Magdalena Solarz, Artistic Director, Choreographer

Magdalena Solarz, an alumnus of Poland’s Folk Theater, immigrated to Chicago in 1974 and immediately became involved in the activities of the Polish arts community. The impetus for this was her family tradition - her famous grandparents Zofia and Ignacy Solarz are today described in the Polish encyclopedia as cultural activists in the peasant movement, and founders of Poland’s first Folk University.

Ms. Solarz continues the work of her grandparents in Chicago as Founder and Artistic Director of the WICI Song and Dance Company. In her work with the ensemble, Ms. Solarz has reached the highest achievements possible for a company comprised entirely of volunteers. As a result of her elevated standards and artistic talents, Ms. Solarz has been highly acclaimed in both the Polish and American communities.

Her most prestigious personal triumph is being the recipient of one of Poland’s highest honors, the Gold Cross of Merit, which was recently conferred upon her by Poland’s Past President Kwasniewski. This decoration was bestowed in recognition of her achievements in promoting the artistic, cultural and educational values of the Polish tradition in the field of music and dance throughout the U.S.

Her other personal achievements include the following:

Personal Achievements

• Is a Master Teacher listed with the Illinois Arts Council in its "Arts-in-Education” program, and the recipient of several Master-Apprentice Grants from the Council

• Was one of a select group of accomplished Chicago women honored for their achievements in the Polki 2000 – Chicago exhibit displayed at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago in 2001

• Is the recipient of numerous civic awards and recognitions from U.S. President George W. Bush, Chicago’s Mayor Daley, State Treasurer Judy Baar Topinka, and Governors Jim Edgar and George Ryan

• Annually named Master Choreographer of the largest annual folk dance concert in Chicago, the Gala Concert of Polish Saturday School Dance Ensembles sponsored by the Polish National Alliance, which this March featured 500 performers

• Invited to serve as the Artistic Director of the PNA’s Youth Jamboree, an annual summer folk dance workshop for visiting dance ensembles from North America

• Choreographer of Hollywood composer Wojciech Kilar’s 2006 concert “Ardor and Prayer” at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall

Professional Acomplishments

Her professional accomplishments with the WICI Song and Dance Company are unrivaled. Its unique success includes the following artistic résumé:

• Recipient of the First Place Award at the 2006 Krakowiak Festival of international children’s and youth folk ensembles in Krakow, Poland

• Guest appearances with the Twin Cities Ballet in performances of The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and Coppelia, choreographed by Alexander Bennett of Scotland’s Royal Ballet

• Guest appearances with the Glenn Ellen Opera in productions of The Bat and The Gypsy Baron

• Guest appearances with the International Music Theater of Chicago in Poland’s greatest national operas, including Moniuszko’s Halka and Straszny Dwor, and the operetta Ksiezniczka Czardasza by Theodoro Cottrau

• Longstanding cooperation with the Polish American Symphony Orchestra and Choir in venues including Chicago’s Orchestra Hall

• Representation of the Polish community in greeting Polish President Lech Kaczynski during his historic visit to Chicago in 2006

• Representation of the Polish American Congress at its annual banquet for guest speaker and founder of the Solidarity movement Lech Walesa

• Theatrical productions including Lucjan Rydel’s Betlejem Polskie

• Musical revues including the Great Carnival Show with Poland’s celebrity singer, Andrzej Rosiewicz

• Participation in the opening ceremonies for the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

• Recipient of the Ethnic and Folk Arts Program Grant from the Illinois Arts Council

• One of only two Polish arts ensembles appearing in the special TV feature “Polish Artists in Chicago” by Channel 7; also featured many times on Chicago’s TV Channel 7 and 11, and in ethnic TV programs

© 2008 WICI Song & Dance Company
of the Polish National Alliance.
All rights reserved.