Local performers raise funds for Ukraine

Stand with Ukraine concert brings community together

Oksana Preachuk is a member of the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, one of several groups performing at the Stand with Ukraine benefit concert on April 3. (Supplied photo)

Russia’s brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has left some Winnipeg residents scared, horrified and searching for answers about whether or not their family members and friends are safe.

Many businesses and organizations have raised funds or collected items to send over to Ukraine, and some have more directly joined the fight.

The Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble decided to step up.

“Manitobans have so many personal ties to Ukraine, whether it be that their families immigrated in years past, they immigrated themselves or they have family still living in the country,” Carina Romagnoli, chairperson of the Troyanda board of directors, says. “When the invasion happened, we all felt it deeply. So many of us feel helpless from here and want to do anything we can to help.”

“When the devastation hit Ukraine, our creative director, Jennifer Doroniuk, contacted me, and we agreed we needed to do something to help our ancestral homeland,” Romagnoli says.

The Troyanda Ukrainian Dance Ensemble created the Stand with Ukraine benefit concert that will take place on Apr. 3 at the Seven Oaks Performing Arts Centre. All proceeds will go toward the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal, launched by the Canada-Ukraine Foundation and the Ukrainian Canadian Congress.

“I don’t think there are enough words to say how much these concerts and fundraisers mean to me. In such a dark time for us, it’s so heartwarming to see people come together and work so hard to help Ukraine,” Oksana Preachuk, a local Ukrainian dancer, says.

Preachuk has danced with Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, another group set to perform at the Stand With Ukraine concert, since December of 2016.

“Rusalka is performing our pryvit (welcome dance) called Kalyna at the Stand with Ukraine benefit concert. The dance portrays the ladies as a Kalyna bush and the men as soldiers of Ukraine,” Preachuk says. “The soldiers are lifting the Kalyna bush back to its former glory, just as they (and all Ukrainians) have lifted Ukraine out of hard times in the past and present.”

The show will also include performances from the Hoosli Ukrainian Male Chorus, O. Koshetz Ukrainian Choir, Lyra Ukrainian Music, Sopilka Ukrainian Dance School, Selo Ukrainian Dancers, Romanetz Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Vitretz Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and Zoloto Ukrainian Dance Ensemble.

“My favourite part of Ukrainian dancing is how connected it makes me feel, not only to my culture, but to the people I’m dancing with and the audience I’m dancing for,” Preachuk says.

Preachuk had the chance to travel to Ukraine in July 2019, the summer before the COVID-19 pandemic limited travel opportunities.

“It was everything I could’ve imagined and more. Being part of the Ukrainian community in Winnipeg is one thing, but to be fully submerged in Ukrainian culture in Ukraine was an unbelievable experience,” Preachuk says.

“There has been an overwhelming response from the Manitoba community. The first show at 3 p.m. sold out within 2.5 days, and when we announced a second, (the) 7 p.m. show sold out within 23 hours. A livestream of the event is being offered,” Romagnoli says.

The Stand with Ukraine benefit concert will stream live on April 3. Tickets for the livestream are available for $20 via bit.ly/34VsWov.

Published in Volume 76, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 23, 2022)

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