It’s Going to be Crazy – Shumka on the Toronto Ukrainian Festival Main Stage

Founded in 1959, by members of the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, Shumka is probably the best known of Canada’s 230-odd Ukrainian dance groups and schools. It has toured Canada and the world, and most recently visited Toronto during their ‘Shumka at 50’ national tour. They will come to the city once again in September this year to help launch this year’s Toronto Ukrainian Festival in Bloor West Village. In an interview with Jurij Klufas of Kontakt TV, which will be aired on the OMNI channel shortly, Paul Olijnyk, one of Shumka’s many dancers, spoke about the dance company’s anticipation at dancing during the Ukrainian Festival.
Shumka has been practicing three days a week in order to produce the “best possible show” for the Toronto crowd which will be a daunting task since they will be performing at the largest Ukrainian street festival in North America. But Olijnyk isn’t too worried since Shumka is known for entertaining their audience. Their shows represent their ancestral Ukrainian heritage but also the heritage of Ukrainian-Canadians. The show will try to “weave story telling within [the] dances” so that the audience can “feel their Ukrainian ancestry”. This will be different from the stage show they put on at the Sony Center in 2011 which was more theatrical, original and contemporary.
Shumka’s performance will be an added feature to the Festival line up which includes everything from bandura players to local Ukrainian dance schools to the main headliners this year – Ukraine’s TiK. But Shumka will be a draw for many who come to experience the festival, because, as Paul notes, they will entertain everyone from those sitting in the beer tent to those wondering about the street.
The 21-member company will be sure to put on a big show that will represent both Ukraine and Canada beginning with Shumka’s Welcome Dance or “Pryvit.” This 15-minute introductory dance will incorporate the traditional bread and salt element that welcomes the audience to the show but will also incorporate 15 different Ukrainian regions and end off with a “crazy hutzulka”.
Apart from working hard to make their Ukrainian Festival debut the most talked about event during that weekend, Shumka has been hard at work this summer preparing a “busy season” that will include a stop in Vancouver. Their more recent project will be a production about the life, travels and struggles of Taras Shevchenko since it is the 200 year anniversary

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