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BIOGRAPHY of the
UKRAINIAN DANCERS OF MIAMI

 

Metelytsia
 

The dance troupe known as the Ukrainian Dancers of Miami is a group of youthful Ukrainian-Americans, ranging in age from 2 to 50+, who learn and perform traditional Ukrainian folk dance. They perform year-round across the state of Florida at festivals, cultural programs, schools, and many other shows. Rooted in the dances and techniques of Vasyl Avramenko, the man credited with bringing Ukrainian folk dance to North America, the Ukrainian Dancers of Miami continues to perform many of his classic works in addition to more contemporary pieces choreographed by current Dancers and others. Like the corporation which oversees them, the Dancers are dedicated to the promotion and perpetuation of the Ukrainian culture through its music, song and dance.

The Ukrainian Dancers of Miami was formed in the late summer of 1949 by a group of young Ukrainians led by Taras Maksymowich, Kay Hodivsky, and Olga Maksymowich. During the following years, the group held dance practices as needed for the various community festivals and functions at the Ukrainian-American Club of Miami. By 1956, when the first Club building was completed, the Dancers finally had a permanent home, and Taras and Kay were able to expand the repertoire and size of the group, and the Dancers were performing all over South Florida. By 1961, the group began sending Dancers to cultural workshops at Soyuzivka which eventually were strictly for dance, and those who participated returned after the summer with renewed enthusiasm, greater skill and fresh ideas. By the 1970's, Taras and Kay began delegating instruction and choreography responsibilities to these Dancers, most notably Taras Hodivsky, Yurko McKay, Hanya Lotocky, and the group's current Artistic Director, Donna Maksymowich-Waskiewicz.

Today, the Dancers include more classical dance elements in their work while retaining the character of the traditional Ukrainian folk dance. The group's repertoire includes not only many traditional Avramenko dances, but newer and more complicated dances, including their own Hopak. Since the birth of "A Ukrainian Montage", the group has presented several modern, more interpretive pieces, but always pays tribute to the early traditional folk dances where it all started. In today’s shows, you see a range of dances originally choreographed by Avramenko himself, by Roma-Pryma Bohachevsky and Elaine Oprysko, and dances choreographed by current and former members of the Ukrainian Dancers of Miami including Hanya Lotocky, Yurko Mckay, Karyn Maksymowich Wilk and Donna Maksymowich-Waskiewicz. Of course, choreographers would have nothing without the composers, arrangers and musicians whose music inspires their steps.

From the beginning, the Ukrainian Dancers of Miami have been dedicated to promoting their Ukrainian heritage through dance. Since 1949, the Dancers have been able to bring the Ukrainian dance all over the state of Florida in a wide variety of venues, including: EPCOT Center's World Showcase in Walt Disney World, nationally televised Junior and Senior Orange Bowl Parades, The Miami International Folk Festival, Orlando ArtsFest, St. Petersburg International Folk Fair, the 1992 UNICEF Tribute to Children, and continue to make regular appearances at St. Joseph's International Fall Festival in Port Charlotte, the Cornucopia of the Arts, Oktoberfests at the American German Club of the Palm Beaches and in Pompano, the Dade County Youth Fair, and the annual Children’s Resources Musical Gala fundraiser. They can also be seen at various events throughout the year in South Florida, and at the beginning of their 51st season, performed for the first time outside of the state of Florida--at the Ukrainian National Association’s Soyuzivka Estate in the Catskills of New York.

The Ukrainian Dancers of Miami, Inc. is a not-for-profit organization, and ALL funding and services are achieved solely through donations and volunteer work. The Ukrainian Dancers of Miami pledges its commitment to educate their own and all others in the traditions of their ethnic heritage, and to keep alive the beautiful legacy of the Ukrainian dance.

 
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