Lusia Lydia Lubka Pavlychenko ("Miss P" to most) left a lasting mark in the world of Ukrainian folk dance not only in Canada, where she was born and lived her whole life, but also in, the far away yet very dear to her heart, Ukraine.
Lusia was the eldest daughter of Dr. Tymofij and Anastasia Pavlychenko who were prominent leaders in the Ukrainian community.
Lusia's mother Anastasia had taught her and her sisters Ukrainian folk dance as young girls. After being exposed to Ballet at the impressionable age of 15, the spell was cast and she was hooked. Lusia was a force to be reckoned with and she fought brilliantly with her parents for nearly 3 years for permission to take Ballet. This was quite a feat especially for a young woman in the 1950's choosing to pursue a non-traditional career path.
Lusia had trained in the summers with The Royal Winnipeg Ballet which earned her the attention and respect of the esteemed Artistic Director, Arnold Spohr. They maintained a relationship of mutual admiration and appreciation until his passing.
Lusia was a visionary. She thought outside the box, she marched to her own drum and was determined to follow her heart's desire through gut determination and endless hard work. She studied Ballet at the Royal Academy of Dance in London, England. After inheriting a tiny ballet school from Shirley Whittet, her mentor and teacher, in 1954, she established the Saskatoon School of Ballet, still operating today as the Saskatoon School of Dance.
In 1959 she co-founded the Yevshan Ukrainian Dance Ensemble with her sister Nadia. She then discovered her own personal opus when loyal students encouraged her to start the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble (PFE) in 1967. This provided her stage, where her soul was able to soar as she expressed her love, joy and importance and influence of the Ukrainian culture and traditions to her life through dance and movement. Her choreography was unparalleled. She communicated and spoke directly to the hearts of her students and audiences.
Many of her students have pursued careers in dance and art-related fields and continue to inspire and guide other generations. Her efforts are a testament to a life committed to the passionate pursuit and actualization of one's dreams.
Her accomplishments reached from coast to coast, and crossed oceans and included two soul-stirring tours of Ukraine which earned her honour in the Kyiv Choreographic Hall of Fame. Miss P originated the critically acclaimed Saskatchewan Dance Theatre, the first professional Ballet company in Saskatchewan.
Nation Builder's Award, Women's Hall of Fame, Dance Saskatchewan - Honorary Member, and Saskatchewan's highest honour, the Saskatchewan Order of Merit round out an abbreviated list of her awards.
Lusia Pavlychenko passed away peacefully at the age of 79 on November 25th, 2012. That was when Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble together with Lastiwka Ukrainian Orthodox Choir was getting ready for their ‘Legacy’ tour of Ukraine. And Miss P really did leave a great legacy that forever changed the vision of dance.
In 2013, on their tour of Ukraine Miss P’s students and apprentices were able to showcase their and Lusia’s talent and art in numerous shows in Zhytomyr, Chernivtsi, Lviv Kirovohrad and Kyiv. In Kirovohrad, visiting the world’s only museum of Ukrainian Choreographic Art PFE presented materials about Lusia Pavlychenko’s life and work to take a rightful place amongst other legends from the history of Ukrainian dance.
Miss P’s legacy is being kept alive and presented all over the world and her passion lives in the hearts of her successors.