Day 1(+2), August 7-8:
The Longest Day (50 hours)
Polonia´s trip to Brazil has been quite an adventure. Traveling itself was an experience that we will never forget. Our trip began with a flight from Chicago to Miami. But due to bad weather conditions it was delayed. What we first believed was just a little delay turned out to be the cause of many problems. By the time we arrived in Miami our flight to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil was already gone. The next flight would be in almost 24 hours. We took this news well and made the best of the day, but it was the longest day of our lives.
Tired from the trip we all wanted to sleep, but this was something almost impossible to do because we were constantly moved around. Finally after a long night in a deserted airport, we were given a little corner to call our own where we passed out. Later we found out that other groups got to stay at a 5 star hotel, and sleep in comfy beds while we experienced the pleasures of sleep on a concrete/carpet floor. But we made the best of the situation by finding plenty of ways to keep ourselves busy and entertained. By doing so not only did we make this a memorable experience but we also grew closer together as a group.After the long 24 hours of waiting, we were finally able to take the next flight to Rio de Janeiro. When we finally landed, we were quite relieved; unfortunately there was yet another flight ahead of us.
After our final flight, we were greeted at the Brasilia airport by the Consul General from the Polish embassy in Brasilia, Piotr Pisarewicz, and his lovely wife Ewa. They provided us with a very nice and quick tour of the capitol, Brasilia, and some of its highlights such as a beautiful modern church and the embassy. They also talked to us about our stay in Brazil, explained to us some of the dangers, and gave us some tips about staying safe. After the tour they provided us with a delicious meal which was very appreciated by us, especially aftrer the long and tiring trip. With their warm hearts and hospitalitly they made us feel right at home.
However, we had to continue our trip, as a long bus ride from Brasilia to Anapolis awaited us. But after surviving our stay at MIA, this was a piece of cake. After over 50 hours of traveling we made it to our destination, were safe and serene, were finally able to take well deserved showers and recuperate from our ordeal.
Day 3, August 9 (Thursday): Well Deserved Reward
After our arduous journey, our group woke up rested and refreshed, and ready for what was to be a most wonderful day. After a hearty breakfast, sampling some of the best Brazil had to offer; the dancers and parents donned their bathing suits and started enjoying our two swimming pools and water slide. Others discovered the soccer and volleyball courts and spent good portions of our day off wasting some of our pent up energy.
Our hotel is a beautiful place, very much resembling a country villa, with palm trees providing shade for the occupants, and a small arboretum with a whole family of peacocks.
Later that day, a Brazilian newscast agency arrived to interview the groups staying at our hotel, as well as video tape portions of our dance numbers. We stunned them with a rousing performance of Krakowiak, topped off by our Lajkonik. Two of our star dancers, Tomek Tarnowski and Julia Tucci, had the honor to be interviewed for Brazil TV.
After a filling Brazilian dinner, we organized a Polish discotheque and introduced the other dance groups to our style of dance and our unique form of having fun. This was a great way to interact with other groups, and rounded off a long and relaxing day. However, we knew that the next day was to be long and difficult, but after this much fun, we were ready!
Day 4, August 10 (Friday): Parade and Opening Ceremony
Friday dawned bright and early for all of us; some rose, some shone, some just rolled over…
Friday was the day we were all looking forward to, our official introduction to the public of Anapolis and Brazil. After a restful nights sleep and hearty breakfast, we were led out to downtown Anapolis, to take part in a parade that would show us off to our captive audience. We had a wonderful walk through downtown, singing our hearts out and showing off key aspects of several dances. Rzeszow was a kick with the crowds, and it personally gave me a great opportunity to belt out some strong bars! At the end of the parade we were greeted by the Mayor of Anapolis; a wonderful man, with a politicians knack for giving speeches. Each of the dance groups then performed a short sample number for the gathered crowd, an appetizer of sorts to rouse the enthusiasm of the populace for more extravagant performances. Our presentation, a segment from the Krakowiak, allowed us to show off not only our dancing prowess, but our vocal skills as well, as our choral section provided the entirety of the accompaniment for the dancers. The audience provided their rousing support at this performance, their cheers actually helped our concentration by giving us a little burst of adrenaline, and one of the groups started providing some rhythmical support with their traditional instruments. A wondrous combination indeed!
