About Our

Artistic Director

Henry Kurylewski

Born in Brisbane to Polish parents who emigrated to Australia following World War II, Henry's passion for dance emerged at the age of 10 after seeing the Polish State Song & Dance Ensemble MAZOWSZE perform in Brisbane in 1967 followed by appearances by the Polish State Song & Dance Ensemble ŚLĄSK in 1974, with both companies inspiring him to study Polish folk dance.

Graduate studies broadened his experience in the dramatic arts, and as a secondary teacher, he directed and choreographed numerous student productions including Godspell, Once Upon a Mattress, Grease, Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, Look Homeward, Angel, The Diary of Anne Frank, Our Town and Dark of the Moon. Also trained in classical ballet (Sandra Pincham School of Dance, Gladstone, and the Ashgrove Dance Studio, Brisbane), he has appeared in principal roles with BALLET THEATRE OF QUEENSLAND in productions of Coppelia, Les Sylphides, Les Patineurs and Aurora’s Wedding, and has given featured role performances in The Nutcracker, Peter Pan, Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. He has also appeared with THE DANCERS COMPANY of THE AUSTRALIAN BALLET in Giselle, with THE ROYAL BALLET in Swan Lake, with the PARIS OPERA BALLET in La Bayadere, with the BOLSHOI BALLET in Le Corsaire, and with AMERICAN BALLET THEATRE in Swan Lake.

More about Henry Kurylewski

In 1982, Henry founded OBERTAS and continues to be its Artistic Director and
Choreographer. In 1988, he traveled for the first time to Poland in order to study
and perform Polish folk dance first hand, and has subsequently returned a number
of times to further develop his knowledge of Polish regional dances. His
choreographic talent is in growing demand and he now travels nationally and
internationally to run national/character workshops for dance companies and ballet

Having been the Artistic Director of five of the last fourteen national festivals of
Polish Visual and Performing Arts known as PolArt (Brisbane 1988, Brisbane 2000,
Hobart 2006, Perth 2012 and Brisbane 2018), Henry is renowned for his spectacular
staging and extensive knowledge of and invaluable contributions to Polish folk
dance in Australia. In addition to his expertise in Polish folklore, Henry’s stagecraft
and artistry were acknowledged through his appointment as Artistic Director of
the inaugural Festival of Slavic Culture in Brisbane SlavFest, staged with critical
acclaim in 2017.

Henry has been appointed Folkloric Artistic Director of PolArt 2025, to be held for the first time in Wellington, New Zealand.

Awards and Achievements

Pro Patria Medal - 2021

To honor Persons especially distinguished in cultivating the
memory of the struggle for the independence of the

National Education Commission of Poland Medal -

For significant services toward Education and Youth

Polish Community Council of Australia Medal - 2009

For significant contributions toward Polish Culture in

Honorary Life Member - Polish Association of
Queensland - 2003

In recognition of outstanding service to the Polish
community through the promotion of Polish Culture in

Polish Consul’s Commendation - 2001

For significant contributions toward Polish Culture in
Australia through PolArt 2000.

Queensland Multicultural Service Award - 1999

In recognition of outstanding voluntary service and
contribution to the promotion of multiculturalism and
improved community relations in Queensland.

Polish Consul’s Commendation - 1999

For significant contributions toward Polish Culture in
Australia through Folkloric Song and Dance.

Poland’s Silver Cross of Merit - 1990

For significant contributions toward Polish Culture in
Australia through Language Education and Folkloric Song
and Dance.

The Molly Woodward Award - 1978

For significant contributions to Theatre at Kelvin Grove
College of Advanced Education.

Awards and Achievements

2021 - Present - President

Polish Association of Queensland “Polonia” Inc.

2020 - 2023 - President

Federation of Polish Community Organizations in Queensland Inc.

2019 - Present - Archive / Media / Website Coordinator

PolArt Inc. (www.polartinc.com.au)

2016 - Present - Secretariat / Executive Committee

Polish community Council of Australia

2016 - 2018 - Secretary

Polish Community Council of Australia
(www.polishcouncil.org. au)

2012 - 2015 - Head of Administration

Marist College Ashgrove

2010 - 2011 - Senior Service Management Officer

Brisbane Catholic Education Office - School Information

2002 - 2010 - Assistant Principal

St. Thomas More College - Administration

Polish Background Pattern