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Polka

De Hub'n Bub'n hebben veel polka's in hun repertoire. Het accent van hun polka's ligt in de Oostenrijkse, Duitse, Sloveense ect. stijl van deze muzieksoort.
Toch heeft de polka zich verspreid over de hele wereld in al zijn vormen en tempo's.
Hier een kleine uitleg:
 
Opbouw
Een polka is een volksdans in tweekwartsmaat met een zwaar accent op de eerste tel. In de snelle varianten wordt die maat in vieren gedeeld, met een zwaar accent op de eerste van die vier snelle tellen en een nevenaccent op de derde. De eenvoudigste vorm bestaat uit twee delen. Elk deel bestaat uit twee muzikale zinnen van vier maten: een "vragende" en een "antwoordende" zin. De meeste maten van de zinnen zijn gelijk, alleen de laatste maat of twee maten zijn iets verschillend. Elk deel wordt herhaald en vervolgens wordt het geheel nog eens herhaald. Dit is de eenvoudigste vorm. Deze vorm heeft een laag tempo. Uitgerekend in Nederland werd deze vorm vroeger gedanst en ook nu nog gebeurt dat in afnemende mate op het platteland bij jaarlijkse dorpskermissen.
 
Volksdans
Naast deze eenvoudigste vorm bestaan er natuurlijk veel gecompliceerder vormen, met meer dan twee thema's van acht, zestien of meer maten. Er zijn zeer veel variaties in de dans, zowel kringdansen als parendansen. Er zijn zelfs polkamelodieën met een eigen dans, zoals de Duitse polka "Bummel Petrus". Voor het geval u die titel niets zegt: bent u acht jaar of ouder, dan is de kans groot dat u hem kent!
 
Stijlkenmerken
De stijlkenmerken komen bij alle soorten polka's tot op zekere hoogte overeen. Deze laten zich moeilijk beschrijven en moeten natuurlijk beluisterd worden. Algemene kenmerken zijn: sterk trocheïsch (accent op het eerste maatdeel), veel herhalingen, veel ritmische figuren als opmaatjes, triolen en arpeggio's (snelle loopjes). De muziek is onmiddelijk te herkennen als dansmuziek, als volksdansmuziek. Zeker de snelle vormen zijn zeer vrolijk, feestelijk, juichend. Het is muziek waarbij je je voeten niet stil kunt houden.
 
Tempo
De polka heeft geen vast tempo. Er zijn heel langzame vormen en razendsnelle vormen. Het meest voorkomende tempo is MM 120, dat wil zeggen twee tellen per seconde.
 
Bezetting
Er zijn geen beperkingen aan de instrumentale bezetting van polkamuziek. Toen de polka nog een "salon"-dans was, werd deze uitgevoerd door een "strijkje". Maar ook grote symfonieorkesten spelen polka's, denk maar aan de Weense muziek van Strauss en Lanner e.a. En natuurlijk zijn er de grote Duitse "hoempa"-blaasorkesten.

De echte volksdansmuziek wordt gedomineerd door het accordeon. Zowel in de Europese als in de Amerikaanse varianten speelt dit instrument de hoofdrol. Verder zijn er vaak blaasinstrumenten in de polkabands: klarinetten, saxofoons, trompetten. In de Cleveland Style,  is het gebruik van blaasinstrumenten beperkt. Men hoort wel vrij vaak één saxofoon of één klarinet. Veel bands gebruiken in plaats daarvan een orgel, in navolging van de "solovox" van de bekende Frank Yankovic. (De solovox was een klein draagbaar orgel.)

Nog iets over de stemming van het accordeon. In Europes stijlen wordt de zwevende stemming van het accordeon het meest gebruikt. Dit is een zeer karakteristiek accordeongeluid, dat de meeste mensen onmiddellijk herkennen. Deze stemming wordt ook wel "musette-stemming" of "natte stemming" genoemd. Hierbij bestaat één accordeontoon in feite uit twee of drie, iets afwijkend gestemde tonen. In Amerikaanse stijlen wordt meestal de "droge stemming" of "strakke stemming" gebruikt. Hierbij bestaat één accordeontoon ook werkelijk uit een enkele toon, of uit twee gelijkgestemde tonen. Deze accordeonstemming wordt ook gebruikt in jazz en tangomuziek. De reden dat die droge stemming zo prevaleert in Amerika kan liggen in het feit dat immigranten zich vroeger geen accordeon met zwevende stemming konden veroorloven. Als die er al waren, waren ze zeer prijzig. Hoewel dit argument nu wel niet meer zal gelden, is dit misschien wel de verklaring voor het veelvuldig gebruik van deze stemming.

