Vinok Ukrainian dancers carrying on tradition

Both in the community and surrounding areas, group keeps traditions alive through dance

Colton Mackedenski (l), and Ruby Chegwin present a wheat sheaf and bread to Shari Leshchyshyn (l) and Nancy Drul.

The Hoolobka Dance Group put Ukrainian culture and the celebration of dance at the forefront in Rossburn, and since 2007 that tradition has carried on under the banner of the Vinok Ukrainian Dance Group. Seventeen members, ranging in age from four to 18, hail from Rossburn, Vista, Shoal Lake and Solsgirth.

The name Vinok aptly suits the club, as it’s a headdress made from leaves, flowers and branches worn by girls and young unmarried women, and remains a part of the Ukrainian national costume, worn on festive occasions, holy days and as part of the costume for dances of the Poltava region.

Under the direction of head instructor, Carson Luhowy, a Grade 11 student at Rossburn Collegiate, assistant instructor, Nicole Shaw, a Grade 10 student at Birtle Collegiate, and choreographer, Nicole Higgot, the club once again had a successful year of showcasing intricate movement through dance.

“Ukrainian dancing is so enriching, inviting,” said Kelly Luhowy, secretary treasurer of the club. “The vibrant costuming, along with the various types of music and steps make it a pleasure to watch.”

This year’s spring concert focused on dances from central Ukraine, in particular the Poltava region. The costumes for the dances of this area include a blouse, a vinok, a plakhta (girl’s skirt), a poyas (belt), sharyvary (men’s loose trousers), and red boots. Ukrainians believed that life should include both red (the colour of joy) and black (the colour of sorrow).

“The art of embroidery has been something we have not been able to tap into,” said Luhowy. “Our most recent purchases of costuming have come directly from Ukraine and are extremely detailed. The costs of costumes can become high and therefore we do fundraising and through generous donations such as from the Rossburn Lions Club we are able to purchase costuming that is true to the regions that the club is presenting.”

The Vonik group is active in the community and area, going to personal care homes to entertain residents, performing at the National Fly Fishing Championship Banquet in 2017, participating in the Marquette Festival of the Arts, and Yachminka Ukrainian Dance Competition in Russell. The group has also been represented at the Troyanda Dance Competitions in Brandon and Kalyna Dance Competitions in Yorkton in 2016 and 2018.

Dancers look up to their instructor, Carson Luhowy, who was chosen as the recipient of the Cheremosh School of Dance Mountain Camp award to be held in Jasper, Alta. this summer. His selection was not based on the highest dance mark but an individual who shows the love of Ukrainian dance. The club also received an award for its Novice Group at the Russell competition.

The Vinok Ukrainian Dance Group, through work and dedication, has enriched lives of countless families over the years.

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