Troyanda at 5 years
Troyanda at 10 years
15 YEARS OF HISTORY
PUBHLISHED BY : TASHA DIAMANT, TROYANDA MEMBERSHIP ALUMNI
Some of the tiny dancers who charmed Lethbridge with their little-little-big-steps in the 1990s are still with the Troyanda Ukrainian Dance club, which is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year—but they show off far fancier footwork these days. Anastasia Sereda, 22, has been with the club since its very first class. She is now one of the club’s instructor-choreographers and an accomplished all-round dancer. Tamara Sudar, 23, was a 12-year-old from troubled Yugoslavia for whom the club offered a transition into a new land and culture. Tamara has been a fiery performer in the Troyanda Ensemble for seven years. For these women and for hundreds of others, the club has been a home away from home, a community within the community.
The volunteer club was founded in 1994 by former Lethbridge resident Laura Korbett and many people in southern Alberta rallied behind her to get it going. When Korbett left town, Bev Mikalson took over instruction. Eventually Les Dutchak, a veteran Ukrainian dancer and teacher from Calgary, became dance director. He commuted to Lethbridge every Sunday from September to May for eight years. Today, Dean Mackedenski, one of many Troyanda alumni who have gone far with their dancing, makes the weekend trip as dance director. Dean’s weekday job is teaching Ukrainian dance in Calgary.
Says Cal Koskowich, a Troyanda dance dad, a senior dancer himself, and a longtime club member: “We’ve been very fortunate with our teachers over the years. The calibre of instruction has helped keep the club as vibrant as it is.”
Indeed, the club is a Lethbridge institution. The annual Malanka performance, dinner and dance is one of the highlights of the early social calendar in Lethbridge. Though founding member, Cheryll Oakes, says she misses the days when the club with the help of “the church ladies” at Holy Trinity Church actually made the Malanka supper (until 2002!), this year’s 15th anniversary Malanka did not disappoint anyone. The 400-seat house at Lethbridge’s senior centre was sold out early on and many observers called it the best Malanka ever. Vesna in early May, along with May performances for all the grade three kids who are learning about Ukraine in school, are also must-see events that are regularly sold-out.
David Howell, the dad of two young Troyanda dancers, says he couldn’t believe the first performance he attended: “The level of choreography and the quality of the costumes is incredible in a club of all volunteers. The commitment is amazing.” Troyanda owns $85,000 worth of costumes representing the different regions of Ukraine, mostly handmade by club members along with some imported from the source.
Troyanda members regularly perform at cultural events in the southern Alberta region, from Lethbridge’s Whoop-Up Days to Taber’s Cornfest and Fort Macleod’s Santa Claus Parade, the club performs dozens of times in a year. Club members also teach Easter Egg decorating and go door-to-door caroling for Ukrainian Christmas, complete with “Ukringlish” songbooks.
Tamara Sudar is one of many dancers in the club who has no actual Ukrainian heritage. “It’s not the point what your genes are,” says Tamara. “This has been a welcoming part of mine and my family’s lives since we moved here. I have grown in so many ways in this club and made so many friendships. The point is community and carrying on some beautiful traditions. I feel very lucky to have been part of it for so long.” And for those with Ukrainian backgrounds, adds Cheryll Oakes: “The experiences with the club do give the young dancers and families connection to their cultural heritage, which may be very distant. Through the club and the dancing, those with Ukrainian connections in the community get that benefit as well.”
Troyanda was initiated by a welcome letter
dated September 14, 1994 from Laura Korbett.
On November 30, 1995 Troyanda became a
ratified club which gave birth to what Troyanda
has become today.
Troyanda had it’s first performance for a parent
party performance on December 14, 1994.
The first egg decorating session took place
April 2, 1995.
Troyanda’s first Vesna was May 6, 1995 at the
Agnes Davidson School.
Just in that short of time costumes were made,
parents helped to form the club, and had only
been dancing on Wednesday evenings.
After the first Vesna the club added Club Social,
Canada Day, Heritage Day, and Whoop Days,
which all led to where Troyanda is today.