De basis van de instrumentale bezetting, de ritmesectie kan in het algemeen ook bestaan uit alle daarvoor geëigende instrumenten. In de Cleveland Style wordt de ritmesectie gevormd door pizzicato gespeelde contrabas of basgitaar, drums en vaak piano, zeker in de oudere muziek. Maar wat heel kenmerkend is in dit genre is de BANJO. Deze klept er vrolijk op los, met accoorden of met op losse snaren gespeelde loopjes. Deze geeft de stijl iets volkomen eigens, vrolijks en een swing, die soms een beetje aan Dixieland doet denken. De "good old banjo" is een zeer gewaardeerd en effectvol instrument in de Cleveland Style. 
 
Lyrics
Tot zover de instrumentale bezetting. Bij veel polka's wordt gezongen. In de Verenigde Staten worden de teksten nog in de oorspronkelijke talen gezongen, zoals Pools, Tsjechisch en Sloveens. In de jaren veertig begon de Sloveen Frank Yankovic als eerste met Engelstalige teksten om de polka een breder publiek te geven, wat zeer is geslaagd! Tegenwoordig wordt er naast de oorspronkelijke talen ook veel gebruik gemaakt van het Engels.

De inhoud van de teksten is vrolijk en oppervlakkig. Hier geen ellende van verloren liefdes en dergelijke. In deze teksten wordt vrijwel alleen maar het geluk bezongen. Het gaat over liefde, dansen en drinken. Bij de liefdesteksten gaat alles goed en alles loopt goed af. Geen overspel, bedrog en verlatingen, integendeel. En in uitzonderingsgevallen dat die er wel zijn, dan worden die vrolijk gevierd. Het leven is hier een roze dans in een ruimte en tijd waarin geen narigheid en ellende past. De polka is alleen vrolijk!
 
 
Kruispolka
Wie vond de Polka uit? Er zijn verschillende antwoorden op deze vraag gegeven. Sommige houden in dat het de uitvinding was van een Boheemse edelman, anderen zeggen dat het werd ontworpen door een Pools boerenmeisje. In ieder geval staat vast dat de Polka werd gedanst door de bevolking van Hongarije en Polen, lang voordat het de salons van Parijs bereikte.

Volgens nog een andere lezing ontstond de Polka als volgt: Op een Zondagmiddag in het jaar 1830 was een boerenmeisje, Anna Slezak, in een vrolijke bui. Zij zong en danste naar eigen ingeving op een feestelijke bijeenkomst te Eberskosteletc in Bohemen. Haar dans trok zeer de aandacht. De aanwezige schoolmeester, Joseph Neruda, tekende de melodie en de dans op en zo was de Polka geboren.

De Polka werd gentroduceerd in Praag in 1835 (of volgens een andere lezing in 1839). In 1841 (of 1840) werd het geïntroduceerd op het Parijse toneel. Maar het was toch niet vóór de winter van 1843-1844, dat de Polka in de mode kwam (Echter, volgens en andere lezing was het in 1840 al een rage ...). De naam Polka betekent "half-stap" en een van de aanwijzingen was: "til eerst het rechter been op, sla daarna twee keer tegen linker hiel met de rechter hiel, en draai dan als in de wals". Was het vanwege deze pas dat enthousiastelingen leden aan de Polka-ziekte, waarbij de beginneling pijn voelde aan de linker zijde van de rechtervoet?

De Kruispolka is een variatie op de polka, waarbij polkapassen zijwaarts heen en weer worden uitgevoerd, gevolgd door polkapassen ronddraaiend.
Ongeveer in het jaar 1885 werd deze dans populair en vermoedelijk het eerst gedanst in Oost-Pruisen op de muziek van de Settiner-Kreuzpolka. Bijna terzelfder tijd waren de Hamburger en de Berlijner-Kruispolka in de mode. Al deze kruispolka's geleken als tweelingen op elkaar. De Kruispolka was ook bekend onder de naam La Berline, Terwijl in Engeland de dans Berlin Polka genoemd werd.

Polka history of dance
Polka
Polka is defined as a vivacious couple dance of Bohemian origin in duple time was a basic pattern of hop-step-close-step; a lively Bohemian dance tune in 2/4 time.
The polka was originally a Czech peasant dance, developed in Eastern Bohemia (now part of Czechoslovakia). Bohemian historians believe that the polka was invented by a peasant girl (Anna Slezak, in Labska Tynice in 1834) one Sunday for her amusement. It was composed to a folk song "Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla (Uncle Nimra brought a white horse)." Anna called the step "Madera" because of its quickness and liveliness.

The dance was first introduced into the ballrooms of Prague in 1835. The name of the dance (pulka) is Czech for "half-step", referring to the rapid shift from one foot to the other.In 1840, Raab, a dancing teach of Prague, danced the polka at the Odéon Theatre in Paris where it was a tremendous success. Parisian dancing teachers seized on the new dance and refined it for their salons and ballrooms. According to Cellarius, the famous French dancing master of the mid-nineteenth century: "What young man is there, although formerly most opposed to dancing, whom the polka has not snatched from his apathy to acquire, willy-nilly, a talent suddenly become indispensable?" Polkamania resulted.
 
