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polonaise(pŏl'ənāz`, ō'–), Polish national dance, in moderate 3–4 time and of slow, stately movements. It evolved from peasant and court processions and ceremonies of the late 16th cent. and was later used by J. S. and W. F. Bach, Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Liszt. Chopin, exiled from Poland, expressed his patriotic fervor in 13 polonaises.
(1) A stately, processional ballroom dance in ¾ time. Of folk origin, it became a court dance in France and other European countries in the 16th century. Examples are found in the suites and partitas of J. S. Bach and G. F. Handel and in works by W. A. Mozart, L. van Beethoven, C. M. Weber, and F. Schubert. The polonaise was extensively developed by F. Chopin. Other composers who wrote polonaises included M. K. Ogiński, O. A. Kozlovskii, K. Kurpiński, H. Wieniaw-ski, Z. Noskowski, and L. Rózycki. M. I. Glinka, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, P. I. Tchaikovsky, and other composers used the form in their operas.
(2) A stately instrumental or vocal dance-song in ¾ time. The composer Kozlovskii wrote polonaises, mainly to texts by G. R. Derzhavin, including Let the Thunder of Victory Resound.