Alexandra Holyk for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.
This is the dance school’s second online show since the start of the pandemic
Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School, based in Mississauga, Ont., is expected to showcase its second virtual year-end concert on May 28.
Under the auspices of artistic director Fedir Danylak — who has held the position for 24 years — the school will feature recorded videos of its dancers taken during online Zoom classes over the past month.
“[Barvinok’s year-end concert] is a celebration of the success of students, a celebration of the success of the community and a celebration of the Ukrainian tradition,” Danylak said.
According to Danylak, the 52nd annual performance is dedicated to the parents, grandparents and guardians who have supported Barvinok and encouraged their children to participate in the online classes, in an effort to carry on the traditions and customs of Ukrainian dance.
With the virtual concert, Danylak said he wants “to prove to everybody that stayed with us that they are really heroes” and show the school’s appreciation for dancers that attended online classes despite the lack of in-person interaction.
Dancers ranging in ages from 5 years old to well into adulthood will be performing in the show. There will also be a raffle prize draw for a 55-inch TV donated by Hrycyna Law Professional Corporation, as well as “guest appearances” from some of the Barvinok family’s “newest additions.”
A link to view the performance will be shared with community members closer to the date of the show.
Before the pandemic, Barvinok was named to be one of the largest Ukrainian dance schools in the world, with more than 425 students enrolled. Even with the switch to online classes, Barvinok still has approximately 250 dancers participating on Zoom.
The dance school was also expected to go on a trip to Europe with some of its eldest dancers in the summer of 2020, before realizing that the pandemic would prevent that from happening. Instead, Danylak said he was able to bring Barvinok to international festivals and competitions by submitting videos of prior performances and was proud to see the positive feedback and recognition for the dances.
“Instead of going anywhere, I was trying to expose our school, our dance ensemble, everywhere possible, so the people will remember that [Barvinok is] here, we are still alive and we are still functioning,” Danylak said.
Since the start of the pandemic, things haven’t been easy for Barvinok, its executive team, or team of instructors and assistants.
“It is very hard to keep kids involved in something when they’re not in-person,” said Oksana Tkaczyk, president of the Barvinok executive team. “I give it all up to Fedir and our instructors and assistants because they have been the ones that have been able to keep the kids focused and…excited and keep them loving Ukrainian dance even though they can’t be in-person.”
This hard work from the dancers as well as their teachers will be seen in the virtual performance, put together by current and former Barvinok dancers Aleksa Gobosz and Andrew Sudyk.
“I think it’s very important [to have a year-end concert] just because all these students, assistants, artistic director and executives put so much time and effort throughout the year to [teach] us,” said Gobosz, the year-end concert project manager and current Barvinok dancer.
“Students and children are encouraged to show off what they learn [and] be proud of who they are,” she added.
Sudyk, who was a dancer with Barvinok for more than 10 years, said he wanted to take this project on because of the positive feedback he received from his contributions to last year’s virtual concert, as well as Barvinok’s 50th anniversary concert in May 2019.
This year, Sudyk said he calls himself the “put-it-together guy,” working with Gobosz to ensure the show highlights each dancer in the video clips and runs smoothly overall.
“We’re trying to implement as many features of a traditional concert this year [as possible],” Sudyk said, referring to the live “premiere” of the concert at 7 p.m. EDT on May 28, similar to how in-person performances would usually take place.
“I can’t say it’s the same as a physical performance, but it’s definitely the collective effort of the dancers, parents and instructors that made it possible,” he added. “Physical or not, it should be good.”
Both Gobosz and Sudyk recall memories growing up in the Barvinok family and said they recognize the importance of being involved in the dance school’s community, as well as keeping up their Ukrainian traditions.
“[When] my parents [were] growing up, it was really hard to be Ukrainian in the countries that they lived in. So I feel that it is my job to continue those traditions and things they weren’t able to easily do back home,” Gobosz said. “Because I’ve never been to Ukraine, I’d like to carry on what I’ve never seen, what I assume that culture and tradition is and have a taste of it here in Canada, thousands of kilometres away.”
Danylak echoed the importance of community-building and explained that he tries to maintain a relationship with Barvinok alumni who have gone on to have their own children now enrolled in the dance school.
“It’s important because we never lose that root of Barvinok as a family…especially nowadays, it’s very important to have that connection,” Danylak said.
Though it is not clear what the new academic year will look like given the ongoing public health restrictions, Danylak and Tkaczyk said Barvinok is hoping to return to in-person dance classes in September 2021.
“If we are given the green light from the government that organizations can open up and start doing in-person practices, then that is exactly where we’re going to be,” said Tkaczyk. She added that Barvinok is currently looking for a location to hold dance classes in, large enough to fit the entire school.
Registration for the 2021-22 school year begins on June 6 and will be running for two weeks. To find out more about Barvinok and how to support the school, visit Barvinok’s website and/or contact Danylak or Tkaczyk.
Addressing the community members, Danylak said: “Thank you for believing in Barvinok. Thank you for understanding that what we do, we do altogether…It’s important for our children, the new generation of the Ukrainian community.”