Dance academies were swamped and in desperation recruited ballet girls from the Paris Opéra as dancing partners to help teach the polka.
This naturally attracted many young men who were interested in things other than dancing, and manners and morals in the dance pavilions deteriorated. Dancing developed a bad name and many parents forbade their daughters dancing with any but close friends of the family.

The polka was introduced in England by the middle of the nineteenth century. However, it did not achieve the popularity it had achieved on the Continent. By this time, it had also reached the United States. Thomas Balch, in his book Philadelphia Assemblies, reports that Breiter’s band composed a new polka for the occasion of the 1849 Assembly. It was evident the waltz and polka were gradually replacing the contredanse and cotillion.

The popularity of the polka led to the introduction of several other dances from central Europe. The simplest was the galop or galoppade which was introduced into England and France in 1829. Dance position was the same as for the waltz or polka, with couples doing a series of fast chassés about the room with occasional turns. Music was in 2/4 time, often merely a fast polka. The galop was particularly popular as the final dance of the evening.

The polonaise, named for its country of origin, was a stately processional march in slow ¾ time, often used for the opening of a fancy dress ball.
However, it never achieved great popularity as a ballroom dance. The Bohemian redowa consisted of three successive movements: a "pursuit" step, an ordinary waltz step, and a valse à deux temps step. It was danced to a slow waltz. The Polish mazurka, a fairly complicated dance to waltz music, included hops, sliding steps, and kicking the heels together.
The schottische was a German folk dance that consisted of a series of chassés and hops done to 2/4 and 4/4 music. There were also combination dances such as the polka-redowa and polka-mazurka.
Of all the dances originating in the nineteenth-century, the only one that has survived is the polka. After the initial enthusiasm, the polka gradually declined in popularity and reached a low point with the introduction of ragtime, jazz, and the newer dances of the early twentieth century. After the second world war, however, Polish immigrants to the United States adopted the polka as their "national" dance. It is also extremely popular with many other Americans who have succumbed to the new polka craze popularized by Lawrence Welk and other post-war bands.

For years to come, the polka will remain popular, with its variance in style from robust to smooth short, glide steps and ever happy music. One of the most popular versions of the polka is the "heel and toe and away we go" due to its ease to execute.
Polka is a popular dance in the country and western sector. Polka and schottische are competitive Country and Western dances.
The main story
The main story of the Polka is said comes from a story of Bohémia (at the time a part of CZ.) and was supposedly discovered by Joseph Neruba in 1830 and introduced it in 1835 (some say Joseph Cellarius). It is said that Joseph Neruba saw a little Bohémian peasant girl by the name of *Anna Chadimová-Slezak, born in Elbeteinitz in 1805-1884, who lived in Konotopy (or *Kostelec) on the Elbe (Elbeteinitz, Bohémia). (Note: Dates would make her 25-30 years old).
In 1830, Anna was dancing and singing to a tune she liked ("Strycek Nimra Koupil Simla") and invented a little dance which she called "Madera". Neruba, liking what he saw asked her to repeat the dance for him, seeing the possibilities of the dance, and the possibility of money, took it to Prague in 1835, it was here it was supposedly dubbed the Pulka (meaning a half), and later on went to Vienna in 1839 by a music band from Prague under the leadership of Pergier. In 1840 J. Raal, (a.k.a.: Raab, Baab) a dancing master of Prague danced it at the Odéon Theater and made it a huge success.

"The Polka (Polka Tremblante) was introduced into the ballrooms of France and England in 1843 by Cellarius, and led to the inauguration of the present style of round dancing. It had been in vogue but a short time on the other side of the Atlantic, when a musical and theatrical gentleman, named De Their, forwarded the music, and a description of the dance, in manuscript, to the proprietor of the New York Daily Aurora, of which paper he was a correspondent. Mr. Thaddeus W. Meighan, a gentleman connected with the editorial department of that paper, presented Prof. L. De. G. Brookes, who was ballet-master at the National Theatre, Chatham Street, New York at that time, with the music and a description of the dance. It was first danced in America by Miss Mary Ann Gammon and L.G. Brookes at that Theatre, on May 10, 1844. Mr. Allen Dodsworth, reportedly introduced this dance to his pupils in 1845 (dancing and its relations to education and social life-dodsworth-1895).

The Czech "Pulka" was an instant hit. The Illustrated London news in 1844 reported the first Polka done in London at Almacks dance hall. Fanny Cerrito and Arthur Saint Léon were avid dancers and performers of the Redowa (¾ time Polka) and introduced it to the Italians in 1845. (Neruba's later appeared in print in 1870, Published by Helmer, supposedly as the first polka.)

