Mazowze is there and Silesia is there. Kaszëbë’nin Bytów var

Sylwia Lis

Thousands of dancing polonaises and oberex. Wedding with them. Performances in heavy clothing in the heat of 40 degrees. Bytów Song and Dance Ensemble celebrates its 75th anniversary.

Kashubyan Song and Dance Ensemble Bytów is the pride of the city. It is one of the oldest Kashubian folklore groups in Poland. It was founded in 1946 by Stanislaw Kawecki, who came to Boruju from Vilnius shortly after the war.

To dance with a hole in his leg

Hundreds of young people from Kashubia, as well as residents from different parts of the country, have joined the team during their 75-year career. Team members are like a big family. They know almost everything about themselves. This is also where they found the other half: at least a few dozen got married. As you can see, dancing brings you closer …

The team operates at the Bytów Cultural Center. Jan Stec was his manager for many years, and Joanna Jeśmontowicz was the choreographer.

“I came to Bytow in 1968 and was immediately hired by the team and, first of all, the Municipal Cultural Center,” says Jan Stec.

Before replacing Eugeniusz Kaniuka, a choreographer for many years, Joanna Jeśmontowicz performed on stage herself.

“I was 14 when I joined the group,” he says. – I danced with my future brother-in-law and it was the best dancer I trained. Those years were wonderful, but there were also many difficult situations. Once, while performing at Bytów Days in the castle, a nail hit my foot. There was blood, but the dance had to end. The show itself, especially on hot days, is also an unusual challenge, the clothes are heavy and thick. Can you imagine dancing in 40 degree heat in Turkey?

The team has some of these outfits. These are Kashubyan, Krakow and Krzczonow. – They are worth their weight in gold, – says Joanna. – We repair some of them ourselves, but the team also has a friend who is a seamstress. Joanna’s daughters Agnieszka and Magorzata have been dancing in the group for many years. You can dance and sing in their blood.

The team saved his life

Bożena Mruk is a veteran. He is the oldest member of the team in terms of age and experience.

“I’ve been taking short breaks for three pregnancies for 33 years, although when I was in my last pregnancy, 15 years ago, in the sixth month, I was in Sweden,” says Bozena. – The knee injury I have been struggling with for eight years does not bother me in my speeches. I still have a condition – the dancer smiles and jokes: – I will dance until many young people lose their strength.

You could say that the group saved his life. Ms. Bozenka suffered a heavy blow from her fate, but thanks to the team, she stood up.

– When my eldest son died 17 years ago, I did not see the meaning of life – the memory is still painful. – Then the then choreographer, the late Yevgenius Kanyuka, came to me and told me to come to the group again. Today I know that this decision was the best, the team was the best medicine for depression, to continue to enjoy life. I am very close to all of them. When someone in a group has a problem, people can offer help, support, and a solution. My son Piotrek has been in the team since 2017, I’m glad I didn’t have to convince him, he wanted to. As a member of the team, I first learned that people need to be loved, respected and understood, regardless of their identity, religion or orientation.

Bożena remembers a joke. Although not superstitious, it is difficult not to believe in fate …

– During the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the team, the famous embroidery machine from Bytov Inga Mach put on my hands a children’s quilt with a pattern of kashub. Four months later it turned out that I was pregnant and took my son for baptism in this package – the woman remembers.

The accountant cuts the money

Marcin Gross is a very colorful person in the team. She loves figures as much as Kashubyan dances. The young man works as an accountant on a daily basis. When his peers don’t leave games on their phones and listen to hip-hop, he …

– I fell in love with folk dance – the young man laughs. – They looked at me a little distrustful, a little jealous. This year will be the tenth anniversary of my joining the team. Earlier, I started at the Fidzel Complex at the School Complex in Borzytuchom, choreographed by Asia Jeśmontowicz, and found my way to the Bytów team. I am interested in the culture of Kashubia and other regions of Poland. I am more than happy that we are not limited to the Kashub language. I love the band and would do anything for them and their members. It doesn’t matter the age here, it occurred to me that I danced with the eldest girl and the youngest.

There is no problem in changing roles

– When girls disappear, boys replace them. Most of all I do! – The accountant laughs. – It is also a tradition that during the baptism of new members during the first visit, boys have to change into girls ‘clothes, and girls have to change into boys’ clothes. There are various misfortunes during the performances. On the previous anniversary of one of the dancers, her skirt fell off, so she had to finish the dance … in a dress.

For more than 75 years, the group has performed several thousand concerts in the country and abroad. He is a laureate of Gdansk, Kozalin, Choinitse, Shechin and Slupsk festivals. Participated in prestigious festivals in Europe: Frankenberg (Germany), Turin (Italy), as well as in Bulgaria (Khabarovo), Hungary, Russia (Arkhangelsk), Ukraine (Zaleszciki, Ternopil, Kremenchuk, Poltava), the Netherlands (Vert, Celno), Germany (Templin, Neubrandenburg, Waldkraiburg, Erlangen, Lusatia, Munich, Rinteln, Bremen, Hamburg), Lithuania (Jurbarsk) and Turkey (Iskenderun, Kirikhan, Arsuz, Yayadaga, Samandag, Antakya). He has repeatedly appeared on Polish and German television cameras, and has been awarded many diplomas and medals: Karvowski, Stolem and the Knight’s Cross.

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