This past summer, PAFDC invited two professional dancers from Poland of The Mazowsze Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble to conduct a two-week workshop. Members from all three PAFDC groups participated in the intense study program that produced five newly choreographed dance suites.
PAFDC’s performance history is diverse and prolific. The company has attended, most recently in 2002, nine World Festivals of Polish Folk Song and Dance in Rzeszow, Poland. In 1999, to mark the 150th anniversary of Chopin’s death, PAFDC was invited to celebrate with a commemorative performance at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. Moreover, the company has presented exclusive dance compositions at banquets for such distinguished guests of honor as Princess Grace of Monaco, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henryk Gorecki, Lech Walesa and most notably his eminence Pope John Paul II.
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