After knowledge of a job well done, (and a satisfying meal in our bellies), we were more than ready to take on the challenge of our first official performance. We had our first practice session that got us organized for our appearance in the opening ceremony. This bit went rather quickly, especially accounting for the language barrier that was present before our wonderful translator, Guiliana, informed us of the intentions of the head choreographer. A quick run through of our program followed, and a final bit of relaxation commenced before the concert.
The opening ceremony was a simple, yet elegant affair, where each of the groups performed select dance numbers. Many of the Latin American groups performed dances that seemed familiar to us all as they were based off of samba or rumba type pieces. Other groups such as the Brazilian group that was sharing our hotel performed a very unique piece that was part war dance and part mystical pyrotechnics. Polonia ended up performing the Suite from the region of Slask, as well as the Krakowiak.
As night broke out, we soon realized that our short program would be plagued by something we didn’t expect… the cold. The night got to be rather chilly, and for those waiting in the back lot for their chance to go on, it got to be somewhat uncomfortable. Our fears of catching pneumonia were quickly allayed when our performance commenced. The warm feelings generated by the crowd were enough to drive away the chill of evening air and their ear-splitting cheers drove us onward toward goodliness*!
Their cries of excitement and applause will forever be burned into my memory. But most important of all, it is the knowledge that I have expanded these peoples horizons and their sincere appreciation and admiration of our effort that makes everything worthwhile.
Friday night’s sleep was well deserved, and all went to bed with satisfied hearts.
Day 5, August 11 (Saturday): First Concert
The rising of the new sun heralded another exciting day for Polonia. The day began simply for some, a quick dip in the pool or some volleyball. But there was one thing even more exciting… our first animation was today! This does not mean that a cartoonist was to do our likenesses; instead we were to present a dance and then invite members of the audience to try their hands (and feet) at a selected Polish dance. I would have recommended a number from the Highland regions, but everyone thought that a Polonaise was a good idea. This was not to be however.
Upon arrival at the venue, we were somewhat disheartened to find out that the entire seating area was deserted. It seems that our show time coincided with the local siesta, so it appeared that no one would show up. In cases such as this, I go by the old adage, “When life gives you lemons, use them as ammunition.” Instead of an animation, this became a general practice for the following day’s song and dance numbers. Piekna Nasza went beautifully, and the song went great as well. Plus my fear that there would be no spectators was unfounded, as the Consul General from the Polish embassy in Brasilia, Piotr Pisarewicz, and his wife Ewa, drove all the way from the capitol specifically to see us perform. Another welcome addition was our Glee Club from the hotel. Their cheers filled the emptiness as if it were a full house! During the performance of Rzeszow, this gave us the boost we needed to pull off many of the most difficult moves. This performance was especially powerful and emotional for the Consul General and his wife, for one of the parents related to us that both of them had tears in their eyes as they cheered us on!
Our good fortune with this performance seemed to be a harbinger for Sunday’s concert, but instead of dwelling on omens, we went shopping! After massive restocking of vital supplies, we began our final practice before our big day. Sunday was to be our crowning jewel, a 45 minute performance that showcased our greatest dances! The final practice polished out any of the rougher areas in the dances, as well as allowed for some last minute adjustments. Saturday nights rest was well earned and quite necessary for the Sunday performance.
So until the next installment, farewell from the land of parrots, palm trees, and dance!
"I was looking at the blueprints on how to open the window. Those aren't the blueprints on how to open the window! Those are the blueprints of the Boulder Dam!?"
Day 6, August 12 (Sunday):
Polonia's Spiritual Impact on Anapolis
Brazil turned out to be more than everyone expected. Our hotel may be compared to Mexico’s and the Caribbean’s. Its architecture and scenery put everyone in a tropical vacation mood. On August 12th we had the opportunity to celebrate Fathers Day in Brazil.
Because this was a Sunday, all the groups from the festival, including ours, went to church dressed up in their traditional dance costumes. However what really surprised our group was the way in which the mass was held. Every group had a song or dance prepared to sing. When it was our groups turn to participate in the mass, Ola Podowska sang Barka. What really touched us was how emotionally the congregation reacted with tears.
Once it came to the offering of the gifts all the groups participated. Especially when it came to the offering of the gifts and the presentation of the Bible, we found the Brazilians traditions to be very different from ours. For instance when the Bible was brought up to the alter they danced and sang their way with it. Afterwards lifter in the air everyone would clap.
