KU’s Slavic club holds European orthodox celebration

Traditional Ukrainian dancers provide cultural entertainment

By Samantha Paine
Opinions Editor

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Performers at the celebration for the European orthodox festival – Photo by Samantha Paine, The Keystone

On Feb. 2, KU’s Slavic club held a celebration for the European orthodox festival, featuring traditionally trained Ukrainian dancers performing culturally accurate renditions of popular Slavic dances.

Performers from St. Mary’s traditional Ukrainian dance studio in Allentown, Pa. as well as members of the Kazka Ukrainian folk ensemble in Schuylkill County traveled to share their art with the students of KU. Accompanying the performers for several songs was accordionist Walter Milinichik, an experienced musician with knowledge of Ukrainian dance songs.

Paula Holoviak, a current KU political science professor, served as the master of ceremonies, introducing each dance and speaking briefly about their individual meanings and origins. She also participated in a few dances herself, leading her fellow female dancers.

The first dance performed was a traditional welcome, miming presenting the audience with salt and bread. Throughout the evening, the audience was entertained by culturally relevant dances, including those portraying logging and leatherwork, youthful flirtation, male athleticism, fieldwork of older women and the dances freedom fighters would use to stay in shape.

The finale, which Holoviak described as demonstrating that “when the rings on a wooden barrel break, all the fun is set loose.”

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European orthodox festival performers – Photo by Samantha Paine, The Keystone

After the performances, Holoviak asked that those who practice religion keep Ukraine and its citizens in their prayers, as they are currently facing the challenges of war.

The dancers posed for photographs together and with some of the children from the audience. Following the show, the club served Ukrainian pancakes to all who attended and performed.

Slavic club president Tinky Ding was excited to see the amount of people who attended and to share the culture she has learned to love with the audience.

The club generally meets for smaller events more often. According to Ding, at the typical Slavic club meeting, “We watch Russian films and listen to music, cook traditional Slavic cuisine and we share our stories with each other.”

Mary Theis, a Russian history professor and Doug Lea, a Russian language professor, serve as the faculty advisors of the Slavic club. Both were in attendance for the performances.

They have been planning a trip for the club to the Hillwood Museum in Washington D.C., which, according to the museum’s website, holds “collections of original and secondary materials related to Russian and western European decorative arts.” A date has not yet been determined for the possible trip.