Joseph Hoffman is a passionate and experienced dance instructor, writer, choreographer, and director. Joseph has trained with dance schools around Alberta in a wide variety of disciplines and has spent the last three years developing his own original performances as a part of Kinda Epic Productions.
Joseph got his start as a dancer with Avrora Ukrainian Dancers in Fort McMurray in 2006, before moving on to Shumka in 2010, and KaRAR Dance Studio in 2012. While he was receiving formal dance training, Joseph was also pursuing a degree in kinesiology at the University of Alberta, which he received in 2015.
Joseph’s background as a dancer, paired with his academic specialization in motor learning, fitness, and coaching, have made him an authority on dance education. During his time at Shumka, Joseph has taken on an increasing number of responsibilities, including positions on Shumka’s Wellness Committee and Artistic Committee. In 2016, he spearheaded a new outreach project, Seniors can Shumka, which aims to bring both the cultural knowledge and the fitness benefits of Ukrainian dancing to an older generation.
Since 2015, Joseph has had a focus on the production side of dance and theatre, and has written, composed, choreographed, and directed Anya: A Russian Fairytale and Dovbush: Legend of the Karpathians to much critical success, and is currently working on his third production, Captain Roberts.
Joseph is proud to serve in his new role as Artistic Associate for Shumka and as Co-Director of its newest work – Ancestors & Elders – where he will be able to share his expertise, and continue to develop his craft.
ARAD Teaching Diploma
AISTD Teaching Diploma, National Branch
Tasha Orysiuk is a highly respected and accomplished dance educator, adjudicator and choreographer in Canada, having trained extensively in various disciplines under internationally-renowned artists in Canada, the United States, England, and Ukraine during her dance career. Over the years, Tasha achieved her Advanced Dance Certificates in tap, ballet, jazz, modern, and national dancing, in addition to holding numerous other teaching credentials which make her a highly sought-after instructor, examiner and adjudicator.
Tasha is recognized for her work in the development and notation of the Shumka Dance Syllabus Academy’s syllabi and complementary Classical Ballet Instructors Manual. Tasha has also created her own Ukrainian dance syllabi for pre-beginners and beginners. Throughout her career, Tasha has adjudicated at numerous festivals and competitions across Western Canada, while also receiving several choreographic accolades for her work as an educator.
As a resident of Toronto, Tasha toured internationally with the Arkan Dance Company, before embarking on a period of study at the Institute of Ukrainian Folk Dance in Lviv, Ukraine. She moved to Edmonton, joining the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers in 1996, and had the opportunity to tour nationally with the company in the highly-acclaimed productions of Absolutely Shumka and Cinderella, in which she earned artistic acknowledgements for the latter. Another highlight of her performance career included being one of 14 Shumka dancers selected to tour the Eastern United States as part of The Nutcracker – A Ballet Fantasy along with members of the Kyiv Ballet of Ukraine in 1997 and 1999.
Tasha joined the Shumka Artistic Team in 2015 as a repetiteur, working on projects including Clara’s Dream and Kobzar. She is now in the position of Creative Director for the company, along with Paul Olijnyk, with duties including dancer training, choreography, and artistic mentorship.
Toronto-born Paul Olijnyk began his association with Canada’s Ukrainian Shumka dancers in 2001, when he moved to Edmonton and joined the company to pursue his passion for Ukrainian dance. Since then, Paul has taught Ukrainian dance throughout the province of Alberta; adjudicates dance festivals throughout Western Canada; and has been a guest choreographer for dance ensembles in Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. He is one of the key instructors of the Shumka School of Dance where he shares his fervour for dance and culture with his students.
Paul is a graduate of the Edmonton School of Ballet’s Pre-Professional Dance Training Program and a certified teacher under the Shumka Dance Syllabus Academy. He holds a BFA honours degree from York University, specializing in dance, and a Master of Arts degree, specializing in Ukrainian folklore, from the University of Alberta. In December 2017, Paul will be graduating with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta.
Paul travels annually to Ukraine researching folklore, folk dance, attends workshops and seminars, including multiple summer courses at the International Summer School of Dance in the Kyiv University of Culture and Virsky Studio. Paul’s involvement with Ukrainian Dance World’s annual Ukrainian Dance Workshop Tour has provided him with the opportunity to learn ethnographically appropriate lexicon and choreography from Ukraine’s most renowned professional regional ensembles, authentic folk ensembles and both pre-professional and amateur youth ensembles throughout each of the major ethnographic regions in Ukraine.
Throughout his career as a dance educator, Paul has been Artistic Director of the Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance (Toronto), Sopilka School of Ukrainian Dance (Vegreville), Troyanda School of Ukrainian Dance (Grande Prairie) and Muzyka Dancers (Peace River). Paul has also staged multiple dance- theatre storyline productions for young dancers.
