Studio Olijnyk – The School of Fairy Tales

Victoria Dupak as the Evil Queen

Daria Bajus for New Pathway – Ukrainian News.

Creativity on a stage is complemented with one thing – a passion for the arts. And the students of Studio Tm Olijnyk have just that.

On June 16th, parents, siblings, and grandparents gathered at the Plast Huculak Centre for the premiere of “Казка, якої не було,” also known as, “The Fairy Tale That Never Happened”.

Original songs and choreographed dances were paired with incredible costumes and stage props, while children as young as five enthusiastically performed for the audience.

A bunny, played by Alexandra Poterukha, was bewildered in a forest when she found a book of fairy tales. While looking through it, she realized she did not know what story she belonged to. Throughout the hour she met Little Red Riding Hood along with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, only to be disappointed every time. Finally, Koza Dereza helped her find not only her home, but her purpose as well.

With a standing ovation from the crowd, founders Larysa Bajus and Halyna Cechowska joined their students on stage for words of thanks, followed by some tears.

Bajus and Cechowska are alumni of the Kyiv National University of Theater, Film and Television. Bajus, the host of Forum TV, is the drama teacher as well as playwright for the school. Cechowska, member of the musical group ‘Pid Oblachkom’, is the music teacher. To them, meeting in Canada was fate and creating the studio was a no-brainer. The school is named in honour of their beloved teacher Leonid Artemovych Olijnyk who taught them both during their studies in Kyiv.

“We did not know each other in Ukraine,” Bajus said. “It just so happened that we studied years apart with the same professor at the same university. Our teacher was very loved and respected, and therefore there was no discussion over the name of the studio.”

Bajus and Cechowska describe the studio as one of its only kind in all of Ontario.

“We wanted to create something new and different,” said Cechowska. “In the community there are different dance, vocal and bandura groups, but nothing like this. In a theatre school, children sing, dance, and develop acting skills all at the same time.”

Bajus and Cechowska established the Studio in 2010, and began registration organically with family and friends.

“At the time, the Plast Huculak Centre was just purchased, and we rented it out, “ Bajus said. “Our first group had only 15 children. These were our children and children of our friends.”

Although the first couple of years saw great success, both Bajus and Cechowska decided to take a break in order to focus on personal projects. They couldn’t stay away for long, however, and when they came back, the school took a turn.

“We reopened the studio and were faced with the fact that a lot of young children had registered,” said Cechowska. “When we started out, in 2010, the youngest actors were eight years old and now we have children who are four. We like to think that we are learning along with them and that we have started from the beginning.”

To date, Studio Olijnyk has put on over 10 productions. When asked how she comes up with an idea for each production, Bajus laughed and explained that idea comes later on in the school year.

“At first we get to know the children and discover their talents. Somewhere after three weeks, we begin to give out roles,” she said. “Often, we encounter the small problem of there not being a lot of Ukrainian children’s plays. And if there are, then it’s for a certain number of children. When you have 23 students and every child has to play a role, then you need to look for a way out of this situation. That’s when I sit down and start writing a new script given the ability of each child.”

The ladies stress that all of this wouldn’t be possible without the help of the Ukrainian community. They thank each other for their hard work as well as a number of people, including Liza Shainoga, Natalia Kolacz, all the parents and their sponsors. This includes the Buduchnist Credit Union, Ukrainian Credit Union, The Ukrainian National Federation and the Plast Huculak Centre.

When asked what they are most proud of in terms of their success with the studio, Cechowska said it’s the development of each child individually and in a group.

“We are proud of the fact that this is the only Ukrainian theatrical musical studio in Ontario,” said Bajus. “We named it in honor of our instructor who loved theater. He passed this love down to us and now we are trying to convey it to the children. We are glad that the children not only study the art of theatre, but they also have fun. Our school itself is a fairytale world!”

Studio TM Olijnyk invites children ages five and up to register for the new season, beginning September 24. There will be a repeat of «Казка, якоï не було » in October. You can find more information on their Facebook page: Olijnyk Studio.