June 23rd, 2024

Ukrainian dance performance to showcase culture, support and unity

By Lethbridge Herald on May 24, 2024.

Lila Nelson holds a traditional Ukrainian sunflower while rehearsing this week with Liam Shular, Nestor Semyraz and Lev Bogard at the Multicultural Centre, ahead of “Glory to Ukraine” by the Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club set for Sunday at the Yates. Herald photo by Justin Sibbet

Justin Sibbet – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

As the sound of bombs dropping across Ukraine still rings out, one Lethbridge group is looking to bring attention to the conflict in their ancestral homeland through the power of dance.

Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Club opened its doors nearly 30 years ago, but as the current dance season ends, a final hurrah is planned at the Yates Memorial Theatre for this Sunday. 

This year, the overall theme and title of the show is “Glory to Ukraine”. Dean Mackedenski, ensemble artistic director with Troyanda, says the name brings tribute to the European nation.

“We’ve gone with the title of “Glory to Ukraine” just to try and highlight the war that’s going in Ukraine and bring some attention to the conflict there and show our support,” said Mackedenski.

He says it may appear trivial to be dancing while combat rages across the world, but the message is still important.

“Why dance when you know the country is at war? It’s not so much a form of celebration, but more in a show of support and a way to express our culture and showcase our unity,” said Mackedenski.

The daughter of one of the founders of Troyanda and now a current instructor, Anastasia Sereda, says a show of unity is more impactful than perhaps initially perceived.

“Cultural identity, heritage, arts and culture are more important than ever and preserving that, and promoting Ukrainian culture is one of the most important things to do in a time like this,” said Sereda.

She has been dancing in the traditional Ukrainian style since she was a child and this has given her the opportunity to pass on her culture in unique ways.

“I think it’s a great way to connect with your cultural heritage,” said Sereda. “I find that I take a lot of pride in my Ukrainian heritage, primarily because I’m so proud of dancing. So, passing it on and giving that opportunity to children is really special to me.”

Troyanda has dancers in all stages of life, with some not even in school yet.

“We’ve got kids as young as four-years-old and right up to our adults, we call them timeless because you can never be too old or too young to dance,” said Mackedenski. 

Furthermore, he says Troyanda’s show encompasses every corner of Ukraine.

“Every region of Ukraine has their own specific dance, costumes, music, style of steps. So, the concert is going to be a representation of all the various forms of Ukrainian dancing and Ukrainian regions,” said Mackedenski.

He says a number of new Ukrainian immigrants have recently joined Troyanda after leaving their worn-torn homeland and events like this help them remain connected to their past.

For those interested in attending, the show will be held at 2 p.m. at the Yates Memorial Theatre on Sunday.

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