After several years of planning and postponed performances, the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers are returning to the stage to put on a series of performances across Canada.
“To see it with the space, with the sets fully assembled, with the costumes, with the light – you finally see the vision come together,” said senior creative director of the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers Les Sereda.
Dancers took to the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium for rehearsal Wednesday, ahead of official tour performances Thursday.
“The energy backstage is infectious,” said Ukrainian Shumka Dancer Courtney Basaraba. “We’re all just so excited to get the 60th show out there and to show our friends and family and the Ukrainian community.”
The group of dancers is celebrating its Canadian tour featuring performances of Mosquito’s Wedding, a story about a mosquito and a fly that get married, according to Sereda.
That performance will be followed by a screening of Shumka’s film Promised Land acknowledging the 130th anniversary of Ukrainian immigration to Canada and My Yeh/We Are, an emotional dance dedicated to the conflict in Ukraine.
“It was originally choreographed in 2014 when the war first broke out in Eastern Ukraine and we felt it was very proper to bring it back for this time,” said Sereda.
During their time off stage, Sereda says team members did a lot of soul searching in light of the unfolding conflict in Ukraine.
“Many of us have friends and family in Ukraine right now and it’s a challenging time,” Sereda said.
Shumka’s Canadian tour will give audiences the opportunity to support people impacted by Russia’s invasion. The dance group is accepting donations to Humanitarian Aid for Artists in Ukraine, an organization helping to keep fellow creatives and performers afloat during the crisis.
“This is our job, this is why we’re here to promote Ukrainian culture, to promote this independent nation that Russia is trying so desperately to erase,” said Sereda.
“If we can do our small part in just sharing who we are and sharing the love of a culture that we believe in, then maybe we’ve done one small bit of good in the world.”
For tickets and schedule information, visit Shumka’s website.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Amanda Anderson.