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Living Arts Centre Hosts 20th Anniversary of Youth Festival of Ukrainian Dance

Feb 24, 2016 | Newpathway, Community, Featured, Arts & Culture

On Saturday, February 20, the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga yet again hosted a successful Youth Festival of Ukrainian Dance, which marked its 20th anniversary. The festival caused a big uproar since it featured dances from the largest dance schools of the area. Among them were:

Ukrainian Academy of Dance and the Arkan Dance Company, Artistic Director Larissa Szachrajuk,

Barvinok Ukrainian Dance School, Artistic Director Fedir Danylak,

Chaika Ukrainian Song & Dance Ensemble, Artistic Director John Hucal,

Desna Ukrainian Dance Company, Artistic Directors Yuri and Luba Grekov,

Ukraina Ukrainian School of Arts, Artistic Directors Lesia and Valeri Movtchan,

Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance, Artistic Director Tamara Tatuch.

The exceeding amount of participants for the first time in the Festival's history required guest choreographers, and the show, which was put together, left the audience in awe. The “Pryvit” dance, which opened the convert, was choreographed by Alexander Nebesny. The dance festival committee was delighted that Alexander was able to return to Canada to choreograph, instruct, and direct the performance of this dance. It incorporated dances from the Ukrainian dance schools Ukraina, Barvinok and Yavir, who performed together for the very first time on stage. Although Mr. Nebesny could not make it to see his work live, he sent his congratulations from Ukraine:

“Шановні пані та панове, від імені всіх танцюристів, художніх керівників та комітету фестивалю, дякую вам за вашу присутність. Отримуйте насолоду від концерту. Слава Україні!”

In addition to Mr. Nebesny’s work with the “Pryvit”, the final Hopak dance was staged by Serguei Makarov, a graduate of the prestigious Kharkiv Ballet School, Merited Artist of Ukraine, and male soloist for 17 years with the Virsky State Dance Ensemble. This dance showcased dancers from Barvinok, Desna, Ukraina and Yavir, sharing the stage and dancing side by side for the first time.

The history of the Youth Festival of Ukrainian Dance began twenty years ago, when in January 1996, Alexander Nebesny staged the first Youth Festival of Ukrainian Dance in Toronto. Four of the largest dance schools in the surrounding area had the opportunity to share the stage for an afternoon of dance performances and friendship.

The intent of the festival was never for it to be a competition, but to unite the dance schools, to give young dancers the opportunity to experience a theatre performance on a big stage and to perform for one day a year alongside other Ukrainian dance schools.
In 1993, Alexander Nebesny was appointed Artistic Director of Yavir and through it met Bill Hawryschuk. As Bill Hawryschuk said in his opening words, athough Mr. Nebesny did not speak English well, and Mr. Hawryschuk did not speak Ukrainian well, their cooperation began and flourished for many years. Together, they staged many concerts. To this day Bill Hawryschuk fondly remembers the first day of the festival with a feeling of pride for the work that they have done. “I am grateful that Alexander Nebesny asked me to work with him to stage the technical aspects of the event. It was something new and a big undertaking, but we made it work” recalls Bill Hawryschuk. The show went off perfectly.
With the coming years, the number of performers grew and in the year 2000 the festival outgrew the large auditorium at Central Technical School in Toronto. Since then, it has been staged at The Living Arts Centre. “We sincerely thank the great staff here at the LAC, and the always professional and accommodating technical and stage crew,” remarked Mr. Hawryschuk.

During the opening of this year's Festival, Bill Hawryschuk said: “Over the years, the festival committee has had several members come and go, but there were a few that dedicated 20 years to the success of the Festival and who will be calling this year’s festival their last. Among them was Mike Boyko – treasurer and administration, Myroslava Cummings – chairperson, Ivanka Podilchak, who has handled the festival administration.” But we can be rest assured that Bill Hawryschuk, Technical Director and Stage Manager, will continue working with LAC staff.

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