Shumka's Nutcracker

"Clara's Dream"

presented by Northgate Industries Ltd.   Sid and Nellie Braaksma

About the Show



Artistic Consultant and Choreographer | John Pichlyk, Canada's Ukrainian Shumka Dancers
John Pichlyk joined Shumka as a dancer in 1976 and following periods of study in New York and Ukraine with the famed Virsky Dance Academy, returned to Canada to become Shumka’s third Artistic Director from 1982 to 1996. After his retirement from Shumka, his involvement continued as an artistic consultant, choreographer, mentor and advisor.


A man with a vision and an intrinsic understanding of dance, John became the captain at the helm of one of the largest and most diverse dance companies ever to tour across Canada and abroad. Under his guidance, the company made a historic tour to Ukraine and pushed the boundaries of Ukrainian dance by creating a unique hybrid of folk dance, ballet, character and contemporary movement.


A strong believer in the universality of the human spirit, John endeavours to create dance that transcends all boundaries and ultimately touches the soul. Respectful of the time-honoured traditions of Ukrainian folklore and customs, he believes that Ukrainian dance must also evolve, reflecting the sensitivities of the performers and their audience.


John is revered in the Ukrainian dance community, both in Canada and Ukraine, as a true visionary in the art form. His latest collaborative work – Kobzar – focuses on the words of Taras Shevchenko and explores the themes of destiny, soul, courage and hope. This powerful and moving production follows the Ukrainian people in their struggles throughout history…and today. 


John is currently focused on the ongoing life of Kobzar as part of Shumka’s tour with the Ukrainian Bandurist Chorus of North America, and the creation of the company’s newest work, Ancestors & Elders, to premiere in April of 2018.


Artistic Director and Choreographer, Shumka's Nutcracker | Viktor Lytvynov, National Artist of Ukraine
A soloist with the Kyiv Ballet of the National Opera of Ukraine in the 1960's, Viktor Lytvynov is the former Artistic Director and current Resident Choreographer of both the Kyiv Ballet of the National Opera of Ukraine and the Municipal Opera and Ballet Theatre of Kyiv.


Viktor’s work with Canada’s Ukrainian Shumka Dancers has been hailed by audiences and critics alike.  He propelled Shumka to a new dance level with his 1995 work Absolutely Shumka and Shumka’s Cinderella in 2000.  Viktor was the Artistic Director/Choreographer of Sulyma Productions Inc.’s THE NUTCRACKER, a ballet fantasy featuring the Kyiv Ballet and Shumka (1997-2004).  Excerpts of this Nutcracker were performed in the touring spectacular A Royal Christmas, starring Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Andrea Bocelli. Viktor’s Pathways to Hopak premiered at the Canada Dance Festival at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre in 2004 and was showcased in the touring production SHUMKA at 50.


Viktor’s newest full-length ballets include Pinocchio, Dr. Doolittle and Caprice – The Life of Paganini, and Two Rabbits. He was honoured to be choreographic lead on Shumka’s KOBZAR and Artistic Director of Shumka’s Nutcracker.


Artistic Director | Jorden Morris, Citie Ballet
Jorden Morris is an Alberta-born, internationally renowned ballet choreographer and director. He trained at the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. Jorden began his career with the RWB after graduating and quickly rose to the rank of principal dancer, performing lead roles in both classical and contemporary works. After retiring from his career on stage, Jorden studied choreography and theatre arts at New York University, as well as early French choreography from Claude Bessy and Serge Golovine of the Paris Opera.


Jorden premiered his first work in 1999, a one-act interpretation of Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers. He choreographed three works in 2000, one for the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham, Alabama that would go on to be performed at the Birmingham Arts Festival. Jorden was also commissioned by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to choreograph two pieces for Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II during her Canadian visit that year, which were broadcast nationally by the CBC.


Jorden then expanded his career by taking the position of Ballet Master and assistant to the Director at Boston Ballet. Jorden rose to the rank of Chief Ballet Master and was the interim Director for the 2001 season.


After returning to Canada as Associate School Director for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Jorden was commissioned to create his first full-length work, Peter Pan. This production became the biggest box office hit in Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s history, until it was surpassed three years later by his next full-length ballet, Moulin Rouge. Since its creation in 2009, Moulin Rouge has been on tour across North America and Europe and has been seen by over 250,000 people in theatres.


