Anthony Middlekamp performs the Povzunetz, a traditional Kozak dance, in preparation for Canadian Mosaic: Celebrating Canada’s 150th May 28 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre. (Photo submitted)

Dancing for Canadian diversity

Sadok Ukraine Dance Ensemble is inviting dance groups from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds

This year, Vernon’s Sadok Ukraine Dance Ensemble decided to do something a little different — and decidedly Canadian — for their year-end dance theatre performance: they invited dance groups from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds from around the Thompson North Okanagan to join them.

“We’ve always invited other dance groups to join us – other Ukrainian groups from Kamloops and Kelowna, the Celtic dancers of the Argyll School – and this year, we thought why don’t we really celebrate and invite a whole range of cultural groups to perform?” explains Andrea Malysh, artistic director of Sadok.

Joining Sadok Ukraine Dance Ensemble in Canadian Mosaic: Celebrating Canada’s 150th May 28 at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre are Argyll School of Performing Arts, Aviemore School of Highland Dance, dance2fit Classical Indian and Bhangra dancers, Hula Haleu Ke Aloha Polynesian dancers, Kala Afreen Bollywood Dancers, Pokotillo Ukrainian dancers, Vernon Chidori-Kai Japanese Dancers, and Vernon Filipino Dancers.

“One of Sadok’s main aims has always been to share our Ukrainian Canadian culture with others,” says Malysh. “For Canada’s 150th, we wanted have dancers from several different ethnic communities in the Thompson-North Okanagan to join us to celebrate the diversity of this country.”

Joining all the different groups of dancers will be special guest fiddler Vic Ukrainetz of Kelowna, “Because, come on, who doesn’t like fiddle music?” jokes Malysh.

The seeds of this multicultural showcase were sown two years ago when Malysh joined with Janet Hackman, the Creative Director of Argyll School of Performing Arts, to create dance performances that were an fusion of Celtic and Ukrainian dance.

“It was so fun and rewarding to bring these two cultures together through dance that we wanted to do it again — and to invite more groups to join us,” says Malysh.

Joining Hackman and Malysh in creating a multicultural opening dance are Loveleen Kaur and Melanie Piorecky, bringing influences from classical South Indian dance and Bhangra, traditionally from Northern India.

“When Andrea and I first choreographed together, we found out how many similarities there were among the differences of Celtic and Ukrainian dance traditions,” says Hackman.

“As we work with Loveleen and Melanie to weave in elements of Bhangra and south Indian dance as well, it’s apparent that there’s so much common ground in our diversity.”

Canadian Mosaic: Celebrating Canada’s 150th runs at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre May 28 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available for $25 for adults, $22 for seniors, $20 for students, and $10 for preschoolers from the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.