Saturday, November 24, 2007


Last week I went to see Mazowsze at the Music Hall in Detroit. I mentioned this dance group from Poland in a previous post, and even included a video. But there's no substitute for seeing them live. They were awesome!

The costumes were beautiful. Even though the country of Poland is only about the size of the state of New Mexico it has many different cultural districts (I've heard anywhere from 12 to 23) within it and each district has their own style of folk dress. I have sketches of 17 different styles of dress on my web site. I've seen plenty of photos of Polish folk costumes and many dolls dressed in folk dress as well. I've even seen other Polish dance groups. But none of them compare to the myriad of folk dresses seen in this show.

I lost track of the costume changes but I'm sure it must have been somewhere north of 50 different regional dress styles. And they were all lovely. I only remember one "plain country maiden" style. The rest were definitely special occasion festive folk dress. And all distinctly different! The only thing they virtually all had in common was bold, bright colors and red coral beads.

The dancing was wonderful and varied. It included everything from the waltz to the oberek, a May-Pole number, and one with what looked like a Christmas tree. Most of them were lively, some would be best described as high energy, and few could only be described as extreme. Mazowsze is to Poland what Riverdance is to Ireland... a showcase of the history, traditions, and culture of the country set to dance.

I have some photos to share with you because the theater management was kind enough to allow non-flash photography. And I was fortunate enough to have third-row seats just left of center stage. Shooting fast-action photos without a flash is very difficult to accomplish without getting a tremendous amount of motion blur. I was using my point-and-shoot camera (Canon PowerShot SD600) which doesn't have anywhere near the capability of my big boy, the Canon Rebel XTi. However, it has the advantage of fitting in my coin purse to be carried virtually anywhere. I am constantly amazed at the quality of pictures this little camera gives me. And it did a heck of a job for me at Mazowsze.

I have to take a moment here to share a little incident that happened to me when shooting these photos. I was extremely very careful to make sure that my camera didn't flash when I was taking my photos. The gentleman who was sitting one row behind me and two seats to the right made no such effort. He flashed away throughout the entire first half of the show. During the intermission, a member of the theater management came over and scolded him and warned him not to do it again. He assured the manager that he wouldn't. No sooner did the second half start and this guy starts shooting flash pictures again. I just ignored him. He wasn't bothering me anyway. I was totally focused on the dancing on stage and my own photography endeavors. Which was why I was totally caught of guard when another guy sitting two rows back and two seats to my left stood up and whacked me over the head with a rolled up program shouting, "Stop that! You stop doing that!". Then he proceeded to give me a couple more whacks before sitting back down in his seat. Mind you, I hadn't flashed even once! I turned around and said, "I'm not flashing!" and was terribly embarrassed at being the target of his outburst. Naturally everyone around me turned and stared at me like I was a turd or something. It was very upsetting even though I knew I was in the right. I'm sure this guy mistook me for the other guy behind me who'd been flashing all through the show. But geez, what bad manners!

(I stopped going to movie theaters years ago because I'm a magnet that attracts the bad mannered people who talk all through the movie. I thought I was safe at other cultural events but this has me rethinking that. Yeesh!)

But let me get back to Mazowsze. I really don't want to leave you with that nasty little incident in mind. The show was fabulous and that's what I want you to remember from this post. If you get the chance to see it, I highly recommend it. You won't be sorry you did! Now check out just a few of the many wonderful photos I was able to get.