Brought to Kelowna by the Community Concert Association, the Volya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble is billed as a premiere dance troupe, having entertained throughout the world. On Sunday evening they truly lived up to their reputation.
From the moment they stepped onto the stage in one of their many colorful costumes, they captivated the capacity crowd.As they danced through their various numbers they created a veritable kaleidoscope of color, each dance different form the others.
The true mark of any dance troupe is their ability to synchronize movements.Volya has accomplished that for nearly all of the dances. Only rarely did they fail to achieve absolute togetherness, but the combination of the intricate steps and complex rhythmic patterns more than compensated. I found it interesting that many of the individual steps resembled those from other countries, yet they put their unique flair on them. The troupe followed the many tempo and rhythm changes with ease, not missing a beat.
The music was pre-recorded and kept the pace moving well. In one section, there was some singing from the dancers and unfortunately the music overpowered the voices. That should be an easy fix given the technical flexibility of most sound systems.
Although the dancing was taken from traditional dances, the choreographer made creative use of black light with white scarves, creating the effect of swirling snow, after one of the dancers presented a ballet style of dance to resemble a bird.
An excellent violin solo of traditional folk melodies gave the dancers a breather, and was an additional treat for the audience.
In any dance presentation, the ensemble is critical, but the flash and dash comes from the solo dancers. Both the men and the women were astounding, making easy work of the traditional movements that we enjoy so much. I have attended a number of such performances and this group excelled anything I have seen, adding some movements that were new to me.
The evening was full of breathtaking action, humor, and was a delight to the eye and ear. The finale, a Hopak, brought out the entire company in a spectacular display of grace, acrobatics, agility and passion, building to a stunning climax.
Marvin Dickau is an Organist, Pianist and Conductor who has an A.Mus from the University of Alberta.He has conducted choirs and small orchestras, given solo piano and organ recitals and accompanied many singers and instrumentalists in Kelowna and Calgary.