Unesco recognition for polonaise dance

Unesco recognition for polonaise

POLONAISE: Can be danced by a few participants or hundreds Photo credit: CC/Sq7obj

THE polonaise, Poland’s traditional dance, will be added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List on December 5.

It will be the sixth Polish custom to receive UNESCO recognition, following the Cracow Nativity Scene (2018), Beekeeping (2020), Falconry (2021), Floral Carpets during Corpus Christi religious processions (2021) and Rafting (2022).

The dance, which is embedded in Polish culture and can be traced back to the 16th century, was originally called “Walking” before it evolved into the more familiar Polonaise by the 18th century.

One of Poland’s five traditional dancesbut probably the best-known – the polonaise’s symbolic significance has been recognised by UNESCO and described as “an open, egalitarian dance that fosters unity beyond divisions.”

Outside Poland, a polonaise inevitably brings to mind the 19th century Polish composer Frederic Chopin who wrote 23  but today, the dance is still an essential feature of individual, family, and community celebrations.

These include Polish high schools’ tradition of beginning Prom night with a formal version, rehearsed for months beforehand by pupils, teachers, and the school community.

The polonaise, dignified but joyful, can be performed by a few participants to several hundred, while its symbolic elements, like the circle and the snake, personify the  “equality, unity, and harmony” that have earned the dance its UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage status.

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Written by

Linda Hall

Originally from the UK, Linda is based in Valenca and is a reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering local news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.