In New York Town, a Ukrainian Dance Company Finds Power in Custom

Ora Sawyers

From afar, the dancers of Syzokryli seem like dolls with floral halos—vinki—around their heads. Up close, their faces inform a diverse, fiercer story. Nowadays the ladies of this Ukrainian dance business have occur with each other to complete at a tiny studio a couple blocks from Union Sq.. The modest place, packed with roughly 11 women of all ages (plus 10 apprentices) ranging from their early teens to their late 30s, will get blisteringly hot immediately after each plan. The footwork is intricate, fast, and executed with just about armed forces precision. By the conclusion, beads of sweat glisten on top rated of their self-administered, phase-ready make-up: pink lips and pale powdered faces with dollops of blush. They put on two braids fixed at the major of the head—not a flyaway in sight.

Directed by Mayan Toledano

The dancer Roma Pryma-Bohachevsky started the Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in 1978 in the United States. Pryma-Bohachevsky, who was skilled in ballet, grew up in the western metropolis of Lviv in Ukraine, wherever she done at the Lviv Opera Ballet Theatre. Right after World War II, she attended Vienna’s College of Music and Executing Arts and afterwards became a soloist at the Nationwide Theatre in Innsbruck, Austria. In her 20s, she immigrated to Canada, where by she danced with the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. At some point, she moved to New York, learning beneath Martha Graham, José Limón, and Katherine Dunham.

Ania Bohachevsky Lonkevych, Syzokryli’s executive director, took over the dance business and its summer months plans from her late mother, Roma Pryma-Bohachevsky, who started the ensemble in 1978. “Syzokryli—that’s the adjective: shimmery, rapid, graceful, stylish, and highly effective,” states Lonkevych. Her mom “wanted all of these characteristics in her dance team,” she suggests. Lonkevych is donning a conventional Hutsul necklace composed of coral beads and bronze zgardas, protective cross amulets hailing from pre-Christian situations.

Photographed by Mayan Toledano

Pryma-Bohachevsky launched Syzokryli when her daughter, Ania Bohachevsky Lonkevych (a previous attorney and now executive director of the organization), was only 13. (Pryma-Bohachevsky handed away in 2004.) “I was the youngest member, the only unique member—all of the choreography was established on me,” suggests Lonkevych. “At home if she necessary a husband or wife or a established of palms, it was me or my brother.” These days, the Syzokryli gals endearingly but respectfully refer to Lonkevych as Pani Ania, or “Teacher Ania.” Some even lovingly refer to her as their mother. “Every 12 months my daughter suggests, ‘Mama, how lots of adopted youngsters do you have now?’” states Lonkevych. “I yell at them as if they are my individual!”

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