The 36-member strong Norquay Rosa Ukrainian Dance Club held its year end concert on May 4 at the Norquay Communiplex.
Featuring dances from six Groups, 1 through 5, and an Adult Group, the concert offered entertainment from the different regions of the Ukraine.
“On behalf of the Norquay Rosa Ukrainian Dance Club, I would like to welcome you to our annual spring concert,” said Tara Romanyshyn, who, along with Megan Peters, shared the duties as emcees. “Vitaemo!”
Describing the year as having been “exciting and extremely busy” for the Club, the first performance of the program, the traditional 'Pryvittania" or Ukrainian Welcome Dance, was performed by the Group 5 girls, Emily Livingstone, Megan Nystedt, Taylor Wasylyniuk, Jaxson Lindgren, and Kortny Wasylyniuk, accompanied by some of the Group 1 dancers, Layla Kish, Jordan Lukey, and Jordyn Killniak, presenting the bread and salt.
For Canadians of Ukrainian descent, whose ancestors came from the "Breadbasket of Europe” as Ukraine was known, bread is regarded as one of the holiest of all foods. In addition to the spiritual/religious significance of bread and salt, the round loaf of bread, or Kolach, is a symbol of eternity, and salt is presented as a symbol to preserve and enrich one’s relationships, as well as a wish that all the best flavour may be brought out in one’s life.
“This year we are pleased to once again have the opportunity to work with our instructor Serhiy Zabutnyy, who comes to us from Regina,” Peters said. “Serhiy brings a wealth of knowledge and creativity from his experiences as dancer and choreographer with a number of groups in Ukraine and Canada, and we are so pleased to have him working with our dancers. The dancers and their instructor have put together an impressive array of dances with choreography from the Poltava, Hutzul, Bukovina, Transcarpathian, and Volyn regions of Ukraine.
“This evening, you will have the opportunity to see a group of talented and hard-working dancers who have volunteered many hours of their time, both after school and on weekends, to develop their skills. In this, they have been very successful, but they could not have accomplished this on their own. This concert is not only a showcase of their hard work, but it is also a gesture of appreciation to their families and friends who have supported them throughout the year.”
The next performance was Group 4, Lily Kish, Reese Reine, Alexis Lindgren and Sarah Lukey doing a dance from the Poltava region.
“This very well-known sub-region lies in southeastern Ukraine, and is known for its dark, rich topsoil, slow winding rivers and fertility as far as the eye can see. The Poltava is one of the more popular forms of dance and one you will see most often performed by Ukrainian Dance groups. The costume from this area has become known as the "national" costume of Ukraine.”
Group 5 was welcomed back onstage stage to do a dance from the Transcarpathian Region.
Group 2, Gracelynn Peters, Emmarie Holinaty, Peyton Holinaty, Chesney Westerlund and Madison Auchstaetter, was introduced to entertain with the high and fast steps from the Hutzul Region. This region is located high in the Carpathian Mountains where the people had to adapt to the severe climate and limited living space. This is represented in the costumes with narrower skirts and pants and the rich colors and details used. Many steps are characteristically done in a tight up and down motion rather than wide side to side motion due to the small secluded areas in the mountains.
Next was Emily Livingstone performing a Transcarpathian solo, followed by a Buko by the Adult Group of Janel Erickson, Kimberly Gulka, Amanda Holinaty, Karlie Anne Kowalchuk, Megan Peters, Tara Romanchuk, Mikaela Twerdoclib and Nicole Wright.
To introduce the Group one performance, Romanyshyn said, “This is where it all begins, where the basic steps are learned, tentatively at first and then with growing confidence, and where the love of dance is born and nurtured,” as she welcomed Layla Kish, Jordyn Killniak, Bridgette Lukey, Serenity Lozinski, Jordan Lukey, Quinn Gazdewich, and Willow Tall.
Up next was Group 4 with a Hutzul, followed by Group 3 doing Poltava.
“The Poltava culture developed under many influences, one of the greatest being from the semi-military society of the Kozaks. Their love of social dances spawned the Hopak. The Kozaks influenced the strong acrobatic movements for the men, while the ladies display grace and beauty in their steps and movements. Please welcome Group 3 back to the stage with their Poltava dance.
“We now take you to Western Ukraine to the Bukovynian foothills for our Group 5 dance. This area is located in the transitional highland between Ukraine and Romania. Costuming for this region features a narrow silhouette with coins often being a part of the girl's costume, partially as an indication of a family's wealth (and therefore the possible size of the dowry), and partially representing the superstition that the jingling of coins would ward off evil spirits.”
Group 2 returned to do a Poltava, followed by a solo from the Volyn region by Alexis Lindgren, and Group 3 doing a Hutzul dance. Then Group 5 performed a Poltava followed by the Adult Group dancing a Poltava.
To finish the concert, the Kolomeyka was introduced. “This is one of the dances that our students look forward to all year. It is a chance to perform their favourite steps and dance with their family members and their friends in a joyous celebration. This takes enthusiasm, love of dance, and lots of smiles.
“Much organization and planning goes into running a dance group. We would like to thank the executive and all the parents for your continued support and enthusiasm in providing this opportunity for our children and community members to participate in the art form of Ukrainian Dance, and to share in the experiences and enjoyment of this part of Ukrainian culture.”
Door prizes were drawn throughout the performances, raffle prizes and 50/50 draw made, and a special presentation was made by Christine Lukey to Norm Griffin, Owner of Lone Wolf Logging of Kamsack, to gratefully acknowledge his generous donations to the dance club for this year as well as last year.
“These donations are greatly appreciated as they are integral to our club's ability to continue to present a high level of dance instruction as well as expand our collection of costumes for our dancers.
“We have been extremely fortunate to have the support of a number of individuals and businesses who have contributed a variety of items for door prizes, and acknowledge everyone who supported our club by purchasing raffle tickets.
On the weekend following the concert, the Norquay Rosa Dance Club participated in the Yorkton Kalyna Festival of Ukrainian Dance, held from May 10 to 12 in the Anne Portnuff Theatre, Yorkton Regional High School. This is an adjudicated dance competition which features hundreds of dancers from across western Canada.
The Rosa Group 2 took home gold for Poltava and Hutzul, and Group 3 took home gold for Poltava and silver for Hutzul.