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Ukrainian Dance pays tribute to culture

Spreading colourful Ukrainian heritage across the province

STURGIS - Members of the Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club are proud of its heritage and honour the ancestors by keeping the tradition of Ukrainian heritage dance going in the local communities.

Eric Sliva is the club's instructor and teaches classes every Tuesday at the Sturgis Multi-Complex with 18 students. Out of the 18 dancers seven are beginners, five are returning dancers and six are adult dancers.

Some of those students performed at the Tavria 30th annual Dance Festival in Regina on March 11-13 at the Performing Arts Center. Members were judged on their performances and a score was given the groups.

Maycee Johnson, Lily Beatty and Lindy Romanchuk performed a Transcarpathian dance which scored them 89 per cent and silver medals. They also danced a Poltava dance where they were scored 84, good enough for bronze medals.

Allie Babiuk and Eva Romanchuk danced a Hutzul for an 89 per cent, earning silver medals. The duet also performed a Bukovina dance where they scored 85 and received silver medals for that performance.

Eva Romanchuk danced a solo to a Volyn dance that scored an 85 per cent and a silver medal.

The club will be hosting its spring dance on April 24 at the Sturgis Composite School. This will be the first time for the event after a two-year break due to COVID-19.

“The dancers and parents are all really excited to be able to get back to performing in front of an audience,” said Sandra Johnson, club president. “Throughout the break, the dancers had still been able to attend classes with video performances recorded for competitions. We currently have 12 children and six adults enrolled in the club. Two-years ago would have been the club’s 40th anniversary but we were unable to host any event in acknowledgement. We are hoping this year to acknowledge this milestone.”

Lillian Steranko was the original founding member of the Stenen Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club. In 1980, the dance school was formed with Steranko as chairperson; Maureen Lisoway, secretary and treasurer; Sharon Secundiak as costume coordinator and Lorna Brodziak as advisor.

As the years went by the dance club performed at the Mother's Day concert but also participated in dance competitions and even sang Ukrainian songs and danced at a local talent show.

Ukrainian language classes were taught by Steranko, and to enhance the language program other traditional Ukrainian customs were introduced that included Ukrainian dancing. It started out with small enrolment but proved very popular and led to the organization being formed.

Formal Ukrainian dancing began in 1979 with the assistance of Lorna Brodziak, Steranko and Marianne Washburn. The dancers performed for the Stenen Christmas concert and at a Mother's Day program in the spring.

The club still performs at local senior homes, local events, competitions and at the annual spring concert where they pay tribute to founding members and Ukrainian culture.