The Polka however is traced all the way back to 1822 in Czech, by a poet named Celakovsky, who had translated (of his tongue), the dances at the time, with one being the Cracoviacs (Poland), which at the time was exactly like the Polka. One of the title's of the songs he reported was "The Polish Maiden" which was probably named in honor of the Poles, which would have given rise to the SEMI-fictional Bohémian girl story above.
The polka originally only had ten figures but as time went on that did expand. The polka and Redowa were sometimes confused as the same dance. Polish-Americans have adopted the polka as their national dance. By 1860 the "frantic hopping" done originally in the Polka was calmed down to a subtle "rising and falling" and the flinging of the feet were much less obvious. This calming of the Polka is credited to France.

The Polka was the second "closed position" dance to be introduced to the world, the first being the Waltz. The word Polka (Pulka) is Czech meaning "Half-Step" pertaining to the quick movement from one foot to the other. The polka and other dances that followed were spin-offs of the waltz. The polka began to rival the waltz about 1835.

There are many variations of the Polka, such as the Heel and Toe Polka, Princess Marie Nicolaewnais credited with creating the Polka-Mazur (Polka-Mazurka) in 1830 which was basically a waltz. Polka-Waltz, Pulka (1840), Polka-Valse, Scottische-Polka, Polka-Redowa (SLOW POLKA) introduced in 1852 and done to redowa music, Polka-Coquette (c.1860), etc. (and as you can figure out they were a mixture of the dances named). Later on, the Castles would "invent" a dance called the "Half & Half", which was one half of one dance and half another, (guess they figured it out.) The Berlin dance was a mix of the Polka and Galop dances.
In the language of the Bohemians the word "rejdovat" means to push, to and fro. This term is applied to the "Pursuit" in the round dances (such as the waltz,) where the follower is pushed along the line of dance. In Zorn's book he recommends a "figure" (pattern) change every four measures.

This change of figures was named the Redowa (3/4) in southern Germany in 1830. The Redowa was known as the Hunter Schottische or Polka by "Neuchatel Hunters" (Berlin's Military) in certain countries like Berlin. The Polka was known as the "Schottische waltz" around 1840 in Germany. The Polka-Redowa is the same as the Polka, except that the pause of the Polka is omitted, and in dancing you count three for both the music and the dance.

Another dance, similar to the polka was the Galop (1815) or Galoppade which was introduced to England and France about 1829. The Polka is said to be a descendent of the sixteenth century Court dance called the Bourree of Avergneé. The Polka-Coquette was very much envogue about 1860. The Esmerelda was basically a polka with two additional slides.

an interesting side note that Henri Celarius states in his book "La Danse des Salons" (Drawing Room Dances) published in 1847 that:
"We have now to treat of one of the oldest and most popular of modern dances, the polka, which in spite of its foreign origin may now be considered as French, for it is to France that it owes its fashion and character of universality".... (It sounds like he knew that this was a much older dance, only 17 years old, however he called it a modern dance?)

Note:
1) During the Polka, there is no line of dance, you go where you can to avoid other couples.
2) Mr. Polkos of the "Polkos Rebellion", Vera Cruz, Mexico (1840's) the rebellion was named after the Polka.

Polka Timeline (for what I have found) ... many versions of the polka have been described as waltzes as well.
1500 - Bourree of Avergneé
1815 - Galop (aka: Gallopade)
1820 - Redowa (aka: Redjovat)
1822 - Cracovian (aka: Krakovioc, Krackowiak)
1830 - Madera Polka (aka: Czech Polka)
1830 - Polka-Mazur
1830 - Hunter Schottische (Redowa)
1835 - Celarius Pulka
1839 - New Polski Mazourka (Polka and Mazurka by Pauline Desjardins)
1839 - Viennese version
1840 - Pulka
1840s - Schottische Waltz (Germany)
1844 - English Polka
1845 - American version
1852 - Polka-Redowa (aka: Redowa Polka)
1853 - Varsiovinne (waltz with polka, redowa and Mazurka movements)
1860 - Polka-Coquette
1880s - Esmerelda Waltz/Polka - (aka: three slides polka)
1880s - Heel and Toe (aka: Bohemian) ... originally a variation of the original polka.
1880s - Combination Polka - (Esmerelda, Bohemian, Polka)
n/a - Polka-Waltz
n/a - Polka Valse
n/a - Schottische Polka
n/a - Berlin
1943 - Betty Grable Polka
 
 
Polka: Wisconsin's State Dance
by Richard March

The 19th-century European immigrants to Wisconsin arrived with polkas ringing in their ears. The polka, a lively couples dance in 2/4 time, had developed from folk roots and became a European popular dance craze in the 1840s.
 
In elite Paris salons and in humble village squares and taverns, polka dancers flaunted their defiance of the staid dance forms, the minuets and quadrilles, which had preceded this raucous and, for the times, scandalous new dance.

