For half a century, the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble has been leaping across stages around the world.
It's celebrating with a 50th anniversary concert on Sunday October 27.
Patrick Kuzyk is a former dancer with Rusalka, and he now serves as a member on the board. He's not only excited by the fact the group been around for five decades, but that it's flourishing, too. "The group just returned from a tour of the Ukraine and in a few days they'll be performing on the stage of the Concert Hall right here in Winnipeg," he said.
Kuzyk's daughter Kathryn was on that tour. "It means a lot to the audience to see people from Canada trying to keep the Ukrainian culture alive," she said with pride. "There were even times when the audience members would give us gifts to show how appreciative they were. Seeing how important it was to them was really great for us."
While some of the audiences were small, others were huge. "There was one day we performed in Lviv on Independence Day to a crowd that was close to ten thousand. It was a spectacular turnout," explained Kathryn.
Joining Rusalka was a given for Kathrun. "My earliest memories were at picnics, or helping with costumes, that sort of thing. It's been a huge part of my life."
Patrick hasn't danced since 1989. He says back then, he lived to be on stage and to this day his closest friends are from that community. "And when you travel, people recognize Rusalka around the world. There's something special about that and it's really difficult to leave once you've experienced that."
Hear Patrick and Kathryn Kuzyk on Information Radio with host Marcy Markusa on Friday October 25 after the 6:30 a.m. news. Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble presents its 50th anniversary concert on Sunday at 2:00 p.m.the Concert Hall.