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The Aboriginal School of Dance: “This is a wonderful opportunity for our performers to connect with young dancers from other communities,” says Buffy Handel.

The Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble: “Chai and Rusalka share a long friendship of acceptance and mutual respect,” says Amy Yakimoski.

Chai’s “Woven Threads”: A Colourful, Energetic Event

June 7 concert a multicultural extravaganza

May 23, 2018

For David Vamos, when the Sarah Sommer Chai Folk Ensemble and the Rusalka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble hit the stage together, the result is magical.


“There is this energy that is hard to describe,” says Vamos, Chai’s Vocal and Artistic Director. “There’s athleticism, bright costumes, and music that makes it impossible not to smile. We always look forward to sharing the stage with Rusalka.”


The feelings are mutual, says Amy Yakimoski, Rusalka’s Board Chair.


“Chai and Rusalka share a long friendship of acceptance and mutual respect,” says Yakimoski. “Performing together acknowledges our differences while celebrating our shared love for our cultures.”


Yakimoski and Vamos are both especially excited about the Hora-Hopak, a long-time Chai/Rusalka favourite that will be featured at “Woven Threads”, Chai’s June 7 concert at the Club Regent Event Centre. The piece combines elements of a traditional Hora along with the Hopak, a popular Ukrainian dance.


Rusalka is one of four groups invited to Chai’s stage on June 7, along with the Aboriginal School of Dance, representing Winnipeg’s Indigenous community; La Troupe Jeunesse de l’Ensemble Folklorique de la Rivière-Rouge, representing the Franco-Manitoban community; and Magdaragat Philippines, representing Winnipeg’s Filipino community.


“We’re very happy to be at this event. We don’t just see this as a show,” says Buffy Handel, owner of the Aboriginal School of Dance. “As Indigenous performers, we have a social obligation to contribute to other communities in a multicultural society.”


The Aboriginal School of Dance will be performing a dynamic piece at “Woven Threads”, incorporating jigging, line dancing, powwow steps, and a finale with a pure traditional hoop dance. There are many traditional elements in the school’s work, with some exciting and meaningful contemporary influences. 


“This is a wonderful opportunity for our performers to connect with young dancers from other communities,” says Handel, granddaughter of a former Chief of the Island Lake First Nation, and the fifth great niece of composer George Frideric Handel. “There is an immediate connection because of dance. They appreciate the effort involved in performing and they are happy to be acknowledged by other ethnicities. It is absolutely beautiful.”


“We are very excited to welcome the Aboriginal School of Dance and all of the guest groups to our stage,” says Vamos. “Buffy is right when she says there is an immediate connection through dance.”


“All five performing groups are leaders within their cultural communities,” adds Yakimoski. “It is important that the collaborations with each of these groups continue to grow. We can show Winnipeg that we celebrate not only the heritage of our own families and communities, but the cultures and values of our neighbours as well. This is the beauty that will emanate from the groups performing on stage.”


At “Woven Threads” Chai will honour long-time supporters, Tova and Larry Vickar. Honorary Co-Chairs for the event are David Chartrand, President of the Manitoba Métis Federation; Bob Freedman, former CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg; Dr. Rey Pagtakhan, a former federal cabinet minister; and Blair Yakimoski, MLA. David Greaves and Howard Morry are serving as Campaign Co-Chairs.


Concert tickets are available through the Chai office. Please contact Reeva Nepon for more information – (204) 477-7497.

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Rhonda Spivak, Editor

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