The Polish Folkloric Ensemble Syrenka grew from a Folkloric Dance Group formed in 1968, and established in 1971. Including its major debut at the National Shell Folkloric Festival for the Opening of the Sydney Opera House in 1973, the Ensemble has performed for most Shell Folkloric Festivals, at all PolArt festivals in Australia since their beginning in 1975, and has travelled throughout Australia to perform at various concerts, displays and exhibitions. The ensemble gives approximately 25 performances per year. The Ensemble has taken part in many competitions throughout NSW and has always gained a place. Year round fundraising, donations and such prize money has enabled the purchase of the group's extensive range of authentic costumes from Poland. Each dance comes from a different region of Poland, and hence the variety of costumes, though most are bright and colourful and beautiful to look at.
Syrenka's style of dance is fun - beautiful costumes, singing, acrobatics and unique traditional choreographies which tell a story the audience can enjoy - though often with unexpected surprises and outcomes!
The Ensemble's Artistic Director for the Senior and Intermediate groups, Iwona Kower, is a former Syrenka dancer, graduate of the Laban Centre for Movement and Dance in London, holder of a diploma in Polish Folkloric Dance & Song for Choreographers & Instructors from the University of Marie-Curie Sklodowska in Lublin and possessor of extensive experience in arts management, while the Artistic Director of the Junior group, Halina Borysiewicz, also danced with 'Syrenka' and has been teaching our youngest how to have fun on stage for years. The Music Director, Jerzy Scislowski, composes music and draws on decades of study, performance and teaching to ensure the group sounds as good as it looks. The group’s current elected President is Filip Kidon, a veteran dancer with Syrenka. A number of Syrenka’s senior dancers have been trained by Poland’s State Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Mazowsze”. The ensemble's senior group still counts amongst its repertoire dances choreographed for the group by previous Artistic Directors, including Wieslawa & Mark Voynich, former pricipal soloists with Polish National Song and Dance Ensemble "Śląsk", as well as the late and dearly missed Stanislaw Paduchowski, former principal soloist with Mazowsze.
The aim of the ensemble is to promote Polish culture in Australia to the Australian and Polish communities, and educate the general public about the Polish culture and the Polish community in Australia. Our objectives include not only the promotion of Polish culture, but to educate the youth which join our ensemble about Polish culture and encourage them to be proud of their heritage and continue with Polish traditions and the Polish language. We feel that the best way to teach this to the youth is in a fun and social environment through the ensemble and its teachings of Polish songs and dances.
The Polish Folkloric Ensemble Syrenka is an incorporated non-profit charitable organisation. Strict financial records are kept and audited on an annual basis, and together with our Constitution, membership quota and monthly committee meetings (whose minutes are also audited and registered with our Financial records with the Department of Fair Trading), fulfill all legal and moral obligations. The committee is elected at Syrenka's Annual General Meeting.
Syrenka consists of three different aged groups (juniors are 6-10 years of age, intermediates 11-16 years of age and the senior group has ages 17-30 years), and currently has over 100 members. We rehearse at the Polish Club in Ashfield for four (4) hours per week, more frequently for major events.
In 1999, the senior group attended and performed in a world-wide festival in Europe which was televised throughout Europe and America, where the group not only performed traditional Polish dances but represented Australian culture by performing contemporary Aboriginal dance, choreographed by renowned Aboriginal choreographer, Matthew Doyle. It is only the second time in the festival's thirty (30) year history that an Australian group attended, and we were highly acclaimed, featuring on the front pages of many newspapers and giving many television interviews.
In 2002, the senior group once again attended and performed in the international festival of Polish folkloric dance at Rzeszow. This time, Syrenka attended as an independent entity, having built the group's membership and repertoire such that it could finance it's own trip by a fundraising effort above and beyond any prior precedent. As previously in 1999, the event was a fantastic success. This time, Syrenka's performance of their trademark "Szalony Folklor" was the highlight of one of the largest open-air concerts, even being singled out in the city's leading newspaper. Two of Syrenka's senior performers were among the three solo vocalists leading the Gala concert's closing act.
In 2008 Syrenka celebrated its 40th anniversary with a sold out formal ball catering to over 500 guests and 100 performers.
In December 2009 through January 2010, 'Syrenka' performed in PolArt 2009, a three-yearly Festival of Polish Arts and Culture, featuring the works of Polish artists across Australia and New Zealand, held in Adelaide this time. Syrenka performed in the festival's concerts, featuring both trademark dances of the group as well as new and exciting choreography prepared for the event.
Syrenka has also recently participated in numerous local and regional festivals including the World Culture & Arts Festival at the Sydney Town Hall, Canberra Floriade and the 2011 National Multicultural Festival in Canberra.
At the end of 2012, Syrenka plans to travel to Perth to perform at the next Pol-Art festival!