The Art of Cheremosh Gala celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company and treated over 1000 people to a spectacular evening of dinner, dance, music, and celebration.
On October 30, 50,000 square feet of exhibition space at the Edmonton EXPO Centre was transformed into an elegant, intimate space, with ambient lighting and table dressings in the Cheremosh colours of red and blue. The focal point was the impressive performance stage that rivalled the size of Edmonton’s Jubilee Auditorium. One guest enthusiastically remarked: “Wow! I can’t believe how beautiful the room looks. The displays, the music and the ambiance are just perfect!”
Between dinner courses, the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company presented the audience with world premieres of three new dances: Polka Volynianka, Kubans’ky Vyshan’ky and Rapsodia – Hopak in the Style of a Rhapsody. The dancers also performed audience favourites Edmonton Hopak, Bukovinsky and Women’s Tambourine, which featured animated video scenery created from specially commissioned paintings by Sembaliuk Cheladyn.
Throughout the evening, segments of archival video were presented, showcasing Cheremosh in concert as early as 1971. The videos included dance excerpts from every decade including an Edmonton show from 1977, Cheremosh at a dance seminar in Ukraine in 1981 and tours to China and Scotland. The videos also included interviews with previous Artistic Directors and members of Edmonton’s multi-cultural community.
A highlight of the evening was the performance of a specially commissioned overture by Malcolm Forsythe called Ukrainian Dances. This arrangement for brass band featured themes from several of the best-known Ukrainian dance melodies, from the lyrical to hopak.
The Mayor of Edmonton, Stephen Mandel, and Alberta Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky brought greetings from their respective governments. Andy Hladyshevsky, President of the Taras Shevchenko Foundation also brought congratulations.
The energy in the room was palpable, as alumni dancers caught up with old friends, patrons reminisced about past milestones, and friends and families enjoyed the atmosphere and energy of the dance performances.
Cheremosh’s founder, Chester Kuc remarked: “This evening was the highlight of my life!” What an inspiring way to launch Cheremosh into its next 40 years.