Baba Katarina (Andrea Malysh) dreams about Australia in the Sadok Ukrainian Ensemble’s new dance theatre production

Baba Katarina (Andrea Malysh) dreams about Australia in the Sadok Ukrainian Ensemble’s new dance theatre production

Baba says ‘g’day’ in Dreamtime Downunder

The Australian Aboriginals have often referred to “the Dreaming” as a time when their natural environment took the form of mythic beings –– often in the shape of humanized animals.

Although she is from a place seemingly far removed from the land Down Under, a Ukrainian baba is about to have some powerful dreams of her own when the Sadok Ukrainian Dance Ensemble presents its 12th anniversary theatrical dance production at the Vernon Performing Arts centre, May 29.

Entitled Dreamtime Downunder, the production  has been choreographed and written by Sadok’s artistic director Andrea Malysh, who also plays Baba Katarina, a recurring character from previous Sadok dance productions.

In Dreamtime, Baba becomes distraught when her daughter decides to marry an Australian.

“The show goes back to the days of the early Ukrainian settlers. They didn’t go on holidays or travel, they worked. The next generation was different, they were travelling and taking holidays, and the older generation would ask, ‘why are you not working?’” said Malysh.

“I relayed this experience a little bit to that of my mom and my husband, who is Australian… I remember her saying, ‘It’s great you’re dating my daughter, but you’re not taking her to Australia.’”

Malysh, however, did move to Australia with her husband, Scott Chatterton, where she directed a Ukrainian dance group, and eventually they moved back to Malysh’s hometown of Vernon, where she started Sadok.

Her husband and two children now dance in the group, and Chatterton has been polishing his Aussie accent to play the son-in-law in Dreamtime Downunder.

In the production, Baba starts to have dreams not unlike the aborigines, where strange creatures come to life from dancing koalas and kangaroos to a frilled-neck lizard.

“It’s part of the dream, and in it it’s explained to her that there are a lot of cultural similarities between the Australians and the Ukrainians,” said Malysh.

“The Ukrainians didn’t just go to Canada and the new world, they went all over the world. There was a large immigration in post-World War Two where they went to Australia. The biggest difference between the Australia-Ukrainians to that of the ones that came to Canada is they immigrated from different regions.”

Malysh had the most fun finding the similarities between the two cultures.

“In the production, my husband plays the didgeridoo, while baba comes to him in her dream, and she brings out a trembita, a large horn from the Carpathian mountains,” said Malysh. “There’s another scene where he’s making damper, and Baba asks, ‘now what you are doing?’ When he tells her he’s making bread, she goes out and comes back with a beautiful braided Ukrainian bread.

“She’s so proud of her heritage, she doesn’t understand there are other cultures too, while he has his own culture, but is respectful of (Baba Katarina’s.)”

In the end, the great divide –– as vast as that from the Carpathian Mountains to Ayers Rock –– becomes a little closer.

Dreamtime Downunder takes place at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre Sunday, May 29 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 seniors/students, and $10 for preschoolers at the Ticket Seller box office, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.