As everyone looked around the Brazilians were celebrating this Fathers Day Mass we took it to heart to have our two fathers with us on the trip, Mr. Tucci and Mr. Pacyniak recognized.
Later that day we had our most intense concert. What really moved us was when a group of Brazilians boys and girls cheered us on by singing We Love You Polonia. Our celebration continued at a club with the rest of the dance groups. But our excitement never ended, it always continued to the following day.
Day 7, August 13 (Monday): Pirenopolos
Waking up after a fun filled day at the disco, everyone was glad that today was a free day. We had a choice to either sleep in until lunch, or go to breakfast and hit the pool later. But the main attraction of the day was the trip to Pirenopolis. Every group participating in the festival traveled 45 minutes by bus to this old and beautiful city. Dancers who went to Bulgaria in 2005 were quickly reminded. The scenery was very different than Anapolis, and the complete opposite of the modern-today Brasilia. The roads and streets were very narrow and almost everything was made from rock and brick. The city was founded in 1727, and it shows. Cars and bikes look very out of place, and walking thru that city brings you back in time. There were many small shops that sold locally made jewelry, clothing, and alcohol. The city prides itself in its history and most of the houses and roads are all original since the 18thcentury. All the dancers enjoyed buying gifts, eating the traditional food, and most of all, having a break from dancing. After hours of shopping and picture taking we all retired back to the resort to continue the everyday nightly activities.
Day 8, August 14 (Tuesday): Regular Workday
Day 9, August 15 (Wednesday): The Last Day of the Festival
Waking up to moms screaming to get up at 6 A.M. is definitely nothing pleasant. But walking in a parade was really fun. People cheering, people taking pictures, and waving, feeling so known and special is a great feeling. After the long and tiring parade all the groups got together and danced. Unfortunately the fun did have to end sometime. We got on the bus and drove to the hotel to learn the steps for the concert later that night.
After sitting there for an hour we hurried to our rooms, got dressed and hopped on the bus. Warszawska went very well and everyone still had a good time. Dancing on stage for the closing ceremony of the festival was a blast. All the groups were on stage; it was so exciting! After not eating for 10 hours, we go on the bus and headed for the hotel. As soon as we arrived, we all sprinted to the dining area. Finally! Later we dragged ourselves to our rooms, exhausted from dancing. We packed, went to sleep, and in the morning it was off to Rio!
Day 10, August 16 (Thursday): Feeling the Power of Christ the Redeemer
Day 11, August 17 (Friday): Sweeeet!!!
It was an early and inactive morning that we woke up to. We were worn out from the traveling the day before. Somehow we pulled our acts together. As we consumed our breakfast, we vigorously with high spirits, were ready for the day ahead of us. We started the day off by connecting with our Savior, Jesus Christ, at “Catedral Metropolitana de Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro.” It was a terrific way to start of the day. We said our prayers and learned about the history. The four stained glass windows in vivid colors filter the sunlight in the Catedral. Each of the immense four windows goes up the walls to the roof, forming a cross if you look straight up. The windows differ in shape and color creating a magical atmosphere. We learned that there were four colors that represented each of the four stained glass: Green-unity, Red- Saintity, Blue- the church is universal, and Yellow- the Church is apostolic. This enormous place of 96 meters can fit 20,000 worshipers. The cathedral is only used for important and essential occasions. Therefore, there is a chapel in the back were mass is also held.
On our way to H. Stern we ran into plenty of natural elevations, streams, tunnels, etc. We passed by many museums, parks, huge sand castles carved by man and memorials. We did not get a chance to stop by, but we got to admire their beauty from the four wheels moving and window in front of us. We spotted out many hills, churches, bays and canals. We caught a glimpse of The Gloria Church that was built in 1714 and Ipanema Beach which we learned was mostly for the sophisticated and wealthy. We set eyes on the lovely two Brother Mountains. We also learned that children’s public schools are not too valuable, but the public colleges are very effective.
Once we arrived to our destination of H. Stern we admired the wonderful jewels and even purchased some of them. We went through a workshop that taught us how the jewelers make the beautiful jaw dropping works. The store in Ipanema is the world headquarters. Its precious stones are really something to go and check out.
