Daniel Bartchouk for NP – UN.
On August 20th, 2019 the Hamilton-based Ukrainian dance group Chaika performed at Disney Springs at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
The group got up on the Disney Springs stage at noon in the notorious Floridian heat, and gave the audience an experience in Ukrainian folk dance.
Dressed in the traditional Ukrainian song and dance attire, the different age groups took turns performing their routines in front of a growing, curious crowd.
There were 38 performers/dancers and two live musicians. Along with the performers, 55 family members joined the ensemble on the trip. This enabled the families to turn this into an incredible and memorable family vacation.
It was a new experience for many of the dancers, as the last performance trip to Disney had been over a decade before.
Mandy Wyrcunaga, the Chaika chairwoman, who did most of the planning for the trip stated; “Over the years I have heard many stories of past Chaika trips and it was so special to me that these memories have always remained in my husband and sister-in-law’s hearts many years later. My seven year old son has been with Chaika for four years now and over those years, the group has not gone on an out of country or large “away” peformance trip. When looking at our older students, I realized that almost every one of them has never had an opportunity such as an away trip. Although Chaika performs at many locations throughout our area, a trip of this caliber had not been offered in approximately twenty years.”
Even the Ukrainian Church in Orlando promoted Chaika’s performance within their Floridian community forum.
“It was a great time,” says intermediate member Sasha Bartchouk. “It was exciting because people from all over the world were watching us. They probably have never seen Ukrainian dance before, I’m happy we had the opportunity to show them, especially at Disney. I hope they liked it.” Most of her cast mates shared the same view.
“It took a lot of preparation but it was absolutely worth it in the end,” Mandy concludes. “Watching our dancers on stage smiling and dancing in the Florida sun and heat was spectacular! I have even heard some dancers describe their experience on the Disney stage as magical—and that is exactly what this trip was meant to be!”
The group, the only ensemble in Ontario that has live music accompaniment, also performed at the Toronto Ukrainian festival this year and in 2018. Best of luck to the dancers in their future performances.