For the first time since 2019, the Prince Albert Barveenok Ukrainian Dancers hosted their Dance Festival at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Saturday and Sunday.
Dancers from nine clubs were competing at the festival over the two days and Barveenok President Kayleigh Skomorowski explained said there was some adjustments to be made after so many years away.
“It’s been tough remembering how to do everything and we have a lot of people within our organization who have never been through this kind of thing before,” Skomorowski said. “We are just kind of trying to reorient ourselves to how it all works, but it’s very exciting.”
First time festival co-chair Marcia Coulic-Salahub echoed Skomorowski’s statement that it was great to be back.
“(It’s) a little nerve wracking but I have got a great team behind me,” Coulic-Salahub said. “They are fabulous with helping. Even people who have been here before that have actually been in these positions, they are a multitude of help and it’s just been fabulous with everything. It’s just so good to be back and dancing again and bringing Ukrainian dance back alive.
“We actually start in September just to get to this one weekend of three days, this happens to be two days, sometimes we have even been four days. It is just a lot of juggling but when you have the great team they seem to make it easy,” she added.
Coulic-Salahub explained that the festival comes near the end of dance festival season, which usually begins in March and goes until June with the big festival in Dauphin in August.
“We are glad to be back on stage and glad to be dancing and bringing the love of Ukrainian dance to the community of Prince Albert,” she said.
The festival ran over two days because it landed on a weekend with many festivals ongoing in the province. Skomorowksi said some dancers wanted to dance in more than once festival, so they scheduled their event for Saturday-Sunday, instead of Friday-Saturday.
The adjudicator for the weekend was Serhij Koroliuk, a choreographer based in Saskatoon The event’s Facebook feed was banned in Russia on Saturday and Skomorowski was the one to discover that.
“Our live feed of the festival, I went to go log on and start the feed again after one of our breaks yesterday (Saturday) and I got a big banner across our page saying ‘your feed has been blocked by the government of Russia’. I have never seen that in my life, I have never had a live feed blocked by a particular country or government,” she said.
With nine clubs from across Saskatchewan bringing up to 50 people with them, the EA Rawlinson was a hopping place. The participants included three clubs from Saskatoon, the Meath Park and District Ukrainian Dance Club, the Nipawin Veselli Dancers, the Zibraty Ukrainian Dance Club from Aberdeen and Prince Albert private instruction dancers.
The dancers also crossed many generations, according to Skomorowski. The dancers on stage ranged from three to 72-years-old. The event was also a Cultural event with food and vendors in the concourse. The food booth sold out of both borscht and cabbage rolls on Sunday.
“There are so many hands involved and if we didn’t have a group full of parents that are willing to volunteer their time there is no way that it would happen, so we are really fortunate to have engaged parents in our organization,” Skomorowski said.