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«Dear dancers and Ukrainian dance fans – love the dance that unites the whole planet»

Yours faithfully, Myroslav Vantukh

Lviv, 1956. A 17 year old is admiring the Virsky Ensemble poster in the theatre showcase. Even back then the ensemble was already famous far beyond Ukraine. A ticket to their show cost 2.5 rubles, while the young man’s monthly bursary was 18 rubles. He stands there, hesitating if he should buy the ticket or save the money for food. There’s still a week before getting his bursary and he only has 3 rubles left. Finally he makes a decision. He walks out of the theatre minutes later with the greatly desired ticket in hand. Who knows if the famous ‘Yunist’ ensemble would have been founded in Lviv and what path Ukrainian folk choreography would have gone down if the young man had saved the money for food, as that man was Myroslav Vantukh.

First stage

Myroslav Vantukh was born January 18, 1939 in the village of Zhelykhiv (presently known as Velykosilky), located 35 kilometers from Lviv. His childhood wasn’t the greatest of times – first Western Ukraine joined the USSR, then war. After the war, in 1946, Myroslav started school, where there were many extracurricular activities including a choir, a dance and drama club. These were Myroslav’s very first steps in his artistic career. His debut performance took place right there – on a village school stage, dancing a Belorussian dance ‘Liavonykha’. This very performance marked the beginning of a great love story – the love of art, the love of dance.


After graduating in 1956, Vantukh enters the Lviv College of Cultural Education, then serves in the army, and afterwards in 1961 starts working in the Lviv Palace of Culture. It was right there and then that he had the idea of creating a high class dance ensemble. In 1964 Myroslav Vantukh made this dream come true and founded the ‘Yunist’ ensemble.


The dancers and artistic team worked very hard – rehearsals, productions, concerts. Following Pavlo Virsky’s advice Myroslav Vantukh launched a series special technique classes, added classical ballet to the dancers’ routine. Soon after ‘Yunist’ starts touring all over Ukraine and abroad, wins their first grand prix in Italy, receives countless rave reviews in the media. At that time the ensemble was considered one of the best ones in the then USSR.

In 1975 the Ukrainian folk dance community suffers a great loss – the passing of a true visionary of dance, maestro Pavlo Virsky. The ensemble was facing a real problem –