The political and social upheavals that coincided with the polka craze also launched thousands of European villagers on their hazardous migration to the American Midwest. They became farmers, miners, lumberjacks, factory workers, and entrepreneurs and continued to enjoy the music and dance traditions of their homelands, passing them on to the American-born generations.
Concurrent with the emergence of the polka was the booming popularity of brass bands and the invention of a variety of squeeze boxes - accordions and concertinas. Innovative tinkerers in France, England, and Germany developed a new family of instruments based on the principles of the sheng (a Chinese free reed instrument) but using the levers and springs of the Machine Age. Like the electronic keyboard in the late 20th century, the squeeze box was the 19th-century's most popular mechanical instrumental innovation. A single musician could replace a small ensemble, playing melodies and harmonies with the right hand while producing rhythmic chords and bass notes with the left. The prized possession in many an immigrant's pack was a button accordion or concertina, and that musician undoubtedly played a lot of polkas.

Upon its arrival, the polka became an American folk tradition. At rural house parties with the rug rolled up or at corner taverns in industrial towns, a squeezebox or a horn was likely to keep neighbors' feet stomping out polkas. A variety of American polka styles evolved in different sections of the Midwest, shaped by the creativity of particular talented and influential musicians. The styles have ethnic names - for example, Polish, Slovenian, Bohemian, Dutchman based on the origin of the core reper repertoire and the ethnic heritage of many of the musicians. But in the Midwest, music and dancing are shared among ethnic groups, and most bands are ethnically mixed.

In the 20th century, radio broadcasts and recordings delivered the polka to more new enthusiasts. Clear channel WCCO in Minneapolis broadcast Whoopee John's Dutchman music to six or more states, much as WSM's Grand Ole Opry spread Southern traditional music far and wide. The recordings of groups like the Romy Gosz Orchestra and Lawrence Duchow's Red Ravens aided their efforts to become popular as regional touring dance bands.

Right after World War 11, almost exactly a century after the original polka craze in Europe, polka music and dancing briefly entered popular culture in a big way once more, this time in America. Slovenian-American accordionist Frankie Yankovic, of Cleveland, became the biggest star and attracted devotees nationwide to his style. Lil' Wally Jjagiello's recordings on his own Jay Jay label established Chicago as the center of influence for Polish polka and converted many musicians to his "honky" sound. By the 1960s, rock 'n' roll had captured the popular music industry, but polka has endured in enclaves of a variety of communities.

In these communities, during the last quarter-century, polka musicians and dancers have organized institutions to perpetuate their passion. These include a network of polka dance halls, clubs, festivals, newsletters, mail-order recordings outlets, accordion makers and dealers, and radio and television shows.
Karl Hartwich was born in Moline, Illinois, in 1961. His father had relocated about 200 miles down the Mississippi River from his hometown near La Crosse, Wisconsin, seeking the good-paying factory jobs making agricultural implements in the Quad Cities area. But farming was in his blood, so the Hartwiches lived outside of Moline in rural Orion, where they raised hogs and field crops.

Karl's family kept in touch with their Wisconsin relatives. Karl remembers that at least twice a month they would make the trek upriver to attend dances where his distant cousin Syl Liebl and the jolly Swiss Boys were playing. Syl Liebl, a Dutchman-style concertina player, is a natural musician, inventive, spontaneous, and passionate. Little Karl must have absorbed the style like a sponge.

In response to his pleas, Karl received a concertina as a Christmas present when he was 12. A few months later he was sitting in with the Swiss Boys, and six months after that, at age 13, he had his own band, the Country Dutchmen, now in its 24th year. Karl has turned out to be just as original and passionate amusician as his mentor. He recalls driving the tractor on his family's farm, with dance tunes ringing in his head the engine roaring, his left hand on the wheel, his right hand on the tool box beside the seat pressing out concertina fingerings on the vibrating metal.

