Dance group helps young Ukrainian refugees adapt to life in Manchester

Podilya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble

Submitted by Sara Teiger PR

Dancers from Ukrainian families in Manchester will showcase the innovative choreography, colorful costumes and breathtaking acrobatics of traditional Ukrainian dances at Góbéfest 22, a free weekend festival in the city centre.

Cheetham Hill-based Ukrainian dance ensemble Podilya will perform at Cathedral Gardens and Exchange Square on Sunday 26 June as part of Góbéfest.

And for those brave enough to try the legendary moves made famous by the Cossacks, a workshop in the festival activity tent will teach traditional steps and routines.

Podilya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble

Podilya is a troupe of 70 dedicated and accomplished dancers between the ages of 4 and 30 whose aim is to preserve and promote the traditional art of Ukrainian dance.

All members are first or second generation Ukrainians, with their most recent members having joined the group after fleeing the ongoing conflict in Ukraine to settle in Manchester.

And, says Podilya founder Linda Szlachetko, the group provided a familiar and welcoming community for its new performers.

“Children who have joined us since arriving in Manchester have found a very warm welcome here in Podilya, where the majority of our members speak Ukrainian,” she says.

“We are based at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Cheetham Hill and we are a very strong community of Ukrainian families who come together to celebrate the country, its dances, costumes and traditions.”

Podilya, who reached the live semi-finals of Sky TV’s ‘Got to Dance’ with her intricate acrobatics and intricate choreography, will perform a series of Ukrainian dances from parts of the country, wearing elaborately embroidered traditional costumes made handmade in Ukraine. .



“What makes the group’s performances so memorable is their passion for dance and the strong Ukrainian spirit that beats in the dancers’ hearts,” says Linda.

“Each region of Ukraine has its own costume and dance style, and our performances reflect the differences of each region very well. We also perform Ukraine’s most famous dance, hopak, which is a traditional folk dance with many acrobatic movements.

“Hopak means ‘to jump'”.

The talents of Podilya’s dancers are in high demand, with the group performing at shows, festivals and fundraising events across the UK and Europe.

But, despite the high level of skill displayed in traditional Ukrainian choreography, all the dancers are amateur artists who crowd into rehearsals and performances around their daily work as doctors, firefighters, dentists, bankers and teachers alongside of a number of students.

“It’s a very dedicated group!” says Linda. “Podilya is above all a community and people who come together to express themselves through performances and Ukrainian traditions.

Podilya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble

“For young dancers, especially those who joined us recently from Ukraine, it’s a place to participate, try new things and just enjoy life.”

Ottilia Ordog, founder of Góbéfest, invited the group to perform at this free, family-friendly event, alongside folk dance groups from Transylvania, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland.

She says: “I can’t wait to see Podilya. This year’s festival has the largest and most diverse lineup to date and we hope to build on this diversity each year, celebrating the uniqueness of each of our cultures, as well as the similarities.

“I am so excited that we can all come together to share our dance moves, our songs, our rhythms, our sounds, our customs, our tastes and our languages ​​with the public, the Manchester community and with each other.

Podilya Ukrainian Dance Ensemble

“This year, more than ever, it’s so important to connect and uplift people with our music, dance and harmony.

“What better way to learn about other people and cultures than by sharing music, dance, food and drink?”

At Góbéfest, the public will be treated to two energetic half-hour performances by dancers from Podilya aged between 16 and 30.

The band will perform on Sunday June 26 on the main stage in Cathedral Gardens from 12.30pm to 1pm, then again in Exchange Square from 1.30pm to 2pm. A workshop for people of all ages will take place in the activity tent between 3 and 4 p.m.

To find out what to expect from the Góbéfest dancers, you can watch Podilya’s popular Sky TV performance on Youtube.


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