After, we arrived to the beautiful Sugar Loaf Mountain, which is also one of the main attractions of Rio de Janeiro. Our group arrived there and took the most popular way of reaching the top the cable car - a system that has been in operation since 1912 that can hold about 71 passengers. Sugar Loaf is said to be about 750m (2460ft). There were to trips, the first one was 220m (720ft) and some people decided that that was enough for them and decided to stay. The group that visited the highest point admired the view and after we all made it safely to the ground once again using a cable car. While we were there we witnessed people rock climbing, it was an amazing view, and honor to see these people so high in the air.
The day was filled with many wonderful experiences and I am sure that the group will keep these memories in their hearts. I would like to thank all the parents, teachers, sponsors and all my friends for a wonderful and significant trip.
Zespól Piesni i Tanca "Polonia" tanczyl sambe w Brazylii zmowa z Celina Roznowska i Anna Krysinski
- Czy trudno zatanczyc sambe w kraju, gdzie taniec ten jest niemal narodowa ikona?
- Bardzo trudno. Samba to narodowy taniec Brazylii, w metrum parzystym (4/4), o brawurowym tempie, bogaty w przerózne wariacje. Nam wszystkim kojarzy sie z festiwalem w Rio.
- Kazdego roku "Polonia" uczestniczy w folklorystycznych festiwalach miedzynarodowych. Zespól stal sie miedzynarodowa wizytówka.
- Milo to slyszec. Juz od kilku lat jestesmy zapraszani. Jedziemy do najdalszych zakatków swiata, by tam prezentowac nasz polski folkor. Cieszymy sie, ze do kazdego kraju wieziemy czastke naszej bogatej kultury. Wszyscy podziwiaja nasz taniec, nasze stroje ludowe i mówia...jaka piekna to Polska. To nas ogromnie raduje.
- Jaki charakter mialo wasze artystyczne tournee do Brazylii?
- Uczestniczylismy w Miedzynarodowym Festiwalu Folklorystycznym "Anapolis - Goias". Patronat nad festiwalem sprawuje Miedzynarodowa Rada Stowarzyszen Folklorystycznych, Festiwali i Sztuki Ludowej - CIOFF- Organizacja ta kazdego roku opiekuje sie 250 festiwalami miedzynarodowymi, w których uczestniczy ponad 70 tysiecy wykonawców.
- Jak wygladala wasza tura koncertowa?
- Najpierw wyladowalismy w Brasillii - stolicy kraju. Na lotnisku wital nas ambasador RP, pan Piotr Pisarewicz. Zaprosil nas do ambasady, zorganizowano dla nas poczestunek. Spotkanie bylo nader serdeczne. Dzieki ambasadorowi zwiedzilismy Brasilie. Stolica kraju przedziwna...szerokie ulice, domy w rózych stylach. Kazdemu wydaje sie, ze to miasto ambasad, ministerstw, urzedów...Mnie troche przypominalo Nowa Hute.
- Koncertowaliscie w stolicy?
- O, nie. Naszym punktem docelowym bylo miasto Anapolis. Pedzilismy tam autobusem, podziwiajac przedziwny brazylijski pejzaz. . W hotelu przypominajacym "country villa" byl krótki odpoczynek, troche relaksu, potem przerózne aktywnosci, sporty, a nawet dyskoteka. Pojawila sie telewizja brazyliska. Po wywiadach zademonstrowalismy im krakowiaka, byli oczarowani.
- Ale ja wciaz czekam na ceremonie otwarcia.
- Byla bardzo uroczysta. Festiwal rozpoczal sie przemarszem - parada. Maszerowalismy krokiem tanecznym przez glówna arterie miasta, prezentujac niektóre uklady taneczne, byla tez muzyka i spiew. Wokól tlumy ludzi. Nasze stroje ludowe bardzo sie podobaly. Skandowano: Polonia, Polonia, Polonia. Potem wital wszystkich burmistrz miasta i...widowisko sie rozpoczelo. Na poczatku kazda grupa (12) prezentowala swój krótki program. Podzwilialismy tancerzy latynoskich. Tanczyli rumbe i sambe. Ale nasz krakowiak podobal sie najbardziej.
- Festiwal trwal kilka dni. Jaka byla atmosfera?
