Spread out between the mountainous land of Hutsuls and the charming Buko country is an interesting and unique region of Pokuttia. The name can be explained the following way – Pokuttia is located on the very edge (in Ukrainian – ‘kut’, «кут») of the Carpathian region. The folk dance art of Pokuttia has some interesting features, different from those of their neighbors - Hutsuls and Bukos.
A signature dance from the Pokuttia region is ‘Holubka’ - a dance of love. In this dance girls depict doves (holubkas). They slowly and gracefully walk out on stage, with their arms pulled slightly to the back, to resemble wings.
‘Holubka’ is a dance that was transformed from ancient roundelays. At certain points throughout the dance the soloist exclaims the word ‘holubka’ which signalizes a change of pace or a change of dance figures. Because the dance depicts ‘love birds’ it is typically performed at weddings.
The first stage production of ‘Holubka’ was done by a talented choreographer Yaroslav Chuperchuk. In 1956, in Lviv, he created the iconic ‘Holubka’, which eventually became a classic piece of Ukrainian folk stage choreography. This dance was based on dance moves recorded in Sniatyn region (near Ivano-Frankivsk). Presently the ‘Holubka’ choreographed by Yaroslav Chuperchuk is performed by the ‘Halychyna’ ensemble and the ‘Veseli Cherevychky’ (Jolly Boots) ensemble from Lviv, The Veryovka Choir and many others.
The Hutsul version of ‘Holubka’ has undergone some interesting changes. Here it is also performed at weddings, but it is a dance and a game. The soloist is also a conductor, he tells the other dancers what to do. When he says ‘Doves on the right’ – the girls have to move right; ‘Doves to the front’ – girls will switch partners moving forward; ‘Obertas’ – couples turn and start moving in the opposite direction, etc.
There are interesting versions of ‘Holubka’ performed by Ukrainian dance ensembles abroad as well. A modernized Ukrainian Canadian wedding ‘Holubka’ was created by Serhij Koroliuk for the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble. This piece is modernized not only by contemporary outfits and moves but also the music by a famous Ukrainian band Vopli Vidopliasova.
So there really is no difference if you’re celebrating a wedding in a Carpathian village or in a major city – you’ll dance some ‘Holubka’ either way. Don’t forget to train for it! ;)