Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Festival returns to full power with 20 clubs at EA Rawlinson Centre

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald A dancer from the Rushnychok Ukrainian Folk Dance performs during the Barveenok Ukrainian Dance Festival on Saturday at the EA Rawlinson Centre.

The Prince Albert Barveenok Ukrainian Dancers hosted their Dance Festival at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and saw the festival return to full glory.

Dancers from more than 20 clubs competed over the three days. Barveenok President Kayleigh Skomorowski said that the festival was full with 357 entries.

“(It’s) super exciting we have 25 or 26 different clubs from Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, from all over the place,” Skomorowski said.

“We haven’t had a festival this size since 2019. This is the first time it is fully back, last year was our first time back since COVID, but our weekend, unfortunately, conflicted with some other local festivals, so we made a really serious effort to avoid those conflicts this year.

“It’s been really good. It’s a busy weekend, but there’s so much energy. There’s so much just really good positive stuff going on.”

Organizing for the festival begins in September. The festival comes near the end of the dance festival season, which usually begins in March and goes until June with the big festival in Dauphin in August.

Skomorowski said having all of the dancers and their clubs together created great energy.

“It’s really good,” she said. “The atmosphere and all the kids and all the clubs together dancing, it’s just really great.”

The adjudicator for the weekend was Kaitlyn Kruk, who is based in British Columbia.

“(She is) phenomenal, just so good,” Skomorowski said. “The kids think she is funny. She’s super approachable. She knows her stuff. She’s been educating a lot, just like about the different regions of Ukraine, along with the steps. She’s been super open.”

With 25 clubs from across the prairies bringing up to 50 people with them, the EA Rawlinson was a hopping place. On Saturday, Skomorowski estimated that the event drew more than 1,000 dancers and spectators to the community.

The participants included three clubs from Saskatoon, two clubs from Yorkton, two clubs from Swan River Manitoba, the Meath Park and District Ukrainian Dance Club, the Nipawin Veselli Dancers, the Prud’homme Ukrainian Dance Club, the Hafford Cheremka Dancers, a club from Warman, the Verba Ukrainian Dance Club from Wakaw, a club from Sherwood Park, Alberta and private instruction dancers from Prince Albert, Edmonton and Saskatoon.

Skomoroski said the live stream on Facebook was also extremely popular with more than 1,000 people watching on Friday alone.

The event was also a cultural event with food and vendors in the concourse. Skomorowski thanked all of the volunteers and parents for making the three days run smoothly.