2020-2021 IZABELA LESNICZUK
Izabela Leśniczuk was born in Toronto, Ontario where her parents immigrated to from Poland. Izabela almost immediately emerged into the world of Polish culture in Calgary, where they moved soon after she was born. She sang in a Polish church choir, attended Polish school, Polish Bible camp, Polish community gatherings and events, and Polish church. She loved to be involved in the community and has remained devoted to preserving and sharing the rich and robust aspects of her Polish heritage with friends, family, and the public. Izabela loves to express herself through the world of dance and has been devoted to it for its ability to bring people together, to teach life skills, and to be used as a creative outlet and a way to connect to her Polish background. Izabela’s drive and hard work brought her to become somebody who wanted to be a leader and had the traits of leadership. She has enjoyed working with kids for several years and has experienced teaching grades K-12, holding a Bachelor’s degree in Education with specialization in Elementary and a minor in Humanities. She aims to make Polish folk dance an enjoyable experience for all children. Her goal is to help each child feel important and accepted and to provide various means for the many learning styles at every level.
She began dancing at the young age of 5 in classical ballet and Polish folk dance. Her passion for music and dance quickly expanded and ranged into various genres such as musical theatre, jazz, tap, hip hop, street jazz and lyrical. She began taking dance exams for ballet, tap, and jazz onto advanced 1 in ballet and danced competitively for which she was awarded high gold and 1st place for many solos and group dances.
At age 12, she received an award from her studio as “The Most Outstanding Ballet Dancer.” In 2008 and 2011, Izabela was cast as a local dancer in The Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Cinderella and Swan Lake, performing alongside professional ballet dancers. Once she decided to focus on only ballet, she was accepted into the International School of Ballet in Calgary. She has been involved in Polish Folk Song and Dance in Calgary for a total of 19 years. Dance and being a part of the Polish community taught Izabela the valuable life skills of cooperation, creativity, and the strength of community that she has carried on with ther throughout the years. She loves to experiment with different music and genres to build and expand musical and physical literacy for dancers. Her main goal is to strengthen and diversify Polish dance, music, and cultural knowledge whilst making fun memories that will last a lifetime.
2019-2020 EWA LUKASIK-TOKARZ
Ewa Lukasik – Tokarz is a Professional Ballroom an Latin dance instructor. Originally from Poland, where she started her dancing journey at age of 6 in a local dance school. At the age of 9 she started to attend to Public School of Ballet, followed by Studio of Ballet patronage of the National Ballet School in Bytom, where she achieved very good and excellent marks in Eurhythmics, Classical Dance, Dance Techniques, Characteristic Dance, Folk Dance and National Dance. Few years later she discovered Ballroom and Latin and followed her competitive dancing passion for the next 11 years till age of 26. She has been trained by great coaches, so she understand, that only hard work, focus on goals, fighting your weaknesses, dedication and commitment can bring a real success. With her partner – now husband – by winning many National and Grand Prix competitions, they achieved National Master Championship in 10 dances (cha-cha, rumba, jive, paso doble, samba and waltz, quickstep, tango, foxtrot, viennese waltz) as a members of Polish Dance Sport Federation PTT.
Thanks to her various dance experience she received main dancing role as a dancer in horeodram “dance lesson” directed by famous Polish director Tomasz Golebiowski and performed it on Stary Theater stage in season 2010-2011 in Cracow, article about that perform in polish language everyone interested can read in Mixer magazyn #42 https://issuu.com/magazyn-mixer/docs/42_mixer
Before she come to Canada she did certification on University of Physical Education in Cracow with dance sport faculty, followed by Aerobics – Gymnastics Instructor Course, then started teaching in polish schools as a dance coach. In 2009-2011 she worked for “Stowarzyszenie Tęcza” – Down syndrome Association. Prepared dance choreography “Spring” win first place during Polish Musical Review of Disabled People ‘O Buławe Lajkonika’ in 2011
The same year 2011 she came to Canada and started working for Dancenergy Premier Center of Dance in Calgary. She was teaching there till 2018 first Ballroom and Latin, then after taking trainings she teached as well Swing, Country, Cuban, American Smooth and American Latin Dances. Through those 8 years she prepared many students in all ages for competitions and showcases. She danced as a teacher in professional-amateur competitions with her students, she was a Dancer in Collide Project Oswald in Nickle Theater at Mount Royal University, choreographed Flesh Mob for Obsidian Energy employees presented during Stampede, teach salsa classes for VERSUS Apartments and she was first coach in Calgary who prepared Waltz choreography for wheelchair dance couple presented on Rocky Mountine Dancesport Grand Prix in 2014 and in 2016 in Vancouver Grand Prix. She is a member of Alberta Dancesport Federation. She had worked as well for Trico wellness center in Calgary as a ballet teacher and gymnastic coach since 2016. She is renewing every 2 years her First Aid/CPR card, as safety is very important for her. She did High Five Certification- Canada’s quality standard for children’s programs.
In 2019 she start working with Krakusy as a substitute coach. She introduced basics for Single Time Jive, Tripple Time Jive, line dance and polonez in older group and rock & roll, line dance and poleczka in younger group with plans for creating choreography for whole Krakusy Team by linking introduced Swing dances together. Ewa is dedicated coach opened for dance trainings and seminars, as now she consider dance not as a career, but as a responsible life path, which develops human being and allowed her to share dance love and knowledge with others.
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.