Oh, Odessa ... Odessa cannot be just seen – you have to feel it with all your heart, you have to hear, breathe, taste it! This city is a large pot where different cultures and folklore, traditions and customs, languages and cuisines have been mixed together. And trust us, once you’ve had a taste of this place – you’ll keep coming back for more. Odessa’s population is made up of Ukrainians, Russians, Jews, Greeks, Moldovans, Gypsies, Romanians... and God knows who else! And this mix is seasoned with a southern flair and the Black Sea. Odessa is just what you need!
If you were the artistic director of a dance company in Odessa – that’d be a challenge but an interesting one. Because to be a successful director, your dancers would have to do the dances of all the different nations represented in Odessa, and that’s no joke. An ensemble that’s been doing the above mentioned, and doing it quite well, is the ‘Chaika’ Academic Song & Dance Ensemble.
The ensemble is quite young still as it was founded in 2008 by ballet master Yuriy Saakyants and conductor Dmytro Prytula. The ensemble’s repertoire reflects all the bright and rich colors of Odessa, with a focus on Ukrainian culture.
The nature of dances in the Ukrainian Black Sea region was greatly influenced by the Kozak culture. After all the first builders and protectors of Odessa were the Zaporizhian Kozaks. They later formed the Black Sea Kozak Army. Their costumes changed slightly and the dance moves acquired a southern touch. Speaking of the Black Sea Kozaks, it’s worth mentioning that their dances echo the dancing of Kuban Kozaks.
Despite their young age, the ‘Chaika’ (or Seagull) ensemble has united highly professional and experienced dancers. The group’s professionalism paired with bright and original productions will impress any audience.
In 2013 Ukrainian Dance Workshop Tour participants had the great pleasure of working with the ‘Chaika’ ensemble. Apart from the specifics and mannerisms of local dances, our travelers were also able to enjoy beautiful sights, learn about the peculiar local humor and party on the shore of the Black Sea. They got a real taste of Odessa.
Now it’s your turn!