The story of the Group
The Żywiec Area is a geographic area in the Southern Poland, near to the state border between Poland and Slovakia. It is a part of the mountain range of the Beskid Wysoki. It is also one of the most picturesque Polish regions. Just in its central area, at the confluence the Soła River and the Koszarawa River, Żywiec Town is located. Being over 700-years-old, the town is a well-known locality in Poland; at the same time, it is a resilient cultural centre that preserves and cultivates local traditions. There lives number of authentic folk creators that continue former customs and crafts in the Żywiec area.
The Żywiec highlanders make one of the ethnical groups that proved to be the most persistent in preservation of their cultural uniqueness. The Ziemia Żywiecka Folk Group for Dances and Songs is an excellent representative of the area; the artists popularize the cultural values come from the region. Performances of the Group are great demonstrations of unique customs, costumes, songs and dances; all the components, having adapted for the stage, keep their traditional shape in their contemporary artistic arrangement.
The Group was established in 1971 at the FAMED Company in Żywiec, so it firstly appeared as FAMED Folk Group. Having worked hard for the first year, the Group performed a show based on rich folklore of the former Żywiec townspeople. After two years, the Group broadened its repertoire by lively folklore of the Żywiec Highlanders. The scheme, for the first time, was showed at the folk festival The Week of the Beskidy Mountains Culture in Sucha Beskidzka Town in 1973. Two years later (1975), the group changed its patron; that is why it started to be called SEDZIOLY Dance Group. Having had rich artistic programme, the Group went for further performances all over the country and abroad - in the Czechoslovakia and the Eastern Germany as well as Bulgaria and France.
At the turn of the 70thies and 80thies, the Group won number of prizes; among them the Złote Serce(The Golden Heart of Żywiec Town) in the Folk Festival of Polish Highlanders, Żywiec Town 1980; theZłota Ciupaga (The Golden Highland Axe) in the International Folk Festival for Mountainous Areas, Zakopane Town 1981.
In January 1982, the Group started working under patronage of the Town Council. Then the Group was called The Ziemia Żywiecka; so far this well-deserved name has obliged the Group to keep working hard for fame of the regional culture.
All the time the Ziemia Żywiecka Folk Group has been winning prizes of the highest degrees at a good deal of folk festivals, both domestic and foreign ones. The Group has gained strong recognition wherever it acted. Especially, being commonly liked by the society in the Żywiec area, the Group regularly gives concerts to the local public; this has made both a contribution to the regional cultural life and a part of many local ceremonies. The Group`s performances were broadcast on the radio and TV channels. There appeared cassettes with the music of the Group - Christmas carols, dance melodies of townspeople and highlanders.
The Ziemia Żywiecka Group for Dances and Songs is a fully amateur folk group affiliated to the Municipal Centre of Culture in Żywiec Town. It gathers both adults and youth, children and teenagers; what they have in common is their passion for the local music and dance from the Żywiec area as well as other areas of folk culture. They create well-organized team acting in a family atmosphere. Taking great care over regional customs and folklore, they perfectly combine authentic programmes and excellent performance.
Working so hard the dancers and musicians from the Żywiec Town are enthusiastically applauded dance in a lively manner the HAJDUK (Hungarian Dance), the KRAKOWIAK (Cracovian Dance) or the OBEREK (Kuyavian Dance). In 1993 their excellent work was awarded with The Prize after Oskar Kolberg, highly appreciated in the folklore world.
The Group has given concerts all over Poland; also, they visited four continents - over 20 countries. The Group was awarded with countless number of prizes and honourable mentions as well as medals from Żywiec Town Council and other regional authorities. Also, some localities abroad gave their medals, among them Ołomuniec Town, Vittel Town, Blanzy Town, Annemasse Town, Tulle Town, Dresden Town, San Saverino Marco Town and Salonique Town.