Interview with Andrzej Buczek—Director of the Polish American Folk Dance Company
Release date: May 31, 2022
This interview with Andrzej Buczek, the Executive Director of the Polish American Folk Dance Company, is a part of the Polish and Flourish series—where we speak with inspiring individuals living in the US who are either Polish or have Polish roots. This episode is also a part of the #PolishHeritageDays May celebrations.
The Polish American Folk Dance Company was founded 80 years ago in New York City, with the goal of preserving and perpetuating Polish folk dance and song among Americans of Polish descent. Since its inception, the group has grown to proudly present the rich and diverse folk culture of Poland for audiences all over America and the world. Through the tireless dedication of generations of its directors and members, PAFDC is recognized today as one of the premier amateur Polish folk dance ensembles in North America.
The group was organized by Frances Wesołowska-Popławska in 1938, under the auspices of the Polish Workmen’s Aid Fund. The original members of the group were the young adults and children of the managing board of the PWAF, who were soon joined by new members. With assistance and support from the Kościuszko Foundation and the Polish-American Aid Fund, research was made to provide a wardrobe of traditional costumes for the company. Ms. Wesołowska-Popławska built a Polish folk dance group that combined traditional folk dances with the technique of classical ballet, a legacy that remains to this day. For 30 years she persevered, teaching not only the group’s members, but holding courses for instructors across the country.
Currently, the group is headed by Executive Director Andrzej Buczek, a long-time member, past Vice President of the Board of Directors, and founder of Kapela Ludowa. Under his leadership, the group continues to grow and evolve. By overseeing the ensemble’s training and performance schedules, and coordinating the expansion of its repertoire and wardrobe, he works to maintain PAFDC’s talents for years to come.
Today, PAFDC’s repertoire consist of multiple arrangements of all five Polish national dances, and over 25 folk dance suites from various regions of Poland. This repertoire consists of both authentic and stylized interpretations of the dances, each dynamic and unique to the region of its origin. In addition, part of the repertoire consists of presentations of ancient Polish traditions, including Dożynki (harvest festival), Andrzejki (St. Andrew’s Eve), and Jasełka (Nativity scenes).
The company owns over 600 individual costumes, many of them made in Poland using traditional methods and materials. This legacy exists due to the hard work of Mrs. Cecelia Pelc and other PAFDC mothers and volunteers, who built the costume collection from the ground up. To this day, dancers continue to lend their time and energy to assist with repairs and upkeep. The company is proud to work with multiple workshops across Poland to build the collection and ensure its authenticity and lasting beauty.
The strength of PAFDC has always stemmed from its members, who tirelessly volunteer their time to maintain the group and to share their love of dance with the public. It is this dedication that has allowed the company to grow and thrive as a cultural organization in New York City. Through 80 years of performances, workshops, demonstrations, and collaborations, the Polish American Folk Dance Company has richly contributed to the beautiful mosaic of American culture.