Ukrainian dancers to be featured in The Nutcracker ballet

By Angelica Ingram

The Nutcracker ballet has become a staple performance for the community of Haliburton and this year a new and exciting feature is being added to the annual tradition.

For the first time the production put on by Heritage Ballet will feature two guest dancers from the Verba Ukrainian Dance Company out of Winnipeg.

Representing the company will be Jenn and Paul Doroniuk who will be doing an opening piece for each show and will dance in The Land of the Sweets number.

The idea to feature the Ukrainian dance pair came from the former Dusk Dances committee now called DH3 who have been working diligently to bring live dance experiences to the Haliburton Highlands.
“When Dusk Dances ended our committee still wanted to try to bring dance to Haliburton but not run big events” said committee member Lynda Shadbolt. “We wanted to add dance into existing events.”

The committee brought Japanese dance to the Festival of the August Moon and it was Shadbolt and dance instructor Maryssa Danilko who connected DH3 to Heritage Ballet owner Julie Barban and partnered The Nutcracker with the Ukrainian Dance Company.

DH3 stands for Dance Happens Here Haliburton and the committee was able to use funding that was made available for Dusk Dances prior to its commencement.

Barban is very excited about the feature element added to this year’s Nutcracker show and would love for more features like this in the future.

She describes Ukrainian dancing as a traditional style folk dance danced in a heeled boot and shoe.
Founded in 2011 with the mandate to collaborate in sharing the stories spirit and traditions of Ukrainian culture the Verba Ukrainian Dance Company’s repertoire combines the grace and athleticism of Ukrainian dance to immerse the audience in Ukrainian folklore according to their website.

“Verba has danced for the opening of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival among many other audiences” wrote Shadbolt in an email to The Echo. “In addition Verba is currently preparing to perform alongside Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Nutcracker this December.”

In addition to performing in the local production the guest dancers will be teaching a workshop for kids on Ukrainian dancing on Sunday Dec. 6 at the Heritage Ballet studio. The workshop is open to children ages eight to 11 (happening from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m.) and a second one for anyone over age 11 (happening from 11:15 a.m. to 12 p.m.).

“They’ll learn some traditional Ukrainian dance moves” said Shadbolt.
Now in its 12th year The Nutcracker ballet is performed every year in December at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion.

This year there are 80 dancers involved in the production age three and up.
Performance dates are Saturday Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday Dec. 6 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Cranberry Cottage in Haliburton and Pharmasave in Minden.
For more information on the dance workshop contact Barban at 705-457-1990.