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Janice Huser photo
Janice Huser photo
The Shevchenko Ukrainian Dancers in Glendon performed a number of dances for a sold-out crowd on Jan. 18, at the Glendon RCMP Hall. Holding the bread at the beginning of the performance is Kassidy Doonanco and holding the wheat is Carson Doonanco.
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Shevchenko and Shumka dancers perform for sold-out crowd

Jan 21, 2014 11:30 am | Janice Huser

This year’s Malanka celebrations in Glendon signified a milestone for the community, as those in attendance celebrated the event’s 40th anniversary with plenty of Ukrainian dancing and food.

“In this day, it is hard to keep traditions alive,” said Janice Voltner, president of the Glendon Shevchenko Ukrainian Dance Club, as she addressed a sold-out crowd of about 400 people, on Saturday night at the RCMP Hall. The 40th anniversary “shows that this little community-based group has worked hard to maintain the Ukrainian culture and celebrate Malanka with all of you,” she added.

The first Glendon Malanka celebration took place in January of 1975. Malanka is the celebration of the Ukrainian New Year, and in Glendon it has always included Ukrainian dancing, explained Mike Krywiak, the founder of the event.

After hosting a number of very successful Malanka celebrations, the Glendon event inspired similar Malanka events to be held in the area.

“It’s nice to keep the Ukrainian tradition,” says Krywiak, who has seen the event change throughout the years, and is also proud to be the event’s emcee. He added that on Saturday night, people were lined up at the door an hour before the event began so they could get the best seats.

The Shevchenko dance club has nearly 30 members this year, and Voltner says she is proud to see the club continues to grow. Voltner herself has three daughters who participated in Saturday’s performance.

For the past three years, Brenden Kuzma has been leading the club as head instructor, and has taken the club to “a whole new level.”

After supper, the local dancers impressed the audience with their traditional Ukrainian dance routines. Although the children and teenage dancers received much applause, it was the group that followed that received an even louder appreciation from the crowd.

Kuzma, along with his fellow dancers from the Shumka dance company took to the dance floor, in honour of the 40th anniversary of the Malanka event. The Shumka dancers are Canada’s only professional Ukrainian dance company and are based out of Edmonton.

The Shumka dancers performed three dances, Bukoyna, Zakarpatti, and Hopak, and offered the community a level of dance that is very rarely seen in Glendon.

“This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for this community,” said Voltner, after the performances wrapped up. She added that it’s important for people to take time for family and maintain traditions.

She further described the Shevchenko dance club as “a family within a family,” and pointed to the physical, emotional, and mental benefits of being involved with the club.

As president, Voltner is clearly dedicated to the club, and encourages anyone interested to learn more about the Shevchenko dancers.

“Everybody needs a little bit of Ukrainian in their life,” she says.

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