Ukrainian Dance Festival a family affair

Kaydence Pellerin (left) and Abigail Hoegi (right) of the Prince Albert Barveenok Ukrainian Dancers perform during the opening day of the 2019 Prince Albert Ukrainian Dance Festival. -- Jason Kerr/Daily Herald

Alexandrine Bergeron can’t remember her first dance performance, but she can be forgiven for it.

After all, that first performance came three years ago, when Bergeron was just three-years-old. Now six, Bergeron is on well on her way to taking her place in what’s become a regular family tradition: learning Ukrainian dance. Her mother was a Ukrainian dancer who still occasionally helps out with the Meath Park and District Ukrainian Dance club, and so is one of her three siblings.

For Bergeron however, taking part in the annual Prince Albert Ukrainian Dance Festival is about more than that.

“I like being with my friends,” she giggles.

Bergeron’s story is a familiar one for the hundreds of Ukrainian dancers who descend on the E.A. Rawlinson Centre for one weekend a year.

She’s not six, but like Bergeron, Abigail Hoegi began dancing because of family members. However, she stays because of the people she meets on the festival circuit.

“My dad is Ukrainian,” Hoegi said when asked about why she started. “I just wanted to check it out I guess.”

Hoegi has been dancing with six years. She says it’s a bit nerve-wracking to take part in festivals like this one, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“Sometimes (I’m) nervous before and then happy when it’s done, because you find out your mark and then see how good you did,” she chuckles.

Nervousness typically isn’t a problem for Hoegi. In 2017, she won awards in three categories: two individual and one group. Besides, even if she doesn’t win, it’s the camaraderie afterwards that makes the festival worth attending.