Karl has moved back upriver to Trempealeau, Wisconsin, a location more central to his band's regular gigs. Virtually every weekend he packs up the van and instrument trailer, and he and his sidemen converge on a dance hall or outdoor polka festival. Casual in his dress and personal style, Karl is nonetheless very serious about his music. He is recognized as the outstanding Dutchman concertinist of his generation. Paradoxically, his music is at once controlled and free. Karl has emphasized the syncopation, chromatic runs, and improvisational flourishes of the basic Dutchman style more than any of his predecessors.
It is indicative of the unique cultural milieu of eastern Wisconsin that Cletus Bellin, a proud member of the Walloon Belgian ethnic community of northeastern Wisconsin, is also the leader of one of the finest Czech-style polka bands in the Midwest, the Clete Bellin Orchestra. A proficient pianist and a very strong singer, Clete took the trouble to learn the correct pronunciation of the Czech folk song lyrics from a friend in the nearby town of Pilsen.
As a boy in the 1940s on a farm in southern Door County, Wisconsin, Clete was as likely to use the Walloon Belgian dialect of French spoken in his highly culturally retentive community as the English he learned in school. Clete has had a lifelong interest in his Belgian culture, and, now in his fifties, he is one of the area's youngest remaining truly fluent speakers of Walloon.
Clete's career in music has included playing in the Wisconsin Bohemian- or Czech-style bands of Marvin Brouchard and Jerry Voelker and working for many years as the radio station manager and on-air personality for a Kewaunee, Wisconsin, polka station. Moved by the style of singing and playing of the Czech musical performing groups Budvarka, Veselka, and Moravanka, which toured Wisconsin in the early 1980s, Clete resolved to start a band to perform in a style closer to the European manner from which the other Wisconsin Bohemian bands had diverged. His group is widely acclaimed at polka festivals and Czech ethnic events throughout the country.
Steve Meisner was born in 1960 in Whitewater, a small town southeast of Milwaukee. At the time, Steve's father Verne was already an established musician, an accordion prodigy whose original band, Verne Meisner and the Polka Boys, was aptly named - the members were in their early teens when they started taking professional gigs. That was the early 1950s, just in the wake of Frankie Yankovic's having made the Slovenian style of polka one of the most popular forms of music in Wisconsin. By the 1960s, the Verne Meisner Band was one of the best-known polka groups in the region.
Steve received an ambivalent message from Verne when he showed an interest in music. Seven-year-old Steve's entreaties to his father to teach him to play were rebuffed at first. Then Verne thrust a momentous decision upon his young son: "If you begin to play, you have to promise that you'll never quit." Steve leapt at the challenge without a safety net and made it. Only a year later his father began to bring Steve along to play with the Meisner band, often placing the diminutive kid on a box so that he could reach the microphone.
Steve started his own band, the Steve Meisner Orchestra, while still in his teens and has continued the family tradition in the polka-music business, playing regionally and nationally, producing his own CDs and videos, and organizing polka tours and cruises. Steve acknowledges his musical debt to the Slovenian-style musicians of the previous generation but has pushed the envelope of the form in hot arrangements and in original material which expresses a range of emotions.
When Norm Dombrowski was a teenager in the 1950s, he wasn't particularly inspired by the polka bands active in his hometown of Stevens Point, in a rural area of central Wisconsin populated by Polish-American dairy and potato farmers. The Dutchman style was the popular sound then at old-time dances. According to Norm, the bands he heard didn't sound too spontaneous; perched behind bandstands, the musicians' noses seemed to be stuck in their sheet music.
Then, in 1956, Chicago's Lil' Wally Jagiello gave two legendary performances at the Peplin Ballroom in Mosinee, just north of Stevens Point. Huge crowds turned out. Norm heard a modem Polish polka sound firmly grounded in the Polish folk music familiar to him from house parties and weddings. What impressed Norm were the band's lack of sheet music and their liveliness, reminiscent of rock 'n' roll bands. Norm decided he wanted to play in this style, and, like his new hero Lil' Wally, he was determined to become a singing drummer. By 1960 he was able to start the Happy Notes Orchestra with three friends, playing for dances locally and as far afield as Minneapolis and Chicago.
The Happy Notes evolved into a family band as Norm's children grew old enough to be competent musicians. Unlike most other Polish-style bands at the time, Norm's did not adopt the streamlined "Dyno" or "Push" style, but remained closer to Lil' Wally's "honky" sound, which emphasized call and response. Norm stresses the singing of the old Polish songs but also includes in the band's repertoire German, Czech, and even Norwegian numbers to satisfy patrons of other ethnic backgrounds.
These four polka musicians represent the ways in which ethnic polka styles have remained distinct in Wisconsin. Their repertoires also demonstrate the transformation of polka traditions in the Midwest, the development of regional sounds played by bands of mixed ethnicity. The dedication and artistry of these and many other musicians, who continue to reinvent tradition, attest to the vitality of the polka in Wisconsin.
The polka was a rebellious dance in the 19th century and has become a Midwestern regional tradition since. Today Midwesterners have the opportunity to dance to rock music, join square dance clubs, or do Country line dancing, but instead choose to polka. It is a validation of their regional and ethnic roots, an expression of their determination not to be homogenized out of existence. Through the polka they reaffirm membership in a supportive and embracing community based upon friendship, eating, drinking, and socializing, as well as plenty of dancing.
 
Polka Geschichte:
Die Geschichte der Polka ist eine recht interessante, entstand der Tanz doch in den 30er Jahren des 19. Jahrhunderts in Tschechien. Zur Geschichte der Polka wurden viele Dissertationen geschrieben, flossen doch in die Tanzmusik der damaligen Zeit viele patriotische und politische Ideen ein. Die damaligen bürgerlichen Tänze hatten einen sehr starken revolutionären Charakter, was sogar noch bei den ersten Opernbällen (die zunächst ja nicht so hießen) zu finden ist: Der Tanz war nicht erlaubt.

