Dance Your Heart Away

Dance Studio JUMP


When most people think about dance they think of competitions or ballet which is not what Dance Studio JUMP is. JUMP is a Polish dance studio located in Chicago where dancers are taught multiple types of dance styles from Jazz, Hip-Hop, Ballet, Lyrical, Salsa and many more. There are performances twice a year, during the end of January and the beginning of June, where every other performance is either a story or a theme. They also perform at different types of events, such as picnics, Taste of Polonia, etc. It is a family business in which Ewa Barnak is the artistic director, her daughters Agnieszka and Sabina Barnak are co-choreographers and her husband, Wacek Barnak, is the music director.


It's the year 1989. The Polish political system is undergoing a metamorphosis, it's the fall of communism and totalitarianism. But it is also the decline of art and culture. People are tired of the struggle for existence, and the new system brings with it many unknowns. Under these conditions it was very difficult to hit a chord with young people and adults, because few wanted to go to cinemas, theaters or concerts. And that's when Ewa Barnak (then Ewa Boryczka) decides to set up a modern dance group, "Jump." Surprisingly, the new and yet unknown dance group immediately became the interest of the newspapers. Perhaps this situation spurred Ewa, because in June 1989 the dance group presents its premiere show. The play "Let's go crazy," was an attempt to integrate music, movement and light in different forms of dance based on the technique of classical dance and modern dance using elements of jazz and pantomime.

Effects exceeded all expectations and the prestige of the Jump grew. A year after the premiere of "Let's go crazy," the audience had the opportunity to watch another show - a rock spectacle of dance and music, "Hades." So after several attempts to reactivate Jump, this kind of artistic activity had to be postponed. But Ewa did not give up. After 6 years in the US, artistic activity began in the Polish Catholic School, St . Ferdinand. There, Jump was associated with the formation of dance, music and acting.

In 2006, together with many picnics and festivals, Jump also participated in the inauguration of a new study on American television on Channel 7, where it occurred along with stars from the US, proudly representing the Polish community. Jump presented itself to one of the most prestigious scenes of Chicago, Millennium Park. The group sang and danced their flagship song "Conquer." This was during the visit of the Polish President ,Lech Kaczynski, equaling about eight-thousand people in the audience. In 2007, Ewa and Wacek Barnak accepted the invitation to go back to Poland and perform on the Pope's Youth Day. There, Jump gave a two hour performance which was enthusiastically received!

Every year, the studio presents two new shows: "The Homeless Angel" , "Let's go back to the old days ", "Long, long , ago ... " and "The Snow Queen" are only a few recent titles, the delights of entertainment prepared by the studio. More recently, Jump is not only Ewa and Wacek but as well as their daughters Sabina and Agnieszka, who received an artistic education at Columbia College and have become co-creators of all the ideas.


A large majority of countries have their own set dance style that has been practices for many generations. Those that are very firm believers of traditional dancing don't particularly take well to dance groups that are more modern and are influenced by popular culture. One of the more notable traditional Polish dance groups is Polonia Ensemble, which is a Polish Folk dance group located in Chicago, Illinois. They have been performing traditional dances for over 25 years and have traveled to different locations around the world.

The problem that I see with only doing traditional dances is that you can't explore the possibilities of combining different styles and learning more than just folk/ traditional. Polonia has to the longest time disliked Jump because Jump doesn't do traditional Polish dances. They believe that anything but traditional isn't considered "real" dance but "real" dance is any type of dance. Even so, Polonia has been slowly transitioning and taking choreography from Jump, making is seem as if they're "experimenting" with differnt styles.

So the reason I think that people should "Jump" into popular culture rather than traditional dances is because either way everything will become mixed in the end. Groups that strictly stick to traditional or just any one dance style can become bored and eventually try different styles. So why not just try everything -- including popular culture style dances -- and go from there?