Ada Dziewanowska was born and raised in Poland, learning the traditions and celebrations of the Posnania, Pomerania, and Kujawy countrysides. She learned Polish national dances in school.
With her writer / historian husband, Kamil, Ada came to the United States in 1947. For several years she taught Polish conversation at Harvard University in the capacity of the native speaker.
Ada studied dance at the Boston Conservatory of Music and from 1963 to 1972 directed and choreographed for the Krakowiak Polish Dancers of Boston, who were first-prize winners at the prestigious Rzeszów Festival held since 1969 for the world Polonia folk dance and song ensembles. Interestingly, Ada's children, Basia and Jaś, were also members of this ensemble. In 1979, the Dziewanowskis moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and since 1979, Ada has been the artistic director and choreographer of the Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble of Milwaukee. The ensemble, about 40 members strong, has some 13 suites, composed of either national or regional dances, each of which is performed in 8 to 12 sets of original costumes. Syrena has given concerts in the United States, Canada, Poland, and Japan. Ada instructs other Polish-American ensembles and American ensembles with international repertoire, arranging choreography, singing, music, and costuming.
Beginning in 1967, with Jaś as her partner, Ada has given numerous workshops on Polish dance and folklore in the United States, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Israel, Mexico, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Japan. The Dziewanowskis have taught at the top folk dance camps from the east to the west coast, including Ralph Page's New Hampshire Camp, the Herman's Maine Camp, and Stockton Camp in California. At the camps Ada is known for her enlightening and humorous presentations at "culture corners" and at the "talent shows."
Ada continues to research the dances and music of Poland and has a large collection of Polish folk costumes and folk art. In the course of her visits to Poland, she attained a certificate in dance instruction in 1979 from the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin.
Ada has received many awards including
Ada has contributed articles on Polish dance and folk customs in various folk dance magazines and Polish-American papers, such as the Ontario News, Mixed Pickles, NFO News, and Polish Heritage Newsletter.
Ada's main publication is her book
Ada and Jaś have collaborated on several fine recordings of Polish dance music which are available from your local dance recording outlets or directly from Ada herself. The latest are two 90-minute audio cassettes with music for the dances described in her book. The book and the cassettes have been sold all over the world.
On February 3, 2007, the Syrena Polish Folk Dance Ensemble presented their 20th Annual Masquerade Ball in honor of Ada's 90th birthday. The day was designated as "Ada Dziewanowska Day" with a lit sign atop the Milwaukee Town Hall tower. At 90, she continues to take classes in Mind Aerobics and Tai Chi, and serves vodka from Poland at the various dinner parties that she gives. She reads at the Holy Masses in the St. Anne's Chapel, organizes and sings at the International Christmas Choir, sells things in their botique (called the "Emporium"), and works at their Bazaar and Open House.
Dances Ada has taught include Ada's Krakowiak, Ada's Kujawiak 1 (to the tune "Na wierzbowym listku"), Ada's Kujawiak 3 (to the tune "Czerwone korale"), Ada's Kujawiak 4 (to the tune "Ida dwie dzxiewczyny"), Ada's Mazur, Ada's Polka Mixer, Ada's Polonez, Bośkany, Chodzony i oberek od Łowicza, Chodzony Kujawski, Ciardaś Spiski, Cieszyniok, Cieta Polka, Cygan, Czardasz Orawski, Czardasz śląski, Diobołek, Dzek, Fafur, Gacok, Gąsior, Gołąbek, Goralski, Grozik, Hej na moście, Jawornicki, Kaczok, Kaczor, Klapok, Kokotek, Kolomajki, Konik, Koseder, Kowol, Koziorajka, Kozok, Krakowiak, Krakowiak "Na Krakowską Nutę," Krakowiaki, Krzyżak, Krzyżok, Kucznierz, Kujawiak, Kujon, Kulawa Polka, Lasowiak, Lisek, Łowicz Oberek, Mach, Maruszka, Mazur, Mazurka Goleszowska, Mietlorz, Oberek, Oberek Lubelski, Oberek na Lewo, Oberek ogólnopolski, Od Buczka do Buczka, Okrąc so Wkół, Olender, Owieziok, Pofajdok, Polka Cięta, Polka Gwozdz, Polka Hurra, Polka Kucana, Polka Przez Nogę, Polka Suwana, Polka z Nogi, Polonez, Polonez Staropolski, Poniewierany, Powolniak, Przeworska, Przodek Szamotulski, Przytrampywanie na Grono, Rebacki Tonc, Rowny, Szpacyr Polka, Stara Baba, Sumieszka, Surok, Suwiec, Świniok, Szpacyr Polka, Sztajerek (Sącz), Sztajerek (Eastern Kraków), Stara Baba, Tramblanka, Tramelka, Trojak, Walc Rzeszowski, Walczyk Lubelski, Warszawianka, Wiwat "Ojciec Wielki," Wiwat Adoracyjny-weselny, Wiwat Karolinka, Wiwat z Posadowa, Wolnego (chłopa), Woltok, Wolny, Wołtok, Zabiok, Zajaczek, Zbojnicki, Zwodzony, and Żuraw.
Ada also taught children's games and dances, such as Grozik, Jawor, Lisek, Majdaneczek, Ojciec Wirgiliusz, Stary Niedźwiedź, and Szewc.