Jorden has also choreographed for the Genie and Gemini awards which were broadcast nationally and featured dancers from The National Ballet of Canada and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. In addition to Boston Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Jorden has worked with Atlanta Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, Cincinnati Ballet and Festival Ballet Providence.


Musical Director | Yuri Shevchenko, Honoured Artist of Ukraine

Yuri Shevchenko is acknowledged as one of the finest composers in the Ukrainian classical and theatrical music scene. He creates works for musicals, dramatic theatre and television productions, as well as orchestral works for ballet, folk dance and choral ensembles.


Yuri’s 15 years of composing music for Shumka has resulted in a profound artistic relationship. The marvel of his score for 1995’s Absolutely Shumka was followed by the full-length composition for Shumka’s Cinderella, which toured Canada, China and Ukraine from 2000 to 2007. Yuri’s composition of Shumka’s ground-breaking Pathways to Hopak was a prestigious commission by the 2005 Canada Dance Festival in Ottawa. His progressive and captivating Anniversary Hopak enjoyed its world premiere in Shumka at 50: An Anniversary Concert in 2009. Yuri was very inspired in creating the dramatic musical score for Shumka’s KOBZAR.


One of Yuri’s gifts to Shumka is a grand symphonic version of Carol of the Bells (the Ukrainian Christmas carol Shchedryk) for inclusion in Shumka’s Nutcracker.


Lighting Designer | Pierre Lavoie
Pierre has been active in dance since 1982, first in Toronto as stage manager for most of the city’s modern dance companies, then in Montréal for Les Grands Ballets Canadiens. There he had the great opportunity to work closely with his mentor, lighting designer Nick Cernovitch. Pierre started designing lighting in the 1990’s for Margie Gillis and has since designed every new work in her repertoire. He also creates lights for many independent modern dance artists in Montreal. Pierre’s versatility is seen in how easily he can sustain both modern and classical vocabulary.


He has designed to rave reviews at Alberta Ballet where he is resident lighting designer, for Christopher Wheeldon’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias, Kirk Petersen’s Othello, Emily Molnar’s Carmina Burana and Jean Grand-Maitre's Carmen, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliette, the acclaimed Fiddle and the Drum with Joni Mitchell, Love Lies Bleeding with Elton John and Fumbling Towards Ecstacy with Sarah MacLachlan. Pierre has also designed works for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet including Moulin Rouge, Mark Godden’s As Above, So Below and The Magic Flute, and André Prokovsky’s Anna Karenina. Other ballet credits include Don Quixote, Swan Lake, Taming of the Shrew and Nutcracker at Boston Ballet; Cinderella at Milwaukee Ballet; a mixed jazz program at Ballet Memphis; King Lear, Amadeus, Phantom of the Opera and Don Giovanni at Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada;  and qoundam at the Royal Swedish Ballet choreographed by Sabrina Matthews.


Pierre has also ventured into the world of music where he has designed the lighting for the last three creations of tango music septet Ensemble Romulo Larréa: Homage to Astor Piazzola, Tango for La Milonga and Tango for a Century.


In 2011-12, Pierre was pleased to establish his work for Shumka in many of the most prestigious theatres in China and Canada as part of the SHUMKA at 50 tour. He has worked on Shumka’s Nutcracker and Shumka’s 2016 production, Kobzar.


Set and Costume Designer | Maria Levitska, National Artist of Ukraine
A fourth generation Kyiv artist, Maria Levitska studied at the Art Institute in Kyiv and has designed more than 200 operas, ballets and dramatic works.  Her first ballet production was Lysenko’s 1983 work The Magic Dream at the National Opera of Ukraine, and culminated in her appointment as Director of Stage Design in 1989.  Maria is and remains, the first woman to hold this prestigious position.  In addition to her theatrical work, Maria has and continues to design sets and costumes for numerous historical films created and produced at the Dovzhenko Film Studios.  An accomplished artist, her art has appeared in numerous international exhibitions.


In 2003, Maria received Ukraine’s Honorary Lifetime Achievement Award for her work.


Maria’s set and costume designs for Shumka’s Cinderella, Pathways to Hopak, SHUMKA at 50, KOBZAR  and Shumka’s Nutcracker have provided an entirely new visual world, and benchmark, for theatrical Ukrainian dance.
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