Our youngest class available is the adorable Zirkas (Stars)! In this dance class, the students will begin to learn how to be in a group setting while starting their dance training. The Zirkas will learn the basics of Ukrainian dance positioning, listening to music, and moving around the room all while having a blast in this fun environment. They will learn a basic routine that will be showcased at the year-end recital.
In Ukrainian culture, Stars are viewed as children of the Sun and the Moon. They are bright, beautiful, and so universally admired that wishes are made upon them. In that same spirit, we place our hopes and dreams on our youngest dancers to carry them forward.
Our Barvinoks, continue to develop the basics that many have started in Zirka with fun training, barre technique, and corner work, all while learning a dance that they will bring to festivals and recitals. Techniques such as hand and arm position, footwork, and proper posture will be developed in this class!
Barvinok (Periwinkle) – one of the earliest flowers to bloom, welcoming spring. It has a number of symbolic meanings: Trinities: childhood, adulthood and old age, father, mother and child, spring, summer, and fall. In Ukrainian culture barvinok is widely used to make vinoks for young brides, as it symbolizes fidelity and everlasting love. It is also used in decorating homes for holidays, and Easter baskets before taking them to church to be blessed. Bridesmaids and brides-to-be would ritualistically pick barvinok in the forest. It is also traditionally planted near houses and at grave sites to let loved ones know that they are not forgotten
The Voloshka class builds on the knowledge from the younger classes and will now be able to get even more creative with their dancing. Their dance vocabulary will be worked on and they will be challenged with two dances to bring to the stage. The dance regions will be different from the younger students, they will learn more unique dance steps, do a formal barre for technique, and much more!
Voloshka (cornflower) – One of the 12 traditional flowers of Ukrainian vinok, as a symbol of life, youth, and simplicity. These bright blue flowers are prominently featured in Ukrainian vyshyvanka. Voloshka blooms right as the wheat is sprouting in the fields. In Ukrainian folklore, voloshka symbolizes handsomeness and kindness for boys and tenderness and shyness or modesty for girls.
In Verba, our dancers really get to begin elevating their dancing to the next level with more tricks, solos, spins, and jumps! They have dedicated barre work to begin class, followed by time to learn corner traveling work, center class, and time dedicated to all the unique culture Ukrainian dance has to offer. They also go to many different performances throughout the dance season including festivals and our year-end recital!
Verba (Willow) – is one of most favorite trees of Ukrainian folk songs and as such carries a wide range of symbolism. As an ideal tree it is described as being covered with “golden bark”. As a sacred tree willow offers protection to the family from all things unholy. Willow branches are consecrated on Palm Sunday, and kept in the house under icons for protection for a year to come. It is also seen as a symbol of melancholic beauty, loneliness, and sadness, especially when describing mothers, women, and young girls. Willow doesn’t produce fruit and as such is also seen as a symbol of infertility.
The second to oldest class at Rushnychok is the Vyshynya group. This class grows in their competitive dance, while having a great time learning fun and unique dances to perform during the dance season. They continue to expand their knowledge and technique through barre exercise, corner work, and extensive training from both male and female instructors. These dancers participate in festivals, competitions, and shows including our year-end recital.
Vyshnya (sour cherry tree) – a symbol of native land and Ukraine, mother and bride. It symbolizes a Divine Tree of the World (vysha means high, the highest). As the tree blooms before the leaves are visible it symbolizes the birth of a soul before the body.
It also symbolizes the eternal spring-summer, beauty, youth, and mutual love. In many songs, vyshnya symbolizes a girl from a poor family, beauty, and youth.
Traditional drinks are made from berries and the branches are used to decorate for Green Holiday, Kupala, and others.
Vyshnya and vyshnya orchard are prominently featured in Ukrainian folk songs, novels, poems, and art.
The most senior class, Kalyna, is also our most competitive, expanding both the number of dances performed as well as the degree of difficulty. This group has a great time working hard on all that they have learned throughout the years and use the tools at their disposal to showcase themselves at many different performance opportunities throughout the season. Kalyna (viburnum) – tree of Ukrainian origin. Once upon a time, it was associated with the birth of the Universe, the fiery trinity: the Sun, the Moon, and the Star. As such it was given the old Slavic name of the Sun – Kolo. Kalyna barriers are incredibly red, and because of that for Ukrainians, they became a symbol of blood and immortality of the Ukrainian people and culture, and timeless unity of the people. It is a symbol of incredible beauty and strength. Kalyna is seen as a World Tree and connects the world of the dead with the world of the living. In a folkloric sense, Kalyna became a synonym for a young girl. A beautiful tree takes on a description of a beautiful young girl. Kalyna is also considered to be a “wedding tree” and in the past has been a mandatory guest at weddings. It was used to decorate tables, vinoks, and bread.
Thanks to the vibrant color of the berries that resemble blood droplets Kalyna has become a symbol of the blood that was shed by Cossacks. Traditionally Kalyna was planted at the battle/grave sites to remember those who gave their life for Ukraine.