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Ukrainian dancers earn cheers from enthusiastic Canora audience

A total of 40 dancers took part in the concert, ranging in age from approximately three to 17.

CANORA - It started out as a highly anticipated Ukrainian dance concert and after the last number on the program, it turned into a Ukrainian dance party where it seemed like no one wanted it to end.

The 48th Annual Canora Veselka Ukrainian Dance Concert took place on May 5, with sisters Jenna and Carmen Stusek as MCs.

“As former Canora Veselka dancers we are honored to be here today,” said Carmen. “You are truly in for a treat as these dancers showcase all their hard work, the results of hours of Friday night practices. We remember those nights fondly.”

All the dancers gathered onstage for the singing of O Canada and Shche Ne Vmerla Ukraina (Ukraine National Anthem).

Throughout the program, the Stusek sisters shared numerous items of interest and humour related to Ukrainian Dance, including, “On average, the Ukrainian dance costume needs about 50,000 safety pins. If this number is too low, costume malfunctions may occur,” said Jenna.

A total of 40 dancers took part in the concert, ranging in age from approximately three to 17.

“As a club we always look forward to the opportunity to showcase our dancers’ hard work and dedication throughout the year through the concert,” said Cindy Wolkowski, president of Canora Veselka Ukrainian Dance. “We are so proud of our dancers beautiful and skillful performances and feel the concert was a great success.”

The audience responded enthusiastically throughout the program, including spontaneous bursts of applause for especially challenging moves.

“The community continues to show tremendous support for our club and dancers,” said Wolkowski. “Our dancers enjoy when the crowd gets involved, through clapping, cheering, whistling and so on. It gives the dancers instant feedback and an extra burst of energy when the crowd is invested in their performance.”

Veselka dance instructors are Serhiy Zabutnyy and Liana Zabutnyy.

All dancers took part in the Pryvit, or Welcome Dance. Senior Dancer Makayla Heshka presented the traditional Bread, Salt and Wheat.

During the program, duet Volyn dances were performed by Makayla Heshka and Jack Craig, as well as Maddy Dutchak and Rhianna Stefanyshyn. Joshua Prychak and Cassidy Wolkowski danced a Poltava duet, as did Greta Craig and her big brother Jack.

A Poltava was performed by the Novice group, the youngest dancers: Shiandro Danyluk, Weston Gogol, Emily Kondratoff, Daiana Blauva, Liliia Mazur, Vladyslava Panki and Zayda Slowski.

There are three groups of junior dancers. Junior 1 danced the Transcarpathian and Poltava and included: Paisley Mickelson, Kiera Owchar and Atlin Godhe.

Junior 2 performed the Polissia, Poltava and Hutzul: Kaydence Goulet, Jacob Prychak, Layla Keyowski and Olivia Owchar.

The Junior 3 group, which included Ethan Chabun, Drew Kitchen, Hannah Dutchak and Isabelle Kondratoff, performed the Transcarpathian, the Bukovynian, joined with the Intermediate 1 group for the Volyn, and with Intermediate 2 for the Mini Hopak.

There were a pair of intermediate groups. In addition to the Volyn, Intermediate 1 also danced the Hutzul and the Bukovynian and included the following group members: Reid Kitchen, Greta Craig, Madison Dutchak, Tessa Prychak, Jevon Keyowski, Mya Dutchak and Chloe Doogan.

Intermediate 2 performed the Bukovynian, and joined with the Senior group on a pair of dances, the Volyn and the Hopak. Group members were: Isabelle Chabun, Simon Craig, Maddy Dutchak, Cassidy Wolkowski, Danielle Dutchak, Joshua Prychak, Natalie Kosar, Rhianna Stefanyshyn, Liam Trask and Jordan Zbitniff.

The Senior group was made up of: Jack Craig, Makayla Heshka and Noah Prychak. They performed the Character Dance, in addition to teaming up with the Intermediate 2 group on the Volyn and the Hopak.

The Boys Group performed the lively and sometimes violent Sword Dance.

The Girls Group danced the Transcarpathian and also the Wreath Dance, a traditional Ukrainian Dance featuring a wreath worn only by girls who are eligible for marriage. Making the dance even more memorable, the mothers of the dancers placed the wreaths on the daughters’ heads, even though there was no indication that marriage in the immediate future for any of them.

Wolkowski said the concert was the official close to the group’s dance season.

“However, there are times when an organization will provide an opportunity for our club to perform outside of the dance season. The club will participate depending on dancer availability.”

Graduating Dancer Jack Craig was honoured during the concert for his hard work and willingness to be a mentor.

“We have watched Jack grow into a beautiful, talented and powerful dancer,” said Wolkowski. “He has made a connection with almost every dancer in the club, and they will miss seeing him and being able to dance with him on a Friday night. We wish him the best in his next chapter at the U of S studying engineering.”

Craig mentioned that he hopes to join a Ukrainian dance club during his time in Saskatoon. 

After the last performance on the program, past dancers in the audience were invited onstage to join the performers in an impromptu group Ukrainian dance performance, and it appeared that no one wanted the music or the dancing to stop.

“Our dancers enjoy being able to showcase their talents and love of dance,” said Wolkowski. “They probably would have danced all night if the music kept playing.”

She said there are many people involved in the continued success of Canora Veselka Ukrainian Dance.

“We are so appreciative to our dance family. Everyone is so willing to take on additional roles and tasks to ensure our concert and dance season is a success.

“Thank you to the community for continuing to support the club, through our fundraisers and concert attendance, and our efforts to maintain the Ukrainian culture and traditions though dance.”

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