In his dance career, Paul has performed with Yavir Ensemble (Toronto), Desna Ukrainian Dancers (Toronto), The Kozaks (Toronto) and with Canada’s National Riding and Dancing Cossacks. During his tenure with the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, he has performed throughout Canada and China with various productions, including Shumka’s Cinderella, Absolutely Shumka, Travelling Chumaky, Shumka at 50 and Clara’s Dream, a collaboration with Ukraine’s Virsky and Kyiv Ballet companies. Paul has been involved with Shumka as a repetiteur and choreographer for the past 4 years and is excited to continue his work with the company as Creative Director along with Tasha Orysiuk.
John Pichlyk joined the company 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.
Vincent Rees has been a prolific dancer, director, choreographer and connoisseur of Ukrainian dance, art and culture for many years. He moved to Edmonton in 1992 to join the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers with whom he danced for many years and served on Shumka’s Artistic team for several years, accepting the role of Artistic Director of Shumka School from 1999 to 2004. In 2011 he became Artistic Director of the Viter Ukrainian Dancers and Folk Choir, created several new works, and toured Ukraine with them in the summer of 2012. Vincent studied regional dance and choreography extensively in at the Institute of Ukrainian Folk Dance in Lviv and the Virsky Studio. His fascination with Ukrainian dance and culture led him to complete a master’s degree in Ukrainian Folklore from the University of Alberta. He has also studied ethnochoreology in Norway, Romania and Canada as a complement to his stage dance interests. Recently Vincent co-created the documentary film “Ukrainian Dance: A Journey to Alberta,” He is one of the key partners in the International Ukrainian Dance and Culture Festival, which will take place in Brazil in 2015 and in Ukraine in 2016, and is producing a television series titled “Dance Planet” which plans to travel the globe capturing traditional dances before they are forgotten.
Leslie began his dance career at 12 and at the age of 16 he was accepted into the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. During his 10 plus years as a performer in Shumka, he had the privilege of working with such artists as John Pichlyk, Viktor Lytvynov, Brian Webb and Yuri Shevchenko. He had the opportunity to tour through Canada and the United States in Shumka’s productions of Absolutely Shumka and Cinderella. Leslie was also honored to be one of the performers in Sulyma Productions’ The Nutcracker, A Ballet Fantasy for three consecutive years. During Shumka’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, he received a Membership with Distinction award from Shumka for his ongoing dedication to the company.
In 1993 Leslie trained at the Ukrainian Academy of Dance in Lviv, Ukraine, focusing on both ballet and character training along with regional chorography and music. This experience was a guiding force in his future artistic journey.
Leslie served as the Viter Ukrainian Dancers Artistic Director from 2004 to 2010. His vision forged new ground for the company guiding the creation of the song and dance style that is a hallmark of the company today. During this time with Viter Leslie created innovative work such as Spring Time in Laszky, Sad Memories of Childhood and Pioneer Suite.
His collaborative spirit has forged relationships with international artists to create original choreography, music, projections and costumes that contribute to an evolving world vision of Ukrainian dance. Leslie is currently directing Shumka’s newest theatre-for-young audiences pieces, Mosquito’s Wedding: All You Need is Love.
Leslie is also owner, director, producer and camera operator of Blue Toque Productions, an Edmonton based media company that specializes in telling stories through documentary-style films.
Michael Sulyma began Sulyma Productions exploring the realm of television and film production, starting with his work at the National Screen Institute of Canada. Combining his arts background with his degree in business and years of experience with the accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand, Michael became a busy Production Manager producing numerous projects through the years for television, London’s West End and Stage West Theatres.
Michael has produced nine national and international tours for Canada’s Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, including their monumental 1990 tour to Moscow and Ukraine which resulted in the award-winning documentary Return of the Whirlwind. He subsequently produced Shumka’s Katrusia, Cycles of the Sun, and Night of Perun for CBC Television.
Artists of Shumka and Ukraine’s Kyiv Ballet were brought together in Sulyma Productions’ THE NUTCRACKER, a ballet fantasy (which toured for seven years) and Snow White and the Seven Gnomes of Christmas. Excerpts of the Nutcracker were produced for the seasonal touring special, A Royal Christmas starring such luminaries as Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer, Andrea Bocelli, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and principal dancers from Royal Ballet Covent Garden, Bolshoi Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.
Michael is Co-Producer of a new Chinese multi-disciplinary production, Chun Yi: The Legend of Kung Fu which has toured North America, Russia, Japan and London’s West End at the London Coliseum and with over 6,000 performances internationally allowing it to become the longest running theatrical production in China. Currently Michael and his partners are finalizing the plans for the first tour to Mainland China by the world famous Cavalia/Odysseo Equestrian Spectacular during the summer of 2015.