DC Folk Dance Group Raises Thousands of Dollars for Ukraine

With bright costumes and lots of energy, the Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble showed off their moves during a performance to raise funds for Ukraine.

Artists take part in the Dancing to #StandwithUkraine fundraising show. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

OMCP/Valerie Bonk

Artists take part in the Dancing to #StandwithUkraine fundraising show. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

OMCP/Valerie Bonk

A donation box at the door of the Dancing to #StandwithUkraine benefit show. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

OMCP/Valerie Bonk

Ukrainian a capella group SPIV-Zhyttya. (WTOP/Valerie Bonk)

OMCP/Valerie Bonk

With bright costumes and lots of energy, the Carpathian Folk Dance Ensemble showed off his moves at a concert to raise money for Ukraine.

At All Souls Church Unitarian in DC, the band performed for a sold-out show called Dancing to #StandWithUkraine.



“As soon as war broke out in Ukraine, we knew we had to find a way to help,” said Wesley Reisser, director and founder of the group.

It was the last of three shows the band has performed in the area over the past few weeks. So far, the group has raised more than $24,000 in donations to help support World Central Kitchen and Catholic charity Caritas in their relief work in Ukraine.

In addition to the Carpathia Folk Dance Ensemble, this event included performances by a Ukrainian a cappella group SPIV-Jyttya and the Tisza set.

“The enthusiasm of the crowds was incredible. We got standing ovations all of those shows,” Reisser said.

Band member Yaryna Onufrey grew up in the United States, but her mother is from Ukraine and her father’s parents emigrated to the United States after World War II. She was grateful to be able to support the Ukrainian cause.

“The outpouring of support has been just amazing,” Onufrey said.


In Annapolis, Maryland, teenagers raised more than $8,000 for Ukraine during a live-streamed concert.


Cathy Lamonte, founder and artistic director of Hungarian dance group Tisza Ensemble, said that although the group is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, events like this have been a great way to celebrate and raise funds for those who need it the most.

“We’ve had sold-out audiences at every one of our shows in Ukraine, and that’s very heartwarming,” Lamonte said.

Reisser said their sold-out shows were excellent. Not just for the increased fundraising, but for the opportunity to educate people about folk dancing.

“I think a lot of people, when they think of folk dancing, think it’s kind of silly or boring,” Reisser said. “But Ukrainian dance is really exciting. Lots of lifts, guys squatting on the floor and kicking, lots of amazing fast spins, nice colorful costumes.

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