Mysteries, Initiations
7th - 14th October

Mysteries, Initiations is the latter half of Włodzimierz Staniewski’s project launched already in 1999. The most crucial idea of the Festival is the presentation of the world of mysticism alive in a variety of cultures and religions; the world whose primeval and often archaic forms make it the vehicle of the values that must be considered the universal inheritance of humankind. The 1999 part of the Festival included an international conference devoted to Mysteries and initiation ceremonies in the rituals of different cultures as well as Metamorphoses (Metamorfozy) - a performance of the “gardzienice” Theatre. This year’s festival will review semi-theatrical shows presenting the most fascinating celebrations and rituals from all over the world. Apart from the stage productions proper, the programme includes workshops, lectures, and film presentations on the “gardzienice” Centre for Theatre Practices.

Already on 7th October, the Sokół Sports Hall will become the stage for a performance of the Dora Stratou - Greek Dances Theatre which will present the dances of ancient Greece. This dance group is often defined as a living museum of Greek dance. Operating since 1953, the Dora Stratou is a 75-person-strong team of artists: dancers, musicians, and folk singers. Their productions are normally staged in the theatre-garden situated opposite the Acropolis. They perform in authentic folk costumes whose collection is a true gallery of folk art.

The next day’s presentation (on 8th October) will bring us the Social Dances of Pueblo Taos performed by the Indians from Pueblo Taos themselves. The Pueblo Taos is probably the oldest constantly inhabited village in the United States. Oral tradition passed from generation to generation reach the origins of the Homo Sapiens. The language spoken by the Pueblo Taos community is unrecorded, and its native speakers wish it to remain so.

The Red Willow Junior Dancers dance group recruits from among the students of Taos Pueblo Day School who, together with older dancers, will present to the public what they call social dances of Taos Pueblo. Unlike the ritual dances performed only for the Taos community, the social dances are performed publicly to add splendour to local cultural events and Pow-Wows.

Another extraordinary event will be the performance of the Samaveda Chanters from India. One of the Vedas, that is the sacred scriptures that form the foundation of Hinduism, the Sama-Veda is a collection of Hindu mantras and tunes. As apart from the votive verses, the Sama-Veda includes recording of their melody, it is believed to be the world’s oldest music notation and the origin of all music of India. Sama-Veda has been passed on as oral tradition. At present there are three major schools of the Sama-Veda, with the Jaimineeya School of the Namboodiri tradition taking a special place among them as the most authentic one that preserves the true purity of style. Yet this beautiful and ancient tradition is now endangered, as there are only five Nelliikkat brothers alive; they are singers who practise the tradition of Sama-Veda chanting in the Namboodiri style. They chant, give lectures, and conduct workshops all over the world, trying to maintain the Jaimineeya tradition. Their performance was documented in 1998 during a recording that took over 70 hours. In Krakow, they will present fragments of the Vedaic texts in the Tempel Synagogue.

Lost in Ecstasy is the title of the performance by Galata Mevlevi Music and Sema Ensemble from Turkey. The history of the Mevlevi Order dates back to the 12th century AD though the main body of the teachings of the order was formulated later by Mevlan Dschellaleddin Rumi (1207-1273). Following Mevlan’s injunction, the dervishes should have one foot standing in one place, and the other circling the 72 nations. In order to fulfil this, the 15-person-strong ensemble embark on a new tour twice a year. Dance, for the dervishes, is a method of getting closer to God, with whirling symbolising also the cosmic revolutions. Dervishes perform the Sema ritual: a testimony to the spiritual journey of man. Nearly everything has symbolic significance here: the clothing, the gestures, and even the direction of whirling. The power stemming from this most extraordinary dance is felt also by its spectators.

The Afro-Cuban rendition of “Forefathers’ Eve” will be presented by the Cuban Jagüey Ensemble. Established in 1975 by students and professors of the Teacher University, the ensemble derived its name from the mythological name drawn from a true story about a tree endowed with religious properties. The goal of the ensemble is to promote the Franco-Haitian, Afro-Cuban, and Anglo-Caribbean folklore. Their repertoire includes the reception room dances of Haitian slaves, an interlude building a bridge between life and death, and a spectacle expressing the beauty of Cuban melodies. In Krakow, they will present a spectacle based on ritual Afro-Cuban dances known as the Santeria. The individual sequences of the ritual, whose dramatic content is presented through singing accompanied by kettle-drums, are addressed to the 21 Orisha deities.

The Festival will end in a performance by the French Ensemble Kérylos specialising mainly in the performance of ancient vocal and instrumental music which has managed to survive to our times in a variety of forms. The name of the ensemble is derived from the poetic name for the halcyon fairy-bird, and also from the name of the villa which Théodore Reinach, an archaeologist and a pioneer of research of ancient music, built in the Greek style. The ensemble resorts to precise reading of ancient music notation (papyrus scrolls, inscriptions, as well as medieval and Byzantine manuscripts) to perform its music; the texts are sung in Greek with preservation of the ancient pronunciation, whereas the instruments are carefully reconstructed from texts, sculptures and archaeological findings. In St Catherine’s Church, Kérylos will present a concert of ancient Greek songs.

The Festival could not be held without the organiser: The “gardzienice” Centre for Theatre Practices and their production of Metamorphoses.

For the details of the Mysteries, Initiations programme, please turn to the Schedule of Artistic Events chapter. Free admission to workshops and lectures, tickets to performances: individual: PLN 25/15, all: PLN 100/60.




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Supported financially by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage

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