Die Polka insbesondere entstand in der Zeit des Aufschwungs des jungen fortschrittlichen tschechischen Bürgertums. Es entstanden eine Reihe von figuralen Volkstänzen, die jedoch recht schnell in Rundtänze überführt wurden, aus denen dann unter anderem die Polka entstand. Tatsächlich sind verschiedene Elemente der Polka schon in früheren Tänzen - nicht nur in Tschechien - zu finden. Der Tanz erhielt jedoch eine große Popolarität vermutlich aufgrund des politischen Kontext der Sympathien für die polnische Revolution im Jahre 1830.
 
Man war „der steifen, widernatürlichen Menuette, der Tänze einer abgewirtschafteten, höfischen Zivilisation überdrüssig“, schreibt Paul Nett[ und fährt fort: „Die Sehnsucht nach einem freieren erotischen Leben war schon in den barocken ... Bauernhochzeiten zum Ausdruck gekommen, aber nur versteckt, und man war ja wieder nur 'unter sich'. Hatte aber einmal das Bürgertum die Führung der Gesellschaft übernommen, da gab es auch im Tanz keinen Halt.“
Die Quadrille
Am Anfang des 18. Jahrhunderts begann die englische Gesellschaft ihre Volkstänze zu vergessen, sie tanzten kleine "Jigs" und "Round Abouts" und später Polkas. Sie vergassen die "Lines", die "Rounds für so viele wie wollten", die "Round für acht" und den "Square für acht". Wenn Du dir diese Aufzählung eine Minute lang ansiehst wirst Du feststellen, dass dieser "Square für acht" - der richtige Square Dance - nahe daran war, vergessen zu werden, unbeachtet weit hinten am Ende eines Astes wie ein schöner reifer Pfirsich, der selbst von der Leiter aus nicht erreicht werden konnte

Sein Überleben schien am "Round für acht" zu hängen, den die Franzosen als nächstes entdeckten. Sie holten ihn über den Kanal und machten daraus einen Tanz den sie "contredanse francaise" nannten. Sie müssen dabei den "Square für acht" mit übernommen und eingebaut haben, denn sie hatten ebenso wie wir Schwierigkeiten den Unterschied zu erklären.  Aber was machte das schon?

Petticoat Tänze
Aus diesem neuen Material machten sie keinen Contra Dance sondern richtigen Square Dance. Sie erfanden bald einen eigenen Namen dafür: Cotillon. Cotillon bedeutet Petticoat (Unterrock), und der Name mag von einem Volkslied jener Zeit gekommen sein, in dem es heisst: Mein Schatz, sieht man meinen Unterrock wenn ich tanze? Wir nehmen an, sie hoffte man würde etwas sehen, denn es war ein besonders schöner Unterrock. Es war als ob sie ein strohgedecktes englisches Landhaus mit steilem Dach, einem Garten und einem Bach genommen und es in ein französisches Schlösschen mit Rasenflächen, gestutzten Hecken und einem Becken mit einer Fontäne umgebaut hätten.
 
Der Cotillon war streng quadratisch in der Formation und wie sich zeigte, streng ländlich. Sein grösster Fehler war die Monotonie. Endlose Wiederholungen der gleichen Figuren in endlosen Tänzen haben den Cotillon sterben lassen.
 
Ein Versuch der Wiederbelebung wurde im 19. Jahrhundert unternommen indem so viel Abwechslung hineingebracht wurde, dass der Tanz seine Eigenarten vollständig verlor. In Amerika wurde ein Cotillion (mit dem "i") entwickelt, ein herrlicher Tanzreigen, in dem sich keine zwei Tänze glichen. Das ganze Arrangement war sehr aufwendig gestaltet, und am Ende des Tanzes wurde den Damen ein kleines Geschenk überreicht. Der richtige Cotillon hätte wiederbelebt werden sollen, war aber schon ein halbes Jahrhundert verloren und das Wort hatte, obwohl es noch benutzt wurde, keine Bedeutung mehr.
Der einzige Grund warum wir den Cotillon in unserer Geschichte eingeschlossen haben ist die Tatsache, dass er zur Grossen Quadrille geführt hat. Das ist auch der Name der in Grossbuchstaben geschrieben werden muss.
 
