26 June 2020     Interesting facts 

Highlanders are a group of people who grew up in the high Tatra Mountains in Poland. This region has a very rich cultural heritage and traditions.

The Group "Harnasie" at the Polish Association of Highlanders in Mississauuga (Ontario), Canada is winner of the Golden medal in category "Folklore ensembles - authentic folklore", nominated for the Grand Prix of the World Cup of Folklore - Veliko Tarnovo in 2018.

Dancers have shown their energy with the powerful highlanders' dance named "Zbojnicki". The name comes from the word "zboj" that means robber in Polish.

The legends tell that the choreography originated in the Polish Tatras, among the noble mountain robbers who claimed to be the people's avengers. Characteristic of the performance is that it is performed only by men. 

The folk costume of the dancers includes a hat, a wide belt and a kierpsa (moccasins).

An important choreographic element and component of men's folklore costumes is the "ciupaga" - an instrument that resembles an ice ax, which is categorized as a polygonal blunt weapon. Ciupaga served as a tool for mountain climbing, as a tool for protection against wild animals, such as bears and it is a type of battle ax, popular in the Middle Ages.

The Group "Harnasie" was founded 41 years ago and the connection with the Polish  Association of Highlanders in Canada aims to preserve the cultural heritage of Polish immigrants and their children who were born abroad.

Members of the group believe that the spirit of Podhale (the southernmost region of Poland) lives in music, songs and dances. The traditions of the highlanders are as respected and revered in Canada as they are among the mountains in Podhale. The artistic directors of the ensemble, Dorota Mirda and Sylvester Novak, try to preserve the authenticity of their work. They pay special attention to the younger generation in the hope of passing on the traditions and richness of their folklore. The group's performers have performed on stage in Costa Rica, Mexico, Poland, and many regions of Canada.