Ball in Rogalin
Ball in Rogalin – or Polish national dances: polonaise, mazurka and „drabant” (elements of both polonaise and mazurka) danced in a performance called „Sleigh Rides („kulig”) – or the Polish Carnival” showing how Polish noblemen enjoyed themselves during the carnival period. The sleigh ride was known as early as the 16th century and survived until the end of the 19th century. Carnival parties were thrown from Christmas until Ash Wednesday and they were more frequent in the last week of the carnival. The most popular and best organized sleigh rides were among middle-class noblemen in the mid-19th century, who had a good time with their neighbours. The whole event was carefully planned and had a detailed itinerary. A couple of weeks before its start, the sequence of visited houses was specified, depending on a situation and the wealth of the pantry. Clothes were sown, speeches prepared, roles appointed: the „kulig´s” master, both male and female, as well as an organist, both male and female, a newly-wed couple, bridesmaids and bridegrooms, and others, so that a wedding could be acted out. Apart from other characters, e.g. a Jew, a „turoń”, a wolf, a herald, a harlequin with a black mask on his face, everybody put on an obligatory robe, and the master put on „żupan” (traditional dress of Polish noblemen). Hosts put on robes, too, to receive the „kulig”.
When Harlequin approached the first manor house in his sleigh, he announced by shouting or by a piece of paper that the „kulig” was approaching it too, and the rest prepared the ride. Girls and elderly people got on their sleighs with a head of a swan, a black man or a bear at their fronts. The horses were decorated with bows and bells. Young men with torches rode their horses. Through the open gate they all went in front of the manor house. The master delivered a welcoming speech, and the host welcomed all the guests and invited them to come back next time. Dancing polonaise, they all moved to the ball room. The y were led by the host and the female master, and the master with the hostess. Next, mazurka was danced by young people, and the elderly went to other rooms to play games or just watched the young dancers. All the dances were started by leaders. Only Polish dances were danced: polonaise, mazurka, the pecker dance (the Krakowiak), „drabant”, the oberek (in the region of Mazowsze). Meanwhile toasts were raised and greetings exchanged. In the middle of the party, participants marched to dinner, after which singing and dancing commenced. The party could go on for a couple of days depending on how wealthy the host was. It was finished off with „drabant” and a bugle call or a call from Harlequin. Accompanied by music all participants moved to another manor house.
Our performance lasts about 20 minutes.