Enter Kyiv, the final stop of our tour.
On Aug. 23 (day 13) — the Day of the National Flag — we had a workshop with the P. Virsky National Ukrainian Folk Dance Ensemble. That's right, Virsky, the group Ukrainian dancers look up to starting when they can put their hands on their hips. Troyanda, Sopilka, along with the Shumka School of Dance (the same group that joined us in Lviv) participated in a ballet warm up led by Valentina Vantuh, the director of the Virsky school.
After barre, centre work, and across the floors, we went to another studio in the building to watch the Virsky men's technique class. They blew us away. It's one thing to watch Virsky on video (check out this and this), but it's a whole other thing to see them up close and in person.
After watching the men perfect their tricks, we went back to our studio to learn the beginning of Virsky's Volyn dance. A few dancers from Virsky helped out during the choreography part, as well as the ballet warm up.
We also watched a rehearsal of Virsky and the orchestra for their show the next day, a show we would be attending. Myroslav Vantukh, the artistic director of the ensemble, greeted us at the door with a Добрий день (good day). He sat at the front of the studio, as the dozens and dozens of dancers performed, preparing for their show. He'd stop the dance if he saw a mistake, even cutting people from the dance if he had to.
It was moving to see the dancers perform in such an intimate space. There may have been some tears of joy, sorrow (one of the dances was quite sad), and amazement. Their rehearsal made us even more excited to see them the next night in concert.
Later in the day, we went to the outdoor market in Kyiv, our last chance to buy gifts for loved ones back home (and ourselves, of course).
The next day, Independence Day, we went to the Museum of National Architecture and Life Pyrohiv, located in a former village, where we learned about traditional Ukrainian homes and the Kozak lifestyle.
Among other buildings, we went inside the museum's church, which our tour guide said was built the same way people should be — modest on the outside and rich on the inside.
Later we went to our final performance location, which was outdoors. It was a cool day, about 18 C, and it started raining during our last dance, Hopak. It was also very windy, so much so that it would move us as we were dancing, particularly the ladies while spinning. But we still had a great show and smiled big and proud.
In the evening, we went to the Virsky show. People from all over the world were there, which Myroslav Vantukh acknowledged at the end of the show. It was a special way to end our tour, especially since it was Ukraine's Independence Day. Virsky performed dances we saw them rehearsing the day before, dances we've seen online (or live in Winnipeg when the ensemble performed there in 2010), and dances we haven't seen before.
And now, our tour has come to an end. The majority of the group left Friday morning, and others are continuing their travels throughout Europe. Troyanda had an especially teary goodbye to two of the ensemble's dancers, Mikayla Buss and Kaitlin Vitt (me!). We're staying in Ukraine for the next 10 months studying dance as part of Ukrainian Dance World's yearlong immersion program.
We start here in Kyiv, training with Virsky. We'll be in a new city every two months, learning from the best of the best in each place. We're so excited to represent Troyanda and Manitoba. Troyanda, if it wasn't for you, who knows if we'd be able to participate in something like this. And another big thank you to our families for supporting us all these years in dance and for encouraging the celebration of Ukrainian dance and culture.
Troyanda, family, friends — we thank you all and miss you all and love you all and hope you come visit! Troyanda sang us the best Mnohaya lita I've ever heard to the both of us before they boarded the bus to the airport. We can't wait to follow along as you work on new and old choreography and grow as people, and of course dancers.
If you want to follow along Mikayla and I during the next year, find us on Instagram (@mikayla.buss and @kaitlinvitt) and also check out my blog at kaitlinvitt.com/ukraine.
Anyways, thanks for following Troyanda's Ukraine 2017 journey. Slava Ukraini!
Phrase of the day
До побачення (Do pobachennya): Goodbye