Polish dance troupe in Manchester asks for new dancers to keep the culture alive

Video report by ITV Granada Reports journalist Claire Hannah.

One of the UK's longest standing Polish folk dance groups is appealing for new members after seeing a sharp decline.

Polonez Manchester has been going for 73 years and has a long history, which even includes performing at events to mark the Queen's coronation.

Based in Moss Side, the troupe performs at events all over the country, and around the world.

Polonez Manchester is based in Moss Side Credit: Facebook - Polonez Manchester

In the 1950s, it boasted around 40 members but now only has around 25 dancers at its weekly sessions, almost a 40% drop in numbers despite Manchester's Polish population burgeoning since the country joined the EU in 2004.

Asia Cullinan, artistic director at Polonez, said: "It's inevitable, you get to the teenage years and it becomes 'uncool' - and Covid really hit us too.

"We had quite a few 14, 15 and 16-year-olds dancing but the pandemic took that away from us because a lot of them stopped coming and got out of the habit".

Podilya committee member Kasia Jasicka said: "Our members are a mix of Polish expats, children and grandchildren of Polish nationals, people of Polish heritage who were born in the UK, and those who have married into Polish families.

"Polish folklore and culture are so vibrant, colourful and welcoming so we'd invite anyone who is interested in joining, to come and see.

"You don't need to be from a Polish background, and you don't need any dance training.

"All our dancers are very supportive and will have you spinning, kicking and dancing to traditional Polish music in no time!"

An influx of younger children have joined the group recently, which Polonez hope will stay with them after they go through into their teenage years.

Manchester Polonez says you don't have to be Polish to get involved Credit: Polonez Manchester

These children said they enjoy the sessions because they are with their friends, but also said it is important to keep Polish culture alive.

Polonez is currently rehearsing for performances and workshops at Góbéfest, the UK's only free weekend-long festival to celebrate the region of Transylvania and the Carpathian Basin.

It takes place in Manchester's Cathedral Gardens and Exchange Square on the weekend of the 24-26 June.

The group will be performing on Sunday 26 June, which has been designated "Dance Day".

Who are Polonez Manchester?

Polonez Manchester was founded by a group of Polish expats, including Waclaw Kolekowski, who were unable to return to Poland after WWII due to the communist regime.

The group's founders were keen to keep alive the culture and traditions of their homeland through sharing song and dance with fellow Poles and the wider Greater Manchester communities.

The group's extensive wardrobe features over 400 brightly coloured traditional costumes from different regions of Poland.

The group's wardrobe consists of hundreds of traditional costumes from different regions of Poland. Credit: Polonez Manchester

In 1953, Polonez performed at a series of events to mark the Queen's coronation, including at the Free Trade Hall and in Alexander Park in Whalley Range. In the same decade, the group appeared at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Polonez meets on Wednesdays at 7.30pm at Polish RC Church of Divine Mercy, on Lloyd Street North in Moss Side. They can be contacted here.

On Sunday 26 June, the group is running a Polish dance class from 12-1pm and is performing on the main stage at 2.30pm at Góbéfest in Cathedral Gardens.

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