STURGIS — The Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club is in their 42nd Year of dance and “COVID-19 cheated us out of celebrating our 40th Anniversary in 2020. It also put this presentation on hold till we were all able to gather again at our annual Spring Concert,” stated Heather Gawrelitza, past executive member.
Gawrelitza was part of the executive for the 2019 to 2020 dance year when it was decided to retire the original Stenen Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club’s Hutzul outfits. It was then decided that a boy and a girl Hutzul outfit would be donated to the Sturgis Station House Museum along with a memory frame of photos in honour of the founding members and in recognition of the club’s 40th year of heritage dance.
She made the presentation during the Barveenok Ukrainian Dance club spring concert held at the Sturgis Composite School gymnasium on April 24.
“I would like to thank all the past dancers and parents that helped with the names. I would also like to thank Lydia Dzaman and Pat Prokop for the club photos. The history of the club was taken from Lillian Steranko’s write-up in the Ukrainian Dance Cook Book which was made in honour of the club’s 25th Anniversary in 2004,” said Gawrelitza.
“This has been a lot of fun for me and I have been in touch with many past dancers in order to gather the names. I went to school in Sturgis and loved watching the Ukrainian dancers perform.Brad and Blair Secundiak, Calvin Prokop, Peter Steranko and Benji Burym were a feature attraction for many years.
I hope you get a chance to see the museum display in the back corner of the gymnasium. There are many wonderful years of this dance club and I focused on the early years of 1984 and 1989.
“The club has a lot of history and it is so great to see it still going strong with all the young dancers today. It was also nice to see that the club was able to perform for our seniors in the nursing home in Preeceville. This to me was always the most rewarding performance for those seniors who are not able to come out to our Spring Concert. It was so great to see you all dancing again and the most exciting thing today was getting to see the adult dance group which I believe is a first for our club. I would also like to point out that some of our adult dancers are beginner dancers as well and would like to acknowledge our original Stenen Alumni dancers Jerilyn Radawetz, who currently dances with the adult dance group, and Mikaela Twerdoclib, who currently dances with the Norquay Dancers. It is great to see these ladies still dancing.
“It takes a lot of time and dedication for the dancers and the parents and we are very fortunate to have such great support from the Town of Sturgis and the Sturgis Composite School in providing a place to dance. I would also like to thank instructor Eric Sliva for coming back to teach again this year, it is awesome to see you back with the club again,” shared Gawrelitza.
This history on the club was taken from Lillian Steranko’s 2004 write up. Formal Ukrainian Dancing began in 1979 with the capable assistance of Lorna Brodziak, Lillian Steranko, and Marianne Washburn. The dancers performed for the Stenen Christmas Concert and performed a Mother’s Day Concert in the spring. In 1980, the Stenen Ukrainian Dance School was formed with chairperson Lillian Steranko, secretary-treasurer Maureen Lisoway, costume co-ordinator Sharon Secundiak, and Advisor Lorna Brodziak. The first instructors were Kathy and Charlene Brodziak.
The dance club performed not only at the yearly Mother’s Day Concert, but also participated in dance competitions and even sang Ukrainian songs and danced on Profile, a local talent show on CKOS Television in Yorkton.
Twelve years ago the club moved from Stenen to Sturgis and the name has changed, but the one thing that remains the same is we are proud of our heritage. We honour our ancestors by keeping the tradition of Ukrainian Dance alive in our local communities for all to enjoy.
“In 2020 the club was very proud to be celebrating our 40th year of Ukrainian Dance,” continued Gawrelitza. “We had dancers from Sturgis, Preeceville, Stenen, Endeavour, and Danbury. We looked forward to our Spring Concert when this presentation was to be made but sadly, due to COVID-19 the concert was cancelled. We did attend a dance competition in Regina before the province was shut down. Some of our dancers also performed in the nursing home in Preeceville for the seniors so we did get to see a few performances.
“The Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club in honour of our 40th year of Heritage Dance in 2020 is honouring our founding members Lillian Steranko, Marianne Washburn, and Lorna Brodziak in officially retiring the original Stenen Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Club Hutzul Outfits. The Hutzul Outfits are being donated to the Sturgis Station House Museum along with a club memory frame of photos. The Hutzul outfits were hand sewn by club member’s mothers and grandmothers. We know the museum will take good care of them and they will give many past dancers and parents fond memories of their years with the club. The museum display is set up in the back corner and you will be able to see it when you go for lunch.
“Sadly, the founding members were unable to be here today, Lillian Steranko still lives in Stenen, Marianne Washburn has moved to Alberta, and Lorna Brodziak lives in Saskatoon. I will be sending photos so they can see the memory frame and presentation to the club is in good hands and I would like to thank the dancers, parents, and current executive: president Sandra Johnson, vice-president Trudy Halvorson, secretary Tara Romanchuk, and treasurer Lorelei Karcha along with dance Instructor Eric Sliva for keeping the tradition of Ukrainian dance alive and well in our local communities,” concluded Gawrelitza.