Stephanie Bell is the new dance instructor for Zirka Ukrainian Dancers of the Okanagan, which has an open registration Sept. 7. (Parker Crook/Morning Star)

Zirka welcomes return of alumna

She cut her teeth with them in 1983, working hard to climb up the ladder

She cut her teeth with them in 1983, working hard to climb up the ladder before moving away in 1997.

After returning to the Okanagan last fall, Stephanie Bell is back in action with Zirka Ukrainian Dancers of the Okanagan, and she’s ready to give back to the group that showed her the ropes.

“I have the opportunity to give back to a group that helped raise me to be the person I am today,” said Bell, Zirka’s new dance instructor.

Zirka Ukrainian Dancers of the Okanagan, a not-for-profit dance group, was first established in 1979 to serve the community and represent Ukrainian culture.

“I began as a beginner in 1983 and continued through 1997 as a young adult before getting married and moving to Fort St. John,” Bell said. “During my last few years with Zirka, I took part in helping instruct beginners to intermediate levels.”

After leaving the Okanagan, Bell opened Tavolha Ukrainian Dancers in Fort St. John where she held classes for ages 3-12.

“I did this due to love for my culture and saw a need in that community for it,” Bell said.

Bell moved to Okotoks, Alta. in 2007, where she danced with Tryzub Ukrainian Dance School with the adult group until 2009, and it’s a passion that has passed on to Bell’s three sons.

“I continued my journey and became a dancer in the Tryzub Dance Ensemble from 2011-2013,” Bell said. “During these years, we danced at many company functions, such as Global Fest, Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra and travelled to Panama to take in community and festival dancing there, sharing our bright colours and culture.”

And it’s a love Bell is excited to bring back to the Okanagan.

Registration for Zirka Ukrainian Dancers of the Okanagan is Sept. 7 from 6 – 7 p.m. at the Vernon Community Arts Centre. Classes start Sept. 12 and run Tuesday mornings at Argylle Dance Studio for toddlers and Tuesday evening at Mission Hill Elementary gymnasium starting at 5 p.m. Interested parties are encouraged to drop in to registration and practices. For further information regarding registration, contact the organization at zirka.ukrainian.dancers@gmail.com.

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