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'Good enough for the Pope'

Polish Dance Ensemble Iskry to perform at Concert Hall

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PART of David Moszkiewicz's job as special events co-ordinator for the Polish Dance Ensemble Iskry is to pitch the group's Centennial Concert Hall performance on May 20.

Although there are plenty of positive elements to the group that Moszkiewicz can focus on to persuade people to not miss out on the performance, one wonders if he isn't tempted to just say, 'Hey, if it's good enough for the Pope...' (The group had a private audience with Pope John Paul II at the Vatican in 1999.)

Instead, Moszkiewicz, who also dances in the group, focuses on what he feels is one of Iskry's greatest strengths, which is its ability to push the boundaries.

"Unlike many other Polish groups, we like to think outside the box," says Moszkiewicz, 21.

Specifically, he talks about how the group adopts dance and song elements that have developed from regions outside of the areas of Poland that are more traditionally associated with Polish folk dance.

"We like to explore other stuff and that makes us kind of unique," he says.

Tomorrow night's performance, entitled Journey to Our Roots, is the first performance for the 40-member Iskry since 2002 and will include both old favourites and new pieces from their growing repertoire.

"It's very lively and energetic, and the costumes are very vibrant," says Moszkiewicz. "In fact, our costumes are another interesting part about us. We have a very large wardrobe."

Although the Centennial Concert Hall is a large venue, Moszkiewicz says he is confident the group can put people in the seats. The show will also include a performance by the Hungarian Kapisztran Folk Dance Ensemble, another local dance group.

"We've done it before," he says of a previous concert. "We sold just under 1,200 tickets."

The group is hoping to repeat those numbers this time around, and Moszkiewicz says getting people out starts with word of mouth.

"The Polish community is very tight-knit. Once a few people hear about the show, everybody knows," laughs Moszkiewicz.

Iskry was founded in 1967 and has travelled extensively across Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Aside from getting to meet the Pope, other highlights in their history includes participating in the International Polish Folk Dance Festival in Rzeszow, Poland in 1993, 1996, 1999, and 2002. At the 2002 festival, Iskry was up against 33 other Polish dance ensembles from around the world. They placed first and were named Best Amateur Polish Folk Dance Group in the world.

Andrea Piotrowski, another Iskry dancer, says the group also received a lesser-known honour at the event.

"Our group was also unofficially named the most fun and friendliest group at the festival by other groups and locals," she says.

Journey to Our Roots starts at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available from Ticketmaster at 780-3333. For more information on Iskry, visit their website at www.iskry.com.

PHOTO MIKE DEAL/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 19, 2004 $sourceSection$sourcePage

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