Philadelphia Museum of Art features mosaic of Ukrainian culture
by Petrusia Sawchak
PHILADELPHIA - Every Wednesday evening the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes alive with special programs designed to tantalize all the senses. On July 9, a stunning mosaic of Ukrainian culture was featured at the Philadelphia Museum of Art under the sponsorship of the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center in Philadelphia (UECC).
The museum's coordinator for the Wednesday night programs, Laura Hendrich, described the Ukrainian program as, "Outstanding! Exquisite! Beyond all my expectations. I never expected such sensational talent." She added that she wants the center to participate in next year's program. Over 1,500 people participated in the event which, according to museum officials, was the best attended event in the past six months.
The program commenced with contemporary Ukrainian popular music provided by the Zenko Ensemble under the director of Zenko Kmet. Borys Zacharchuk, UECC president, welcomed and invited everyone to visit the Ukrainian Educational and Cultural Center and to enjoy the many programs being offered there.
Mistress of ceremonies Orysia Hewka, who organized the evening, introduced the Ukrainian International Ballet Company VAGI, whose artistic director/choreographer is Volodymyr Shumakin. His wife, Halina, is the company's costume designer. The opening number was a pas-de-deux "Melody and Rain" (music by Skoryk and choreography by Shumakin). It was exceptionally well executed by prima ballerina Irena Matiash and premier danseur Alexander Boitsov. The husband-and-wife team also performed selections from "Swan Lake" (music by Tchaikovsky and choreography by Petipa). Fourteen-year-old Kristina Puleini and Maxim Sivyi of Ukraine performed another outstanding pas-de-deux from "Giselle," (music by Adan and choreography by Koralli).
Eighteen historical costumes, on loan from the Ukrainian National Women's League of America, Branch 64, in New York City, were modeled. The costumes were obtained through the efforts of Christina Nawrocky, president, and Lubomyra Artymyshyn, cultural affairs chairperson of Branch 64.
The majority of the costumes were replicas of garments worn by Ukrainian noblewomen between the 10th and 18th centuries. The fabrics were often silk or velvet, richly decorated with gold embroideries and/or semi-precious stones, and depicted the affluence of the period. In addition to these, there were a few costumes from the sixth century that reflected everyday garb of village women made from linen and imprinted with wood-cut patterns.
One of the oldest garments was a replica of a white Sarmatian costume from the second century B.C., which featured a blue Egyptian jasper necklace. Models dressed as Prince Volodymyr the Great and Princess Olha were the highlight of the collection exhibit. Their regal attire reflected the prosperity and power of Kyivan Rus' during the Middle Ages.
The dynamic Voloshky Ukrainian Dance Ensemble performed under the direction of lead dancer and artistic director Taras Lewyckyj. They opened their program with the traditional greeting of bread and salt and followed with the Kyivsky Hopak, a lyrical dance featuring the women of the company. Not to be upstaged by the women, three men then performed a comic dance to the delight of the audience.
The entire Voloshky Ensemble concluded its performance with a smashing rendition of the "Hopak" in colorful Poltava costumes.
In the museum's auditorium, "Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors," winner of 16 international awards and directed by Sergei Paradjanov, was presented in Ukrainian with English subtitles. The film is a masterpiece of Ukrainian folklore and embarks on an impressionistic voyage into the supernatural.
As part of the "Spotlight Tour to the Sculptures," two works of world-famous sculptor Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) were showcased by Michael Taylor, the museum's assistant curator of 20th century art, who spoke about "Archipenko in the Boudoir."
Other various events took place simultaneously during the evening. An information table, staffed by several members of the UECC board, provided brochures about the Ukrainian center and Ukrainian folk art, and displayed maps of Ukraine. Staff also answered questions about Ukraine. For 17 years the UECC has had an active outreach program that promotes Ukrainian culture in the community. Visitors to the museum also had an opportunity to participate in a raffle to win a round trip to Kyiv, courtesy of Diaspora Travel Enterprises.
A presentation and demonstration of the art of making Ukrainian Easter eggs was provided by Roksolana Gilicinski. The pysanky on display showed the designs used in different historical periods and regions in Ukraine.
For the palate there was a free sampling of Ukrainian vodka, courtesy of Spirits of Valley Forge. Other Ukrainian-style foods and drinks were available for purchase.
The television program "Windows on America" filmed the entire evening, and the program was to be broadcast in Ukraine.
Copyright © The Ukrainian Weekly, August 10, 1997, No. 32, Vol. LXV
| Home Page |