«Two hours under hypnosis» – these were the words Alan Frederich, a critic of the Royal Theatre of Copenhagen, used to start his article dedicated to the performance of the "Yunist" Ensemble he saw in Denmark in 1968. And this phrase best describes the company’s work. "Yunist" (or Youth) always has a magical, almost hypnotic effect on the audience. Such effect is achieved only thanks to the dancers’ mastery combined with the amazing productions, courtesy of the ensemble’s artistic team.
The company’s ‘story’ began in 1964. One young yet very ambitious dancer decided he wanted to create a dance group that would showcase the best of folk dance at a high skill and performance level. This man’s name was Myroslav Vantukh. And the road from an idea to the creation of a company was paved with hard work, dedication and inspiration. But all the hard work paid off. Shortly after the ensemble was created, it was noticed by the ‘guru’ of Ukrainian dance – Pavlo Virsky. After one of the dance competitions in Kyiv, Virsky approached Vantukh to say the following: «Right now what your dancers lack is technique, but don’t you worry. First of all it’s the performance culture that you need. Once you have that, the technique will come.»
That conversation inspired even more hard work from the ensemble – they perfected their mastery, launched special technique classes, added classical ballet classes. And it was thanks to the hard work of the dancers and choreographers that "Yunist" eventually became one of the top dance companies of the then Soviet Union. This training routine – a combination of classical ballet, followed by a technique class and finally dance rehearsal is still practiced within the group today.
In 1980, 5 years after Pavlo Virsky’s passing, Myroslav Vantukh was invited to take his position in the lead folk dance ensemble of Ukraine - the P. Virsky National Ukrainian Folk Dance Ensemble. And "Yunist" also acquired a new artistic director – Vantukh’s apprentice Mykhailo Vanivskyy.
"Yunist" - is a school of dance, a folk art laboratory, engaging more than 200 dancers, working in seven different age groups. It was Mykhailo Vanivskyy who founded a children’s school, the “Vyriy” children’s ensemble, and the "Karpaty" folk ensemble working as parts of "Yunist", with the idea of dancers moving from one group to the next one with age, ‘Yunist’ being the final step.
The ensemble’s repertoire is quite impressive, consisting of over 50 dances. In the Soviet epoch the company’s repertoire was divided into 3 blocks - "Dances of Ukraine", "Dances of the USSR", and "Dances of the World". Now the main purpose of the renowned group is to collect, study and popularize the national traditions and art of the Ukrainian people. They want to use the traditional folk as a basis for creating dances and new choreography showcasing the past and present of Ukraine, and most importantly, they want to educate a new generation of young, talented people to reproduce, and enrich the beauty of Ukrainian dance.
Since 1993, for more than 10 years, the ensemble has held dance seminars for dance groups from around the world, including those from the USA, Argentina, Brazil, France, England, Australia, Croatia, Serbia, Holland and Canada.
This year, "Yunist" is clelebrating their 50th anniversary with a gala at the Lviv Opera House, on December 28. This celebration will bring together all generations who were once part of "Yunist". Each and every one of them is a puzzle piece that makes up the unique spirit and character of the ensemble.
The Ukrainian Dance Word congratulates the talented artistic team on the 50th anniversary and wishes many new creative achievements!
Info source: Alexander Burkovsky "Myroslav Vantukh"