History and Tradition of Ukrainian Dance

Dance has been a vital part of the Ukrainian culture, which can be traced back to third millennium BC. Traditional folk dancing is referred to as Ukrainian Dance, and is noted for its precise choreography and extremely energetic routines. Watching one of these performances is breathtaking as well as spellbinding, and there are a number of dance troupes in Ukraine that keep this significant part of their heritage alive. What once was a ritual that combined dance, poetry, music and songs, is now a lively display of the history of Ukraine.

Folk dancing, or Ukrainian Dance, began to change with the vision of Vasyl Verkhovynets, who began a theatrical troupe and started to combine the dancing, with theatre, still basing the story-line on folk themes. As he traveled the country with his troupe, the performances began to gain popularity. After the Russian Revolution, Verkhovynets continued to train new performers and sharing his choreographing skills with the next generation. Various dance troupes began to sprout up such as the Yatran Dance Ensemble, Chornohora Song and Dance Ensamble, Ukrainian Folk Choir and the Dnipro Ensemble. Once Ukrainian dance began to be performed on stage, it was altered in a way, as it was not used for ritual purposes anymore, but for preserving its history and for entertainment. What makes Ukrainian Dance to unique is that each region has their own style even though “story” dances cannot be categorized by region. Stage costumes are tailored in vibrant colors and based on traditional dance designs.

When looking at the different Ukrainian dances, the Kozak Dances (Central Ukrainian), are focused on the traditional and historical cultural dances. Some military influence did creep in, and the men are therefore dressed loose fitting riding pants, boots, spacious shirts, waist sash and sometimes includes a sword, hat or overcoat. Colorful costumes, bouncing and sweeping movements represent the traditions of Ukrainian Zakarpattia in Transcarpathian Dances, while the highlanders or Hutsulchyna region is brought to life in the Hutsul Dances. Other Ukrainian Dances include Bukovynian Dances, Boiko Dances, Lemko Dances, Volyn Dances, Gypsy Dances, Podillian Dances and Polissian Dances. Each form of Ukrainian dance is unique in the way it is performed, costumes and dance routines, and if visitors are able to catch a dance troupe on stage, it is a recommended attraction.