The Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Częstochowa” is a unique event in the cultural life of the city, after which it is called, and to which it has been consistently winning supporters for since 1978. Many of them became familiar with the Ensemble as the host of the folk groups review, which is organized each year as a part of the Days of European Folk Culture. Within many folk groups from Poland and Europe, “Częstochowa” presents programmes that are fully mature. They offer not only high artistic values, but also rouse the audience with their colourfulness, dynamic and breadth.
However, the way to this maturity and artistic level was long and complicated. The group was first called Międzyzakładowy Zespół Pieśni i Tańca Włókniarzy “Częstochowa” /The Intercompany Song and Dance Ensemble Włókniarz “Częstochowa”/, and its office was at the Plants of the Linen Industry “Warta”. It was a type of reference to tradition, as a similar folk group existed at those plants in the 50’s, and was established and run by a famous musician and pedagogue from Częstochowa named Edward Mąkosza. A new group was created during the period of increasing political and social crisis that led to a turning point and a historic August. How it was possible to hold the group together and create conditions for artistic development during a period of various historical turbulences will probably remain a secret. The mentioned development was possible at a wider range just from the beginnings of the 90’s of the 20th century. It was likely possible thanks to those people connected with the group including: the training staff, organizing staff, and what is the most important, the young people bitten by the bug of folk music and folk dance.
We have to remember that the motivation for participation in the activity of the Ensemble, which demands much effort and sacrifice, were not trips abroad. During the first twelve years of its existence, the Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Częstochowa” visited the Bulgarian Pernik only twice as a part of the cooperation of that time involved party authorities of both regions.
The artistic and organizing staff of the group was mentioned above. Many important and well-known people for the culture of Częstochowa cooperated with the group within the past almost forty years. Ewa Piernik, Jadwiga Opala-Spisak, Tadeusz Gorzelak, Czesław Płaczek and Marek Koper – these are the names of choreographers and musicians connected with the group during the first years of its activity. The organizing part for “Częstochowa” was in the hands of Bożena Pęciak and Stanisław Nocuń. At the beginning of 1982, the group was taken over by the Province Community Centre in Częstochowa, however the Plants of the Linen Industry “Warta” were still renting out rooms for rehearsals and costume storage. In 1988, the group, which was still under the patronage of the Province Community Centre, was taken under the wings of Powszechna Wytwórcza Spółdzielnia Spożywców “Społem” (Popular Productive Grocers Cooperative “Społem”) in Częstochowa for the period of 2 years. During the years of 1989-1995, a Military Secondary School was helping the group to ensure not only the room, but also people willing to dance in the group. In 1992 The Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Częstochowa” officially started to work under the auspices of the Centre of Culture Promotion “Gaude Mater” and it has been this way till today.
The 80’s were not in favour of the development of artistic activity. Nonetheless, the Ensemble with whom the following people cooperated at that time: Ewa Mrzygłód, Marek Koper, Michał Jarczyk, Teresa Woźniak, Jan Kubica, Bolesław Ocias and Marek Gołdy, performed almost 100 concerts in Poland. The group had over 100 members in 1988 when it celebrated its 10th anniversary. Next years brought a significant change in the form of the group’s activity. The number of its members decreased to 40 people, and new methods of work, such as training camps, were adopted. Alicja Zielińska was the artistic manager at that time, and the following people cooperated with her: Renata Surowiec and Marek Gołdy, and later Sandro Barbosa, Paulo Szot and Grzegorz Papalski. Since 1996 Jarosław Świątek, full of energy and artistic ideas and supported by Teresa Turek and Michał Knaś, has been in charge of the artistic part of the Ensemble. Danuta Morawska has been the organizing manager of the group for almost 30 years, and she has devoted lots of enthusiasm and energy to this job. The mentioned changes resulted in the rapid progress and dynamic growth of the group, which performed in many European countries and also visited other continents. The Ensemble, as the first Polish amateur folk group, performed in China and took part in the World Folk Festival in Caçapava do Sul in Brasil. “Częstochowa“ enjoyed and continues to enjoy popularity and recognition within the country, and has received numerous invitations. The 20th anniversary concert received “The Event of the Year“ award, which is given by readers of Częstochowa’s edition of “Gazeta Wyborcza“ daily. The same award was given to the music and dance spectacle “Carmina Burana” of Carl Orff, which was performer together with the Częstochowa Philharmonic Hall. Within numerous artistic undertakings those who are worth mentioning are: participation in preparation, together with artists of the Great Theatre of Łódź, of two operas of Stanisław Moniuszko – „Straszny Dwór“ /“Haunted Manor“/ and „Halka“ /“Halka“/, and adaptation of „Krakowiacy i górale“ /“The Cracovians and Highlanders“/ of Wojciech Bogusławski in Częstochowa. Outdoor spectacles of ritual kind called „Wesele częstochowskie“ /“Wedding of Czestochowa“/ and „Noc Świętojańska“ /“Midsummer’s Night“/ were also a very interesting and stunning initiative. Participation in such important undertakings confirmed the high artistic level of the group, whose activity is growing over the course of years. Currently there are 80 members in “Częstochowa”, who work in three age groups. The group performs within the country and abroad, and gives about 30 concerts each year representing the city and the province at numerous folk reviews and festivals.