2017-2019 IWONA SZCZEPAŃSKI
Iwona Szczepanski was born in Poland and began dancing with a local children’s dance group at the age of 8. After immigrating to Canada, she continued to dance from age 12 to 22 in a folklore dance group in Edmonton. She has a tremendous love for music, Polish culture and children, as well as teaching. When she successfully completed the Polish Dance Choreography Diploma in 2002, her adventure in dance continued. In 2003, along with husband Peter, they started a dance group in Kelowna called Polish Eagles. As the Artistic Director, Iwona choreographed dances from the Krakow, Lublin, Lowicz, Podhale, Rzeszow, Kaszuby and Slask regions. The youth also learned the five national dances of Poland: Polonez, Mazur, Kujawiak, Oberek, and Krakowiak. In 2016, Iwona was awarded the Polish Consulate General Certificate for her contributions to Polish Culture in Canada.
Today, now a family of four, she is the Artistic Director Krakusy Polish Folk Dance Association in Calgary, Alberta. Since her work with Krakusy in 2017, Iwona has elevated the group to a new dance quality. From 10 children, the group has grown in numbers to over 35 members, and is now divided into a Little Krakusy and Older Krakusy. Iwona has brought forth dances like Kaszuby, Krakowiak, Slask, Polki, Beskid Slaski, Cowboy Medley, and most recently – Tarantella. Iwona’s love for dance is transformed as she teaches children and youth not only the basis of Polish folk dance but also basic ballet and gymnastics technique as well as other international dances. With the assistance of other great Choreographers, Iwona has brought forth Spisz and Beskid Slaski. Krakusy have been very busy with many local performances in many Polish events, Christmas Market in Spruce Meadows, Canada Day celebrations, and local fundraisers. They have also had the privilege to join forces with Polish Eagles and together perform at Canada Day celebrations in 2017 in beautiful Kelowna, BC. In the summer of 2018, Krakusy were the only Polish dance group from Western Canada to represent our province in the prestigious Festival in Iwonicz-Zdroj (a festival which takes place only every three years). Most recently, a new dance called Polish Flowers, choreographed by Iwona, was met with much joy and tears of nostalgy when it was performed during the Poland Centennial celebrations in November 2018. Iwona has most recently began to build the instructor team in Krakusy, in order to ensure the children have continuous instruction and development. The group is growing, and so must the instructor team. Iwona hopes to continue to share her love for Polish folklore with the children and youth here in Calgary, and through fun, music and song, continue to instill in them the adventure of Polish dance! Bringing new dances to the already existing exciting program is Iwona’s continuous goal. The fantastic spirit of Krakusy and the amazing support of the parents is the foundation for future growth, fun and success.