YORKTON - The stage at Anne Portnuff Theatre was a whirl of spins and a blur of bright colours as the 19th Kalyna Ukrainian Dance Festival began today.
“We’ve had a two-year hiatus. It feels good to be back organizing and hosting people,” said co-chair Sheila Hyrniuk.
The return of the long-running festival certainly appeared well-received with 19 clubs and some 360 dancers taking part.
“I think people were ready to come back and participate in a festival with their kids dancing and have that experience,” said Hyrniuk.
Granted the 19 clubs was perhaps down a bit from the average of past festivals which has seen up to 28 clubs, Hyrniuk noted some clubs have not been dancing through the COVID-19 shutdowns, and this year the Yorkton event happened to fall on the same weekend as a competition in Saskatoon.
Hyrniuk said the 2023 festival has already been scheduled for the first weekend in May.
The Kalyna-hosted event was also only two-days this year as opposed to usually three.
“We’re just back into the swing of things,” she said, adding a slightly smaller event was just something they felt was more “comfortable” to do coming out of the two-year layoff.
The festival is of course being held with something of a cloud over people with roots in Ukraine as that country is at war with an invading Russian force.
Hyrniuk said she certainly saw people attending the festival wearing pins of support for Ukraine, and the Yorkton branch of Ukrainian Canadian Congress had a table at the event too.
“Our minds and hearts are with the people in Ukraine, with their struggle,” she said.