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Polish American Presents Theater Award
New York City director and choreographer and Post Eagle Arts columnist Staś Kmieć was flown to Poland to present the award for “Best Choreographer” at the Jan Kiepura Musical Theater Awards (Teatralna Nagroda Muzyczna im. Jana Kiepury), that took place in Warsaw on May 16.
In photo on right: Staś Kmieć presented the award of Best Choreographer to Artur Zymelka
American-born, Kmieć has directed and choreographed musicals, ballet, opera, concert dance and film in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Ireland, and for national tours in the United States. As a dancer he performed on Broadway, with star Rudolf Nureyev, Metropolitan Opera Ballet, The Boston Ballet, and The American Dancemachine. Recently, he was the Artistic Director of Ballet Western Reserve. Kmieć is on the voting committee for Broadway’s Tony Awards and is on the National Council of Actors’ Equity. He is a graduate of Tufts University and also the school of Polish dance at the University of Marie Curie-Sklodowska in Lublin.
For the seventh time, award statuettes were handed out to musical theater artists in 12 categories including: best musical, singers, dancers, director and conductor, and stage designers, among others. The winner in the category of “best choreographer” was Arthur Żymełka of the Music Theatre in Łódz for the production of Leonard Bernstein’s American musical “Wonderful Town.”
In photo on right: At the reception: Kmieć (center) with winners Krystyna Mazurówna (Lifetime Achievement) and Barbara Ptak (Best Costume Design).
The “First Lady of Polish Song” Irena Santor presented the award for best vocalist, which went to Anna Sroka-Hryń for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in “Édith i Marlene.” Sroka-Hryń later mesmerized the audience with a selection of Piaf songs.
Best costume design went to the legendary Barbara Ptak who has worked on stage and in film with such directors as Andrzej Wajda and four films, for which she designed the costumes, have been nominated for an Oscar.
Noted film and stage actor Olgierd Łukasiewicz (Wesele, Brzezina, Noce i Dnie, Dekalog, Sekmisja, among others) presnted the award for “Best Musical” to “Korczak,” written by Nick Stimson and Chris Williams, which was presented by the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic. Mariusz Kwiecień, who is an artist of The Metropolitan Opera won in the “Best Male Vocalist” category for his work at the Opera Krakowska.
In photo on right: The “Best Dancer” Award went to Angelika Gembiak (whose relatives reside in CT)
The lifetime achievement award was given to choreographer and dancer Krystyna Mazurówna by Polish tenor Wiesław Ochman, whose international carer includes The Metropolitan Opera. The 74-year old Mazurówna said in accepting the award that “her career is not over, she still has much to create.” A former soloist with The Solistka Teatru Wielkiego w Warszawie.Grand Theatre in Warsaw, she now makes Paris her home.
It is the plan of the Włodzimierz Izban, General and Artistic Director of the Mazowiecki Music Theatre – who created the Awards, to have Kmieć return in 2014 to choreograph and to establish the first training program of Broadway Musical Theater in Poland. The month-long symposium would encompass the classic American dance styles of Bob Fosse, Jerome Robbins, Jack Cole, and Agnes DeMille, along with others, vocal technique, acting and history. The goal is to enable Polish talent to become the triple threat of actor-singer-dancer, which is a trait found in Broadway performers.
“Along with new and original work, there has been a recent trend of presenting American musicals in Poland,” said Kmieć. “Having witnessed the talents of Polish artists through the performances of the musical “Metro” on Broadway, national companies such as Mazowsze, Śląsk, theater, opera, and ballet companies, as well The Roma Musical Theater in Warsaw, I am excited to bring our Broadway style to Poland.”
In photo on right: Famed Polish singer Irena Santor presented the award fo “Best Vocalist”
Kmieć will travel to Minneapolis in July as a guest instructor of “performing technique and presence” at The Polish Folk Dance Association of the Americas’ 17th festival – marking the 30th anniversary of the organization.