Celebrating 40 years of Ukrainian dance

Members of the Veselka Dancers perform pryvit

Members of the Veselka Dancers perform pryvit

Ukrainian dance is a family affair for many local families.

“People in the late ’50s and ’60s used to get together as a social event,” said Wendy Swan, past-president of the Veselka Dancers and co-ordinator for the Victoria group’s 40th anniversary celebrations this weekend. “Sometimes there would be dancing, sewing or embroidery – and there would always be food.”

Eventually, gatherings evolved to a point where they created a formal dance school, and in 1971, Veselka – it translates into English as “rainbow” – was born.

Initially, one of the group’s main focuses was to teach children of Ukrainian heritage the steps their parents and grandparents learned and to keep the tradition going. The dancers performed at Folkfest as well as competed and over time developed a quality reputation as entertainers.

That quality was on display recently at the B.C. Ukrainian Cultural Festival in Mission, where Veselka came away with 11 gold medals in 11 categories.

This Sunday (7 p.m.) at the McPherson Playhouse, Veselka is showcasing its art for the public. The show, choreographed by Lisa Hall, will feature dancers of all ages performing traditional and modern Ukrainian dances.

Tickets are $15, available at the McPherson box office, 1 Centennial Sq. For more information about the show or the dance school, visit www.veselkadancers.com.

editor@oakbaynews.com