Redford, MI – The Wieliczka Dance Ensemble, originally known as the Westside Dancers, was founded in the fall of 1955 by dedicated PRCUA leaders Maria Siwula, Joseph A. Drobot, Sr., and Shirley Hojnacki Galanty. As the first PRCUA dance school in Michigan, the mission of the school was to instill in our youth pride and knowledge of our Polish heritage, together with its many beautiful customs and traditions. Sixty years later, that mission remains steady and was evident by the number of family, friends, and PRCUA dignitaries who were in attendance.
Wieliczka Dance Ensemble’s 60th Anniversary Recital was held on April 30 in Redford, MI. The afternoon started with Kristi Mihalic, School Director, introducing the PRCUA dignitaries in attendance: National President Joseph Drobot Jr. and his wife, Judy; National Directors of District #10 Thomas Lisieski and Collen Bonkowski; Assistant Director of Marketing and Sales Ted Klamerus and his wife, Sally; Sw. Jadwiga Society #1552 Vice President Laurie Macek-Carver; and St. John the Baptist Society #87 Trustees Dorothy Ford and Joseph Mihalic. Also in attendance from the PNA were Michigan State Commissioner Tom Schemanski and Region E Fraternal
Director Stella Sczezny. Joelle Sanders started the program by leading the Ensemble and guests in the singing of the American and Polish National Anthems. Alumni Janet Kozakiewicz, Mary Skirnit, Theresa Staples, Brittany Broda, Melissa Dunn, and Alex Zelek started the dance performances with a beautiful Polonez. They later performed the Krakowiak and also danced in the Finale Polka.
Group Four dancers Taylor Gessner, Anna Napiewocki, Joelle Sanders, Alicia Sulkowski, Kristin Mihalic, Lena Zielke, Michael Mihalic, and Sophie Zelek performed a Polonez, a Lubelski Suit, a dance from the Spisz region, the Polka Warszawska, a Krakowiak and the Finale Polka. All dances were beautifully choreographed by Wspolnota Polska Choreography School graduate Tommy Schemanski. Group Three dancers Breanna Kinsey, Ellie Gessner, Prayer Drane-Kozakiewicz, Shawn Kinsey, Carter Zielke, Emily Zielke, Dianna Johnson, and Krysta Logie performed a Kaszuby Suite, a Beskid Suite, the Zywiec and the Finale Polka, also choreographed by Tommy Schemanski.
Wspolnota Polska Choreography School graduate Kasia Schemanski, beautifully choreographed Group Two dancers Lillia Zelek, Vanessa Kinsey, Darien Drane-Kozakiewicz, Lily Newvine, Joe Sanders Jr. and Olivia Drane-Kozakiewicz. Group Two performed a dance from the Kurpie region, a dance from the Cieszyn region, a Polka and the Finale Polka. Siblings Kasia Schemanski and Tommy Schemanski have been the choreography team for the Wieliczka Dance Ensemble for the past six years. They choreographed and flawlessly performed an Opoczno Duet.
Congratulatory remarks were given by PRCUA National Directors Thomas Lisiecki, Collen Bonkowski, and PNA Region E Fraternal Director Stella Szczesny. PRCUA National Vice President Micheline Jaminski also offered congratulations and best wishes in a letter to the Dance Ensemble. The recital culminated with an awards presentation in which President Drobot congratulated the Wieliczka Dance Ensemble on 60 years of a job well done. He personally recalled memories of Maria Siwula, commenting on her strong leadership skills; his father, Joe Drobot, Sr., and how he always held the PRCUA close to his heart; and Past National Director Shirley Ann Galanty – the wonderful, enthusiastic, and dedicated individual who we affectionately remember as “Mrs. G.” Mr. Drobot paid tribute to these founders and to all the hard working volunteers, directors, choreographers, and dancers who have followed in their footsteps. On behalf of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America, he presented the Wieliczka Dance Ensemble with a plaque in recognition of the 60th Anniversary, which was accepted by Dance School Director Kristi Mihalic. The afternoon ended with a delicious dinner and a great time was had by all.