Campaign launched to add Polonaise dance to UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage
A new campaign is looking to add the Polonaise dance to the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Known as “polonez” in Polish, it is a Polish stately processional dance performed by couples who walk around the dance hall.
The music is in triple metre and is often danced at the “studniówka”, the prom for graduating high school students.
The campaign was initiated by Polish dancer and choreographer Romana Agnel, founder of the Cracovia Danza Court Ballet in Kraków, the only professional court and historical dance ensemble in Poland.
Its repertoire includes many choreographies of polonaises from various eras.
Agnel said: “The polonaise is our national treasure, a living element in public space and social life.
“It is a dance of symbolic meaning – with the polonaise we enter new stages: it is danced during New Year's Eve balls, proms, and debutante balls.”
“It is a dance that expresses everything that is Polish, social behaviour, way of being, relations between a woman and a man. […] The Polonaise is our common heritage.”
The campaign will run until the end of 2023 and include events around Poland, with Kraków playing a significant role.
Katarzyna Olesiak, director of the city’s Department of Culture and National Heritage, said: “In Krakow, the polonaise is part of the social identity, so, as a city, we want to be a partner of this project and support the ballet in its efforts to add the polonaise to the UNESCO List of Intangible Cultural Heritage”.
Headquartered in Paris, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization was established in 1945 to promote world peace and security through international cooperation in these areas.
Its Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage lists cultural “practices and expressions [that] help demonstrate the diversity of this heritage and raise awareness about its importance”.
Recent additions to the list from Poland include the nativity scene (szopka) tradition in Kraków, based on skills passed down for generations, which was added to the list in 2018.