- Cudowna. Niezwyklu luz i relaks. Brazylijczycy nie spiesza sie, sa bardzo sympatyczni.. Tam jakis balsam w powietrzu czyni wszystkich nader zrelaksowanymi. Podobo te lagodnosc charakteru zaszczepili Brazylijczykom Portugalczycy, jeszcze za czasów kolonialnych, i tak juz zostalo.
- Jakim programem podbiliscie serca widowni?
- Pokazalismy kolorowa moziake naszego folkloru, jakze ciekawa. Byly tance warminskie, rzeszowskie, krakowskie, slaskie, lowickie. Podobaly sie nasze uklady chorograficzne, dynamika, ekspresja, elegancja. Nie wspomne juz o strojach, które robily furrore.
- Jak prezentowali sie Brazylijczycy? Ich folklor okraszony jest przezciez goracymi rytmami Afryki.
- To bardzo urodziwy i uzdolniony tanecznie naród. Tanczono sambe, ogniscie i z werwa. Tancerki odziane byly w szerokie spódnice, czesto nie widac bylo nóg, ale tym strojem sie gra, on pomaga w tancu, w którym wszystko wazne, kazdy ruch glowy, gracja calego ciala. W ich niektórych tancach istotna role odgrywa wodzirej, od niego zalezy wszystko. Tak bywalo ongis na dawnych starpolskich balach.
- Fado, fado...
- Mnie fado kajarzy sie raczej z Portugalia. To iberyjski blues, kuzyn samotnosci, tesknoty i rozpaczy. Ale slychac w nim tez echa brazylijskie. Tutaj tez slyszelismy te smutne melodie, ten zal, te nostalgie. Byl taniec nawiazujacy do fado, z bardzo nostalgiczna i smutna muzyka. - Potem bylo Rio de Janeiro, dawna stolica kraju.
- To perla Brazylii, majaca cechy ziemskiego raju. Urzeka kolorytem, pejzazem i odmiennoscia. Te wysepki wynurzajace sie z wody, ta architekturza, te plaze, ten niesamowity urok i relaks. Przede wszystkim podziwialismy statue Chrystysa Zbawiciela, zwanego tu Cristo Redentor. Posag monumentalny spoziera na miasto ze szczytu Corcovado Mountains. Statua jakze wymowna. Chrystys z rozlozonymi ramionami, jakby gotowymi objac miasto i caly swiat. Zwiedzilismy tez "Glowe Cukru". Podziwialismy Estado Municipal do Maracana, najwiekszy pilkarski stadion swiata. Wyglada niczym bunkier. Oczarowala nas katedra sw. Sebastiana. Swiatynia w postaci scietej piramidy, o pieknych witrazach.
- To prawda, Rio zauroczy kazdego. Wciaz pamietam mój pobyt w tym miescie. A Polonica brazylijskie?
- W Brazylii mieszka 1,5 mln Polaków, niestety sa rozproszeni. W Rio uczestniczylismy w obchodach Dnia Zolnierza Polskiego. Obecny byl polski korpus dyplomatyczny, reprezentanci rzadu brazylijskiego i miejscowa Polonia. Bylo bardzo uroczyscie i wspomnieniowo. Honorowano bowiem weteranów II wojny swiatowej. Dalismy koncert wraz z innym polskim zespolem z Walbrzycha, który byl doskonaly wokalnie.
- O czym jeszcze nie powiedzielismy?
- Podczas festiwalu prowadzilismy warsztaty polskich tanców, uczylismy nauczycieli szkól publicznych. Byly tez animacje z dziecmi, którym bardzo podobal sie krakowiak.
- Tyle sukcesów, ale nie przywiezliscie zadnej nagrody?
- Jakze nie, mamy piekny dyplom, takze wiele upominków od organizatorów, wladz miasta i innych zespolów. My tez rozdawalismy upominki. Byly to lalki ludowe, plyty CD i wiele innych. Na tym festiwalu nie byly przyznawane nagrody. Najwieksza nagroda dla nas jest swiadomosc, ze upowszechniamy polska kulture. Cieszymy sie wszyscy, ze Polska postrzegana jest w swiecie jako kraj o bogatej 1000-letniej historii, nader interesujacym folklorze. Wiecej o nas w internecie http://dance.prcua.org/poloniaensamble e-mail:email@example.com
- Mozna zatem rzec, taniec to zycie... Dalszych sukcesów dla "Polonii". Rozmwaial: Janusz Kopec Chicago, Sep 16.2007