In the fall of 2017 DH3 brought four dancers from the Verba Ukrainian Dance Company in Winnipeg to Haliburton to perform as part of the annual community performance of The Nutcracker. It is one thing to watch professional dancers perform, it is another thing to spend an evening dancing with them! We put together an evening of Ukrainian dance, music and food and called it Kolomyjka!
Kolomyjka, which started as a traditional music genre in the Ukraine, has been transformed in Canada by the Ukrainian diaspora into a social dance that is considered the highlight of Ukrainian weddings and dances. In a tradition started in Western Canada in the 1950's and '60's the dance begins with the participants turning the circle, usually counterclockwise, then clockwise, or by forming a spiral. As the dance progresses individual or small groups of dancers go into the middle of the circle and perform their favourite dance "tricks" involving lifts, spins, and high kicks.
With over 100 people in attendance, Michael and Johanna Chabluk and Paul and Jennifer Doroniuk from the Verba Ukrainian Dance Company, backed by two accordian players, coaxed 60 people of all ages onto the floor to form the circle and taught them a number of traditional Ukrainian social dancers. Before we knew it the room was whirling. It was a joyous evening.
We discovered that over one third of the people attending had Ukrainian ancestry!