The Ballroom at the Eden Roc Hotel, enchantingly bedecked with large, vibrant bouquets on every table and soft, twinkling lights illuminating symbols of Poland and China, could have easily been a scene from the red carpet fanfare of the Oscars. Ladies wearing luxurious gowns and dazzling jewels moved gracefully under red lanterns, escorted by distinguished gentlemen sporting elegant tuxedos and regalia. This beautiful crowd of guests was attending the 44th International Polonaise Ball in Miami Beach.
Each year The American Institute of Polish Culture (AIPC was established in 1972 and is still presided over by Lady Blanka Rosenstiel) organizes this grand gala under the auspices of the Ambassador of Poland. The weekend long event brings prominent, accomplished and interesting people from all over the world. This year’s theme, “Enchanted by Ancient China,” showcased the culture and traditions of China and contributions Poles made in the history of this nation.
Among the honored guests were former President of Poland, Nobel Peace Prize winner and legendary Solidarity Leader, Lech Walesa; the Ambassador of Poland, His Excellency Ryszard Schnepf with his lovely wife, Dorota; Miami’s Archbishop Thomas Wenski; and the famous American actress, Loretta Swit.
The Ball commenced with emcee, Alex Storozynski, a Pulitzer Prize recipient for journalism and Chairperson of the Kosciuszko Foundation in NY, introducing the dancers for the stately Polonaise. Then Ambassador Schnepf welcomed everyone, and opened the awards program by bestowing the prestigious Amicus Polonaise upon the Mayor of the City of Miami, Tomas Regalado, for promoting cooperation between Poland and the US and his lifelong pursuit of national and personal liberty. Alex Storozynski presented President Walesa with the Kosciuszko Foundation Award for excellence, and emphasized how much we owe to Solidarity and its leader for opening the door to democracy and freedom, not only in Poland but all of Europe.
President Lecha Walesa conferred the Lech Walesa Media Award upon Cynthia Hudson, General Manager and VP of CNN Espanol. Ms. Hudson was deeply moved by this recognition and said that the role of Poland’s transformation to democracy is now the model for many Latin American countries. The Gold Medal, the highest recognition given by APIC, went to internationally renowned artist, Jerzy Kedziora, whose whimsical and gravity-defying balancing sculptures adorn major cities such as Berlin, Dubai and Miami. Lady Blanka also gave a Special Recognition to Ana Brajnovic, the director of Filary Club in Poland, whose mission is to empower young Polish girls and teach them solid values to live by.
After a delicious dinner with an Asian twist, the special entertainment was provided by the New Century Dance Company. The dancers in traditional Chinese garments moved on stage with much grace and liveliness, coquettishly twirling umbrellas and snapping fans with precision. Later they concluded the artistic portion of the Ball with an intricate ribbon dance, and good luck lions joyfully posturing on stage while martial arts warriors performed fluid and complex moves. The Polish Folk Dance Company from New York in richly hued traditional costumes also performed a lively Mazur.
Soon the entire dance floor filled with people moving rhythmically to the music of a 10-piece orchestra. There were light waltzes and pretty foxtrots, and the energizing rhythms of salsa and merengue so popular in Miami, as well as a DJ spinning current hits and favorite dance tunes.
As camera flashes flared, guests from around the world including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Scotland danced the night away!