Founders

Essential to the story of the establishment of Cheremosh is that of its founder, Chester Kuc. As a child, Chester studied the violin as well as the piano. He became interested in dance in1939 when, at the age of 8, he trained under Vasyl Avramenko, the founder of Ukrainian stage dance in North America. An enthusiastic student, he began teaching dance himself in the 1950’s. During this time, the attitude of Ukrainian youth began to change. There was some dissatisfaction amongst the younger generation of Ukrainian dancers. To these modern and energetic young people, Avramenko’s dances seemed inflexible. Dancers began to demand livelier choreography and more variation in the dances they performed.

In 1969, the members of the Ukrainian National Youth Federation approached Mr. Kuc about forming a new dance company – one that accurately reflected their modernity and their strong pride in traditional Ukrainian heritage. This new group was the seed for Cheremosh, then known as Veselka. They were a bright, energetic gathering of 19 young people, all sharing the same passion for dance. Eventually, as enthusiasm grew, membership spread beyond the sphere of UNYF exclusively, and by 1972 Cheremosh boasted over 40 dancers.

The appeal of Cheremosh came largely from Chester Kuc’s approach to dance. Cheremosh did not aim to modernize Ukrainian folk dance. Instead, they strived to find dance idioms or complete dances containing kernels of truth about the Ukrainian people, and then worked to bring those dances to the theatre by making them dramatic and entertaining. Borrowing from the finest examples of folklore, the company recreated traditional folk tales and dances and returned them to the people as a reminder of their cultural heritage. In doing this, they contributed to the enrichment of the Canadian cultural mosaic.