Lakeland College will be “overrun” by Ukrainian dancers in full festive garb from March 19 to 22 for the 10th annual Ukrainian Dancing on the Border Festival.
Organizers are expecting over 900 dancers from across Alberta and Saskatchewan, from Grande Prairie, Alta., to Yorkton, Sask., to attend the event, which will take place at the Vic Juba Community Theatre. Over 2,000 medals will be presented to dancers of all skill levels and ages, from three to 80.
“In Western Canada we’re one of the top festivals to go to. People seem to like to come to Lloyd,” festival co-ordinator Shelly Yacey said. “We barely have enough time for all of the dances.”
Every hour the dancers will be judged and awards will be given out. Dances run from about two to five minutes, with 30-second intervals between each dance and no scheduled breaks. Dances representing different regions in the Ukraine will be performed solo and in groups. The largest group will feature 51 dancers, although they may not all be on the stage at once.
Yacey says it will be four days of non-stop dancing. She says the festival has grown over the past decade.
“We started our first festival in 2006. We had 13 clubs and ever since then we’ve been hovering around 20 clubs coming in a year, about 600 people,” she said. “Last year, we were up to 25 or 26 and just around the 800 mark and this year we’re at 34 clubs.”
Fifty-five Ukrainian dancing clubs have participated in the festival over the years, with many of the groups being repeat attenders.
Along with the dancing, a Ukrainian trade show will be happening on the main floor of Lakeland College.
“We’ve pretty much overrun the main floor of Lakeland College,” Yacey said. “We’re going to have booths displaying our Ukrainian culture. There’s going to be something for everyone, from the simple chocolate bar from the Ukraine, to pottery, to clothing and we also have a lady coming who does Ukrainian Easter eggs.”
Putting on the festival and bringing in nearly 1,000 dancers is no easy task for Lloydminster Ukrainian Cultural Association. Its members will be working in shifts to keep the dances going.
“We’re a very small club, we only have 13 families who volunteer their time over the weekend,” Yacey said. “We’ve got a few extended families and or alumni members coming in. Everyone is going to average 12 to 16 hours of volunteer work.”
The Ukrainian Dancing on the Border Festival starts on March 19 at 5:30 p.m. and continues until March 22 at 4 p.m. at the Vic Juba Theatre. Tickets can be purchased at the door, $10 per day or $25 for a weekend pass.