WHIPPANY, NJ – Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy held its traditional Spring Recital on May 8, performing onstage at the Ukrainian American Cultural Center in New Jersey to a live audience in its first performance in approximately 20 months.
The Tsvitka Ukrainian Dance Academy of Rockland County, NY, and the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, which includes advanced dancers, also premiered a new Lemko dance and joined the Iskra Academy in the closing show Hopak. The programme, with a cast of over 50 dancers, also included dances from the Hutsulshchyna, Polissia, Poltava and Zakarpattia regions of Ukraine, performed by Iskra’s four performing groups – Beginner, Intermediate, Junior and Senior – and the two bands of Tsvitka (Iskra also offers a non-performing pre-dance class).
Andrij Cybyk, artistic director of all the bands that performed, was thrilled to see dancers performing in front of a live audience again.
“I am very happy that Iskra, together with Tsvitka, can bring this show to our community,” Mr. Cybyk said. “After all these months of living online, it was great for the kids to be on stage with each other in front of people and for the audience to be able to see a live performance. We are happy to be part of the process of reopening the world.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in the spring of 2020, Iskra Academy transitioned to virtual classes for the remainder of the school year; the recital and the usual spring festivals have all been cancelled. The school returned to hybrid classes in September, in accordance with COVID-19 protocols, with dancers who were not comfortable in the studio joining classes via Zoom. Iskra Ensemble and Tsvitka followed similar action plans.
Recital organizers adhered to all applicable COVID-19 related guidelines, including that dancers wear masks during the performance – which is not always a comfortable thing.
In the end, however, all the effort seemed to be worth it, as Iskra Academy middle band dancer Terenya Nynka puts it.
“The show was full of energy,” Ms. Nynka said. “It was great to be in costume and amazingly good to be on stage again. There’s nothing else like it. Pan Andrij [Cybyk] pushes us to do our best and this show has made life normal again.