John Pichlyk was Shumka’s Artistic Director from 1982 to 1996. He joined the company in 1976 and following periods of study in New York and Ukraine with the famed Virsky Dance Academy, he returned to Canada to become Shumka’s third Artistic Director. A man with a vision and an intrinsic understanding of dance, Pichlyk 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 an historic tour to Ukraine and pushed the boundaries of Ukrainian dance by creating a unique hybrid of folk dance, ballet, character and modern dance. A strong believer in the universality of the human spirit, John Pichlyk 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.
Viter Ukrainian Dancers, Artistic Director
ARAD Teaching Diploma
AISTD Teaching Diploma, National Branch
Tasha Orysiuk is a highly respected and accomplished dance educator, choreographer and adjudicator. During her dance career she has trained extensively in various disciplines under internationally renowned teachers and artists in Canada, the United States, England and Ukraine.
Over the years Tasha achieved her Advanced Dance Certificates in tap, ballet, jazz, modern and national dance as well as numerous other teaching credentials. She has notated the Shumka Dance Syllabus Academy’s syllabi, assisted in its development and created the Classical Ballet Instructors Manual to complement the Syllabus. Tasha has also created her own Ukrainian dance syllabi for pre-beginners and beginners. She has been awarded several choreographic awards and has adjudicated numerous festivals and competitions across western Canada.
Tasha has been the Artistic Director of Viter Ukrainian Dancers and Folk Choir since 2013 and in leading the artistic team, has been instrumental in creating vibrant presentations that involve an exciting blend of Ukrainian song and dance.
In addition to her work with Viter, Tasha teaches Ukrainian dancing at Shumka School of Dance and is the repetiteur for the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. She is also an examiner and an Instructor Workshop presenter for the Shumka Dance Syllabus Academy.
Paul’s passion and energy for Ukrainian dance began at an early age and continues to be a major part of his life. Paul teaches Ukrainian dance throughout the province of Alberta; adjudicates dance festivals throughout Western Canada; and has been a guest choreographer for dance ensembles in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Ontario. He is excited to return to teaching at Shumka School of Dance and share his passion for Ukrainian 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,
Paul travels annually to Ukraine researching folklore, folk dance and attend workshops, including four summer courses at the International Summer School of Dance in the Kyiv University of Culture and Virsky Studio. Since 2010, Paul has been involved in Ukrainian Dance World’s annual Ukrainian Dance Workshop Tour. This Tour provides the opportunity for dancers and instructors throughout North America to travel to Ukraine and take workshops with dance masters, professional regional ensembles, children’s ensembles and village dance groups.
In his dance career with the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers, he has performed throughout Canada and China with various productions, including Shumka’s Cinderella, Absolute Shumka, Travelling Chumaky, Shumka at 50 and Clara’s Dream (collaboration with Virsky and Kyiv Ballet). Paul continues his work with Shumka as a part of their artistic team. Mr. Paul’s favourite region of Ukraine is Hutsulschyna!
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.
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.