By: Anna Borowiecki, St. Albert Gazette. For the last 28 consecutive years, the Arden Theatre has played host to the Cheremosh Dance Festival. That’s almost as old as the theatre itself.
This year the four-day festival returns May 10 to 13 with groups from Alberta and Saskatchewan showcasing a sparkling display of athleticism, grace and footwork.
“It’s a great venue to have this festival. The stage is very good for our type of dances and the work crew is great to work with. The area also works well because there’s nearby restaurants for people to get food. Generally it’s a comfortable, professional atmosphere,” says festival board member Nick Doblanko.
Although the dancers compete as solo acts, in duos and group work, Doblanko believes the real focus is heritage.
“It’s more a celebration of Ukrainian culture and in particular the Ukrainian cultural experience of dance. It’s a way to relive tradition and do something our ancestors brought from the old country.”
Like many of the dancers in the company, Doblanko dances “to shape my identity and relive the traditional aspects of where we came from and what we do.”
Many in the semi-professional company, like Doblanko, feel fortunate to live in a country that allows them to celebrate their ancestral roots while forging a path for the future.
This year 327 numbers are listed. Organizers expect to give out 2,000 medals and a variety of scholarships in the $300 to $500 range.
The big finale is the two-hour Showcase of Stars where the brightest and the best unique styles and rhythms get a chance to once more strut their stuff.
Also joining them are about 40 semi-professional dancers from Cheremosh for two numbers including the dazzling Edmonton Hopak.
“It’s a classic hopak with Canadian influences as well as our Ukrainian heritage. It’s a modern day hopak.”