Despite being born and raised in Canada, Ukrainian heritage has always been a major part of Andrew Wolchuk’s life.
“On my dad’s side everyone is Ukrainian,” Wolchuk said. “I’m 50/50 but I grew up celebrating Ukrainian Christmas, going to Ukrainian Orthodox church, there’s a pretty big Ukrainian community in Nipawin.”
At three years old, Wolchuk’s parents put him in a Ukrainian Dance group in Nipawin. He has been dancing ever since.
Now 22, Wolchuk dances for Shumka, Canada’s only professional Ukrainian dance group, based out of Edmonton.
“I have been dancing with Shumka about four years now, I joined in summer of 2009,” Wolchuk said. “Its been fantastic, such a great experience. I’ve travelled all around Canada, we did a seven-week tour in China.”
“It was really good, I enjoyed it a lot,” Wolchuk said of the China tour. “There were kids dancing in the aisles during our performance, it was a really cool experience. “
Founded in 1960, Shumka is well known throughout the professional dance world, having performed across the globe, for Queen Elizabeth, and at Olympic opening ceremonies. A TV program, “White Boots to China”, was broadcast on the Bravo network about their tour in China.
The group of nearly 40 performers produces original music and choreography and performs both historical and contemporary dancing.
“The way our dance movements are, we tell a lot of stories in our show,” Wolchuk said. “So there’s a lot of theatre-type dance in the performances.”
Shumka will bring their unique style of dance to Prince Albert on Oct. 25 at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre at 7:30 p.m.
Wolchuk says that despite being a life-long dancer, he is still working hard towards learning the skill.
“I’m always trying to improve, always trying to get better,” Wolchuk said. “It’s not easy, there’s all kinds of tricks, it’s very high energy. Not everyone can do it, it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.”
Wolchuk says he plans to keep dancing with Shumka for as long as he can.
“I love to perform,” Wolchuk said. “The final ‘hey!’ at the end, and the crowd cheering, there’s no better feeling then that.”