In a flurry of colourful costumes and elaborate leaps yesterday a local dance company unveiled the program for their 50th anniversary celebration.

The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, recognized as the only professional Ukrainian dance company in Canada, will be hosting their “Golden Gala” on Nov. 21.

“The importance of the gala is to show Edmonton and Alberta and Canada that Shumka is evolving, growing and bringing this art form, Ukrainian dance, to audiences everywhere,” said Shumka's director of development, Suzanna Brytan. “We are going to stop at nothing, we are going to get bigger and better and we will grow in tradition. Shumka does things out of the box. We are many things to different audiences and we love to be that.”

Dancers performed a brief selection from their upcoming show, much to the delight of Canadian dancer Veronica Tennant, who serves as an honorary patron of the event. Tennant, a Companion of the Order of Canada, earned international acclaim as the principal dancer of the National Ballet of Canada.

Since retiring she has gained renown as a director and was recently nominated for a Gemini Award. “I think that it is incomporable the way these dancers just love the way they dance and they make the audience love them,” Tennant emphasized. “Shumka means ‘whirlwind,’ and I think that that is a wonderful description. It is a whirlwind of colour, of blazing athleticism, (and) art because of the joyous response to music.”

Though Tennant will not attend the gala, she is eager to return to Edmonton to share her expertise with Shumka dancers.

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