• May 13, 2015
  • 5

Wilia celebrates a double anniversary

For the Polish Song and Dance Ensemble “Wilia,” the current year is special. For how it could not be so as this first Polish ensemble founded in Vilnius after the World War II is celebrating its 60th anniversary. The exact date of its foundation is March 19th 1955. A gala concert has been moved to November 21st.

However, tomorrow, May 15th, many “Wilia” fans, especially from the older generation, will participate in the day of remembrance of the 100th birth anniversary of late Zofia Gulewicz, a longstanding choreograph of this ensemble, whose lessons have been handed down to the next generations. About it all we talk with an artistic director of the Polish Song and Dance Ensemble “Wilia,” Renata Brasel.

– Let’s start with tomorrow’s Remembrance Day, which will be inaugurated with a holy mass in the church of the Holy Spirit.

The idea to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of late Zofia Hulewicz on the day of her name day is not ours, but the one of the veterans’ club “Wilia,” and especially Roman Rotkiewicz, who was an initiator. After the mass, the participants will visit the burial site at the cemetery in Lipówka, they will lay wreaths and light candles. Afterwards, they will visit Kolonia Wileńska and a street named after her name, which is located on the outskirts of the district in which Mrs. Zofia spent nearly half of the century. Just as almost all of its inhabitants, she was strongly attached to it. They will also visit a home in which she lived. Speaking of the cemetery, it is worth emphasizing that every year “Wilia” members come to Zofia’s grave to light candles.

– In the week’s time (May 23rd), you are having an evening of recollections of Zofia Gulewicz…

Yes, we are really glad that these two events have weaved so harmoniously with the ensemble’s 60th anniversary. For what the ensemble is without people! And even more so when we are talking about a legend that Mrs. Zofia is, a longstanding choreograph of this year’s jubilarian, “Wilia”.

The biography of Mrs. Zofia’s deserves to be put into books, so interesting it is. Before the war, she was a ballet dancer at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw. She fell in love and got married to Arseniusz Gulewicz, a Vilnius citizen and an engineer. During the war, they escaped Warsaw before bombing and that is how Mrs. Zofia met to her husband’s parents in Kolonia Wileńska. She devoted all her heart to “Wilia”. She collaborated with the song and dance ensembles “Mazowsze” and “Śląsk,” whose repertoire she used. Up to this day “Wilia” has many songs and dance choreographies borrowed from these ensembles.

– Perhaps a few words about the upcoming evening of recollections.

I can say with all my conviction that it is going to be a really interesting and unique event. As the very name suggests, it will refer to biographical events written down by Krystyna Adamowicz, which was released on the 60th anniversary of Mrs. Zofia’s artistic activity. There will be a screening about her life’s path, and, of course, the performance by the veterans and the current lineup of the ensemble.

As I have mentioned above, it is going to be a unique event because the whole ensemble will be seated in the audience. We would like to familiarize today’s youth with the film, texts, and an exhibition which will take place in the hall of the Polish Culture House. This exhibition will not only be comprised of photographs, but also with awards, distinctions which were bestowed on Mrs. Zofia. This exhibition is also thanks to our veterans, especially Roman Rotkiewicz, who was, among others, a longstanding dancer of “Wilia.”

– There will be a period of relaxation after the event?

Yes and no. Of course, we have a few opportunities to travel, and we consider very offer very carefully, as we have to focus all our energies on the gala performance, which, as I have already mentioned, takes place on November 21st, at Vilnius’ newest event hall, Compensa, whose capacity is 2000 seats and up to 3000 standing places. There will be only our performance. We want to show how “Wilia” lived in the last 60 years, how it lives today, and with what it can fully justifiably boast.

– This 60-year history (as well as the years prior to the foundation of the ensemble) will be put into a book, which is currently being prepared by a journalist and a longstanding member of “Wilia,” Krystyna Adamowicz.

Yes, I am very happy with it. This idea had been haunting me for a long time. For it is how life is – many veterans have already passed away. People who not only participated in this oldest Polish ensemble in Lithuania, but also contributed to the rebirth and preservation of the Polish identity here, the language, culture, faith. The book will be called “Strumieni rodzica” (en. “Mother of Our Streams”), and it is very meaningful, since our ensemble is like a river not only in its name. Its current constantly draws new members who enrich these “wilia waters” (the ensemble’s name Wilia is a Polish equivalent of Nemris, a river in Lithuania).

– But, of course, “everything requires money”…

Of course. We are very glad with any help. We have many friends who help us also this time. It is the Polish Culture House in Vilnius, “Ardena” and “Sofina” companies. Every even the smallest help is welcome, as unfortunately everything in life costs…

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