Children’s dance across borders during the Festival of the Children of Mountains in Nowy SĄcz, Poland
Since 1992, the town of Nowy Sącz in the Małopolska Province, Poland, has been a host to the International Festival of Children’s Folk Ensembles Festival of the Children of Mountains, which every year takes place in the last week of July. Amongst a multitude of children’s folk festivals organised all over the world, this one stands out as a unique event through its inimitable approach to the variety of cultures that it brings together in the form of a veritable melting pot. There is no other festival where cultures could come as close to each other as here, as one of the major rules of the festival provides that the 12 participating ensembles are paired up to form Polish-foreign couples that spend time, practice, perform, play, have fun, learn new dances, do sports and travel together. This idea affords young people an invaluable opportunity to come into unmediated contact with foreign cultures, different traditions, customs, religions and outlooks on life as well as other people. No structured or pre-planned activity organised by adults could make for such natural, spontaneous and unconstrained cultural exchange between little dancers and musicians as the period of eight festival days during which children representing Polish and foreign cultures share accommodation, a dining hall, a community room, a playground and a stage.