Ukrainian dance broadens its appeal

Zirka Ukrainian Dancers welcome their new artistic director, Amie Roussel

A new face, known in broader dance circles, has joined the Zirka Ukrainian Dancers in Vernon.

Amie Roussel, who many dancers know as the Showtime Dance emcee at Okanagan events like the Great Canadian Dance Challenge, ballet instructor at Aspirations Dance Studio (Kelowna) and now Accentz here in Vernon, has joined Zirka as their lead instructor.

“When our artistic director had to relocate to Alberta because of family issues, we were thrilled to find Amie, who has an extensive Ukrainian dance background,” said Danelle Sloboda, Zirka board member.

“Amie began training in Ukrainian dance in Alberta as a child and progressed to dancing at a high level by the time she was a teenager. She branched out a bit and explored more ballet, completing her RAD and Cecchetti ballet examinations. She also trained with the International School of Ballet in Paris as well as traveling through North America (Winnipeg, Toronto, Vancouver, New York and L.A.) as well as Latin America and parts of Asia to study culture and dance. Her path to Ukrainian dance again has been a circuitous one, as she has been teaching other styles for the past few years but we are happy to welcome her to Vernon.”

Zirka’s senior dancers have had a special chance to get to know their new instructor well, as most of them attended Red Boot Camp in Alberta for some intensive dance instruction, along with Roussel.

“For Amie, getting to know some of her senior dancers and reacquaint herself with the Ukrainian dance world, this was a perfect opportunity,” said Sloboda.

The dancers travelled to Alberta Aug. 18 to begin their intensive training in earnest the next day.

“Dancers have been studying Carpathian and Volyn dance and specialized technique during this week in Alberta,” said Roussel about the camp which finished up Aug. 24.

Zirka wants to invite new dancers to join their 35-year-old club this fall in Vernon and meet their new instructor.

“Our club offers one of the most inexpensive dance programs around for ethnic dance,” said Sloboda, “and we are so excited by the possibilities that Amie’s experience brings to us that we are inviting dancers to come and try out our classes free in September.”

Registration is on Thursday at the Vernon Community Arts Centre at 6:30 p.m. If you are interested, but cannot attend, you can visit the Zirka website at or call Sheila at 250-545-6050.

“We are looking forward to a great year of dance in Vernon for anyone interested in dance,” said Roussel. “My passion is working with people and revealing the great potential that lies within us all. You don’t need to be Ukrainian, only to enjoy dance and learning.”