Dancing Through the Summer

18 July 2022

This summer, locals and visitors spend their holidays with dance and spectacles of myriad genres, styles and conventions.

The “Cracovia Danza” Courtly Dance Festival kicks off on 16 July; it runs until the end of the month, with the week-long Kraków Dance Festival taking over the baton on 1 August. Plenty for all fans of dance, both historical and contemporary!

History and modernity

The “Cracovia Danza” Courtly Dance Festival is held for the 23rd time. As usual, it will be an opportunity to explore local, national and international dance heritage. The event is organised by the Cracovia Danza Ballet – Poland’s only ensemble specialising in historic dances. The festival serves as a bridge between the past and the present. The spectacles combine a detailed analysis of sources and archive material with incredible technique, bringing history to life. This year’s leading motif is comedy.

The Kraków Dance Festival is held for the second time, but the event has a much longer history. It arose from the coming together of three projects developed by the Kraków Choreography Centre at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre. The choreography competition 3…2…1…DANCE! presented solo, duos and trios awarded by a jury and the public. The BaletOFFFestival featured artistic residences at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre, with the effects presented to the public. Finally, the SPACER Contemporary Dance Festival presented the latest achievements in choreography. Bringing the three events into one has helped focus production and promotional efforts, placing the new festival firmly on Kraków’s cultural map and allowing it to have a more extensive programme. In 2020, festival plans were thwarted by the pandemic, but the following year the organisers were able to host an event under the banner Seeing Dance. This year’s motto is Here and Now Until Eternity.

From the polonaise to tai chi

It might seem that the only connection between the history-focused Courtly Dance Festival and the contemporary choreographies of the Kraków Dance Festival is the summer holidays, but the similarities run deeper. Both festivals make a powerful mark in the city space. Performances by the Royal Courtly Ballet will be held outdoors, at the stage in front of Galeria Krakowska and at the Main Market Square. The dancers also present three short forms as a continuation of the cycle “Kraków Painted with Dance”, initiated last year. Spectacles recalling the locations where they are shown will appear by the Krzysztofory Palace, at the courtyard of the Czartoryski Museum and at Wawel. Although performances of the Kraków Dance Festival are held indoor at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre, there will be daily outdoor exercise sessions inspired by the art of tai chi.

Both festivals also aim to engage audiences in other ways. A traditional custom of the Courtly Dance Festival is a public polonaise at the Main Market Square. It will be led by artists from Cracovia Danza clad in beautiful period costume, encouraging all passers-by to join the procession. The Kraków Choreography Centre also hosts a public dance. The Kraków Dance Festival presents the Visual Ambient Jam Session, combining music with a photographic performance by Klaudyna Shubert. Another fascinating event will be workshops on writing about dance, ran by the critic and theorist Hanna Raszewska, open to all; the participants will have the opportunity to watch all festival spectacles.

Dance journey

The two festivals aim to reach regions distant in time and location. During the Courtly Dance Festival, Cracovia Danza presents Chess inspired by a poem by Jan Kochanowski, Renaissance dances, a pantomime and a performance Monsieur Molière Would Like to Ask You to Dance as part of the global celebrations of Year of Molière, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the dramatist’s birth. A special guest of the festival will be Pierre-François Dollé, the French choreographer and dancer specialising in historic dance.

We will also see guests from abroad at the Kraków Dance Festival. The Czech collective Pocketart presents The Lion’s Den, while the Anton Lachky Company from Slovakia brings Others. The latter is written for the whole family, although it will mainly appeal to adults. The festival abounds with Polish artists and choreographers, including masters such as Ramona Nagabczyńska, Barbara Bujakowska and Wojciech Klimczyk. Some spectacles will be shown for the first time. One of the premieres is the presentation of the results of an artistic residence continuing the traditions of the former BaletOFFFestival.

Poles apart

History or modernity? Looking to the past or to infinity? Polonaise or a free dance to ambient music? Fans of theatre will see performances from the whole spectrum of the art of dance, and the acclaimed brands of the Courtly Dance Festival and the Kraków Dance Festival guarantee masterful performances. In fact there is no need to choose – let’s see what happens when we let tradition to flow smoothly into modernity!


Katarzyna Waligóra – theatre critic, educator and scholar. She works at the Academy of Theatre in Warsaw and collaborates with the Faculty of Theatre and Drama of the Jagiellonian University. She writes about theatre and dance for magazines such as “Taniec Polski”, “Dwutygodnik”, “Teatr” and “Dialog”. Most recently she co-edited a book with Monika Kwaśniewska, published by the Jagiellonian University in 2021.

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