Origins of Polka


While popularly associated as a Polish-American folk dance, the polka has its roots in Bohemia dating back to the 1830s.

"There's an excitement to the music that can't really be beat," said popular polka musician Jimmy Sturr, who will perform with his orchestra at the Colonial Theatre on Sunday.

According to an essay published by the University of Southern California, the polka started as a round-dance and gained popularity throughout Europe over the course of the 19th century.

According to the report, the word "polka" is believed to come from the Czech term for a Polish girl, or "polska," and the word "polka" in Polish actually means "Polish woman."

The United States version of the folk dance is different from its European origins. The USC report references six different polka styles that include Slavic, German and even Mexican polkas.

Lucy Flossic, co-host of "Polka Express" on WTBR radio, 87.9 FM, feels a universal appeal to the energetic, up-tempo music.

"I get compliments from people on the radio show, and there are people who are not Polish who listen," Flossic said. "There's one couple who are Italian, and they follow one band in particular, and they always listen in to our show. There are people who listen no matter what."


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