Each folk dance has its "ancestor"- an ancient dance, movement, music, or an idea that is used as the source and the basis for a new stage production. Stage dance, often differs significantly from its source, this is due to the fact that each choreographer transforms the original through their vision, the ability of the dancers etc.
Nowadays, in a constantly changing and developing world, finding that authentic ancient dance performed by our ancestors, unaltered by modern stage productions, is getting harder and harder. Modernity creeps its way into every aspect of our lives, in a way distorting and pushing the ancient sources out.
High up in the picturesque Carpathians Mountains, in the famous town of Verkhovyna lives a very interesting family – the Ilyuks. One might wonder what makes this family different from others, and here’s what – all 32 members of the Ilyuk family form a family folk dance ensemble. For 33 years, the group’s repertoire has remained unchanged - since 1982 they’ve been performing the "Vipche Hutsulka", "Resheto" (Sieve), "Vinyk" (Broom) and "Arkan" the same way their ancestors danced it. These dances are passed from generation to generation as the most precious legacy.
‘Let’s do "Arkan" to make the mountains shake!’ – says Mykola Ilyuk starting a dance, as old as the mountains themselves. And strong men (the oldest one is 75!) begin the magical dance – first slowly and then faster with every step, moving in a whirlwind circle, jumping over topirtsi (axes), which according to Hutsul beliefs can be used even to kill devil!
‘We always receive a warm welcome from audiences everywhere we go – be it at home or overseas. Our second day in France, whenever the French saw us, they would chant: “Vive l’Ukraine!”
‘And people from the Ukrainian diaspora, would go running to us, and holding back tears they’d join us in dance.’ - says Mykola.
The fact this ensemble has preserved such authenticity and cleanness in their dances and performance, in no way imbued with modern stage dance, explains their popularity. They live through dance, in it they show their feelings and love for the homeland, for the Carpathian Mountains, because dance, just like the mountains, is bright and eternal.
This year, Ukrainian Dance Workshop Tour participants have a great opportunity to not only travel to the beautiful Carpathian Mountains, experience the hospitality of Hutsuls, taste traditional brynza cheese and drink the miraculous ‘Root’ drink; but also see the ancient Hutsul dances firsthand and learn to dance with the help of the Ilyuk family. You will also have a chance to compare "Arkan" as performed by the "Hutsuliya" ensemble (from Ivano-Frankivsk) - a professional company and the Ilyuk family. This way you’ll understand how a dance evolves from the source to the stage.