Die Grosse Quadrille
Das Wort heiss natürlich vierfach - ein Tanz für vier Paare in einer vierseitigen Figur. Der leichte Square Dance setzte sich aus fünf Figuren zusammen deren erste normalerweise eine Art Überkreuzen war wie "Head couples right and left through and the sides do the same" (Kopfpaare rechts und links vorbei und die Seitenpaare machen das Gleiche). Dann mag es eine Art Vor- und Zurück-Figur gegeben haben und dann ein "Alamo Style balance" in einer Viererlinie (Welle). Anschliessend vielleicht noch einen Kreis nach links mit "Four Ladies Grand Chain" (eine vier Damen Kette) und einer Basket (Korb) Figur. Ihr modernen Square Dancer tanzt so etwas "mit links".
Polka:
Paarrundtanz im 2/4-Takt, der um 1830 in Böhmen (im Gebiet um Krávolé Hradec [Königgrätz]) aufkam. Der Legende nach soll die Polka von einem böhmischen Bauernmädchen erfunden und erstmals getanzt worden sein. Tanzgeschichtlich gesehen ist die Polka aber jedenfalls keine fest datierbare und völlig neue Erfindung. Ihre Schritte sind schon in dem viel älteren Ecossaisen-Walzer und vor allem dem Schottisch, der bereits um 1810 getanzt wurde, vorhanden. Im Rhythmus und der Tanzausfiihrung ähneln sich Polka und Schottischer sehr. Der Name Polka kommt von "pulka", was die "Hälfte" bedeutet und auf den für den Tanz charakteristischen Halbschritt hinweist. Die Tanzform der Polka, die im tschechischen Volkstanz unter dem Namen "Nimra" ihren Vorläufer hat, verbreitete sich von Böhmen aus als Gesellschaftstanz über Stadt und Land. 1835 wurde sie erstmals namentlich erwähnt, 1837 kam sie nach Prag, 1838 brachte sie der Tanzmeister Johann Raab zum ersten Mal in Prag und 1840 erstmals in Paris auf die Bühne, 1839 kam sie nach Wien, 184 1/42 erschien Sie zum ersten Mal in norddeutschen Städten. Von 1844 an, als sie Paris als Modetanz bereits bestätigt hatte, wurde die Polka der Gesellschaftstanz par excellence und verdrängte endgültig den Schottischen. Der ab dieser Zeit in aller Welt gelehrte Gesellschaftstanz "Polka" hatte aber nur mehr wenig mit dem ehemaligen böhmischen Volkstanz gemeinsam. Es entwickelten sich zahlreiche Sonderfonnen der Polka im Volkstanz und im Gesellschaftstanz, die sich in vielen Sonderbezeichnungen widerspiegeln. Viele Tänze gleichen rhythmischen Charakters, oft vermischt mit Elementen des Volkstanzes, wurden dann als Polka bezeichnet. Die Polka kam als Gesellschaftstanz um die Wende zum 20. Jh. immer mehr aus der Mode, in den verschiedenen Volkstanzformen blieb sie aber bis heute erhalten. Die Polka fand auch Eingang in die Kunstmusik, z. B. bei F. Smetana im Streichquartett "Aus meinem Leben" und in der Oper "Die verkaufte Braut". (Bayrische Polka, Doudlebska-Polka, Esmeralda, Ennstaler Polka, Fingerlpolka, Graziana, Hackerpolka, Juudipolka, Krebspolka, Krejc-Polka, Kreuzpolka, Linzer Polka, Monferrina, Paschpolka, Polka française, Polka-Mazurka, Polka piquée, Polka tremblante, Rheinländer, Rigapolka, Schnellpolka, Schusterpolka, Sechserpolka, Spitzbuampolka, Sternpolka, Twostep, Walser-Polka, Zeppelpolka).
 
Schottisch: (auch Ecossaisen-Walzer oder Schottisch-Walzer genannt) Ein, in der ersten Hälfte des 19. Jh. weitverbreiteter und beliebter Modetanz. Obwohl aus der gedrehten Ecossaisen-Tour hervorgegangen, sind seine Vorläufer in dem alten deutschen Hopser zu suchen. Sein Name taucht schon in den Lautenbüchern des 16. Jh. auf und erscheint bereits in J. S. Bachs Hochzeitskantate.
 
In musikalisch-rhythmischer Hinsicht ist der Tanz in dem vor dem 18. Jh. bekannten Lied Vetter Michel vorhanden. Seine Tanzbewegung besteht aus einem Wechselschritt mit einem Hüpfer. Er ist der erste geradtaktige Gesellschaftstanz mit einer Drehung im Wechselschritt. Im allgemeinen gilt für ihn die Rechtsdrehung. Hauptsächlich wurde er als Rundtanz zu Paaren getanzt, hat aber mannigfache Umwandlungen erfahren und war besonders im Bereich des Volkstanzes unter verschiedenen Namen gebräuchlich, wie Bummelschottisch, Figurenschottisch, Fingerschottisch, Hackenschottisch, Hipper, Jägerschottisch, Nickelsdorfer- und Reidlingerschottisch, Schwedisch-Schottisch, Vögelischottisch, Wackelschottisch, Weitschottisch und Winkerschottisch. Als Modetanz verlor der Schottische seine Bedeutung gegen die Mitte des 19. Jh. und wurde vor allem durch die Polka verdrängt. (Rheinländer, Bayrische Polka, Fyramannaschottisch).
Aus: Tanzlexikon Otto Schneider, Seite 471
 
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