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Ukrainian dance camp offers culture and fun
Young Ukrainian dancers were offered a week filled with culture, dance and fun last week as about 25 children took part in this year’s Desna Dance Camp, hosted by the local Ukrainian dance club.
The camp is a newer event, having only been organized once before in 2011. The kids are “very keen on learning,” says Tannis Baerg, this year’s camp coordinator. Baerg believes it’s important to focus on Ukrainian culture and pass on traditions to the younger generations.
Although many of the children take part in Ukrainian culture at home, many don’t understand what those traditions mean, says Baerg.
“Everything in Ukrainian culture is a symbol,” she explains. And on Wednesday morning, children were learning exactly that as they painted eggs and were given the opportunity to explain what the chosen colours and symbols on their eggs meant.
Along with taking part in crafts and activities that taught the children about Ukrainian culture, the kids were also given three hours of dance instruction each day. A few of the children involved had never taken part in Ukrainian dance, and were using the camp as a way to gauge if they were interested in joining the club, says Baerg.
The break between the end of Ukrainian dance season in the spring and its start-up in the fall makes for a long off-season, says dance instructor Shane Gibson, as he took a break from instruction last week.
The camp offered dancers “a chance to come in and get the body moving again,” along with offering “a good cultural experience.” For most children, taking part in a three-hour session for five straight days is the equivalent of cramming nearly a whole season of dance into one week, says Gibson.
But “the kids love it. They want to start as soon as they get here,” says Gibson.
The other benefit of the summer camp is the fact that dancers get to dance with kids with whom they don’t normally socialize. The younger dancers learn from the older ones and the older ones get to mentor the younger children, says Gibson.
After a week of practice, dance, and learning about their culture, children also put on a mini-festival on Friday afternoon, showcasing what they learned and created during the past week.
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