Ukrainian dance supergroup

Razom 2 tour features the best Ukrainian dancers from across the Prairies

Over 100 of the best Ukrainian dancers from across the Prairies will be joining forces for Razom 2: A Fusion of Ukrainian Dance, which follows up the first successful Razom tour that took place in 2008 and 2009.

“This time it’s four cities involved with the performance instead of just three,” lead producer Darren Lemke says, who was also involved with organizing the first Razom and has danced in the past himself. 

“There’s also more collaboration. Last time only one group danced together, while this time there’s two big joint dances at the beginning and the end.”

“We took five years because we just wanted to give the different dance groups the opportunity to do their own thing for a bit, plus you don’t want to oversaturate the market by doing them too close together, either. The logistics can also be a challenge since we tour to the different cities and people need to get the time off from their other obligations.”

The four groups involved in Razom 2 are Winnipeg’s Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Saskatoon’s Yevshan Ukrainian Folk Ballet Ensemble, Regina’s Tavria Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and Calgary’s Tryzub Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.

Kevin Groot is a member of Rusalka, which participated in the first Razom tour.

“I’ve been dancing since I was four or five years old and I was overjoyed when I auditioned and got accepted into Rusalka in the first place,” says Groot, a 23 year-old University of Winnipeg student. 

“Getting in with them is seriously the best thing you can do. They’re really the top of the line when it comes to Ukrainian dancing in this city.

“Everything we do with this show is traditional and each dance will represent a different region of the Ukraine. We’ll be doing dances showcasing Polesia and Hutsul alongside combined dances with the other ensembles. The last joint dance is Virsky Hopak, which is with all the tricks and splits. All the guys get to show off their different artistic styles and do solos sort of like what would happen at a big wedding.”

Since the event brings together so many different dancers from three provinces, perhaps it’s fitting that “razom” also happens to be the Ukrainian word for togetherness.

“We all have the same goals no matter which city we’re from and that’s the preservation of Ukrainian culture through the medium of dance,” Lemke says.

“When we really started rehearsing in September, we didn’t really know each other, but now it’s like one big family and when we get together its good times,” Groot says. “Being able to meet these people from across Canada that are passionate about dancing, are able to dance and really want to dance is great.

“The friends you end up making is probably my favourite thing about dancing. I spend more time with my ensemble than I do with my real family.”

Published in Volume 68, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 19, 2014)

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