CLEVELAND – The Costume Society of America (CSA) – a national organization involved in the study, education, collection, preservation, presentation and interpretation of dress and appearance in past, present, and future societies – held its annual meeting this year in Cleveland on May 24-29. One of the features of the CSA National Symposium is the “CSA Angels Project,” a one-day event providing conservation, storage and curatorial assistance to a costume collection in the host city. For its 2016 project, CSA chose the Ukrainian Museum-Archives. Seven college professors, four professional textile conservators and more than a dozen volunteers came to the UMA to clean, catalogue and place more than 300 items into acid-free storage boxes. As part of the project, the CSA “angels” trained UMA volunteers on professional handling of precious textiles and other costume-related apparel.
In “Dark Night Bright Stars,” which has its American premiere on June 3-19 at La MaMa E.T.C. in Manhattan, Virlana Tkacz and Yara Arts Group use the relationship between Ukrainian bard Taras Shevchenko, played by Sean Eden, and the African American actor Ira Aldridge, played by Jeremy Tardy, to address themes such as serfdom/slavery, cross-cultural friendship and the meaning of home. The action takes place in St. Petersburg in 1858 after Shevchenko was set free after 10 years of imprisonment for criticizing the tsar. Then he met Aldridge who was touring Russia as a Shakespearian actor for the first time and drew his portrait. The show is based on the diary of Ekaterina Tolstoy Yunge, played enthusiastically by Maria Pleshkevich, who wrote about their relationship.
NEW YORK – On June 4, students of the Self-Reliance School of Ukrainian Studies in New York City had the unique chance to see a special performance of “Dark Night Bright Stars,” a play created by the Yara Arts Group about the friendship between the great Ukrainian poet and artist Taras Shevchenko and the acclaimed African American actor Ira Aldridge. The play explores deep and enduring questions about intercultural communication, freedom and oppression, home and art. How do individuals who don’t speak the same language find ways to communicate? How do our most essential experiences and values connect us through space and time? Talia Danysh, the school’s vice-principal, commented about the experience: “The fact that no one stirred for the entire length of the performance is a testament to the effectiveness of this brilliant play in capturing the student audience.
The exhibit “Orest Skop: Cossack Mamai,” which features 23 paintings by the Lviv artist, is on view at The Ukrainian Museum from June 12 to September 4. The mythological figure of Cossack Mamai has a very special place in the pantheon of Ukrainian folkloric and mythological images. “Sacred warrior, warrior ancestor, hero warrior, warrior-musician and warrior-philosopher” – all these uniquely Ukrainian images have become somewhat of a calling card for Ukrainian folk art. Deeply rooted in prehistoric traditions and mythology, today Ukrainian folk artists view this character as a reflection of the most typical traits and mentality of the Ukrainian Cossack – a combination of strong warrior-defender and lyrical kobza-playing bard-musician with a relaxed attitude towards life. Folk art images of Mamai reached a peak of popularity during the era of the Ukrainian Cossack state, when its paintings adorned nearly every house: from the humble dwellings of peasant farmers and Cossack warriors, to the mansions of affluent Ukrainian nobility.
DENVER – The Denver commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster was highlighted by the reading of two proclamations issued by Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Denver City Council. More than 50 people attended the hour-long event on a blustery afternoon as wind gusts tore at the many Ukrainian flags brought to the solemn event. As on previous anniversaries, the event was sponsored by the Denver chapter of the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America at a commemorative bench erected by the UNWLA shortly after the 1986 disaster. The proceedings were in English and Ukrainian. Catherine Shaw, UNWLA chapter vice-president, conducted the program in English, while Dr. Oksana Ruda Bantley, chapter member, translated into Ukrainian. Olga Bugir, UNWLA chapter treasurer, read the proclamations on the significance of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.
PATERSON, N.J. – Ukrainian American Veterans Post 17 located in Clifton/Passaic, N.J., held its annual memorial service on June 5 at Cedar Lawn Cemetery in Paterson, N.J.
Post members gathered at the post monument for a panakhyda officiated by the Rev. Oleksij Holchuk of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church. Among those attending were UAV Vice-Commander William Szozda, who participated in the ceremony with his wife, Julia, and New Jersey State Commander Michael Hrycak. After the panakhyda, Post 17 Commander Jim Fedorko conducted the UAV opening ceremony by reading a prayer. Post Adjutant Zenko Halkowycz read the names of the post’s war dead and departed members. (Sadly, this is a list that is growing.) Taps were played by a young member of the Ukrainian American Youth Association, Nazar Fedorko, and a wreath was placed at the foot of the monument by Post Vice-Commander Andriy Hadzewycz.
• Junior lightweight (super featherweight), Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1-0, 4 KO) added the WBO title to his collection after a fifth-round KO of Roman Martinez (29-3-2, 17 KO) of Puerto Rico on June 11 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Lomachenko, 28, landed a series of hits followed by an uppercut that stunned Martinez, and he followed it up with a right hand that sent the Puerto Rican to the canvas. The Ukrainian national anthem was sung by 16-year-old Ania Kosachevich, a member of Plast Ukrainian Scouting Organization and dance with Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy of Whippany, N.J.
• Cruiserweight Dmytro Kucher (24-1-1, 17 KO) won by first-round TKO against Enzo Maccarinelli (41-8-0, 33 KO) of Great Britain on June 10 at York Hall in London. Kucher claimed the EDU title with the win in a fight that was scheduled to go 12 rounds. Tennis
• The International Tennis Federation (ITF) says it has banned a Ukrainian doctor from sports for four years for administering a banned substance to a tennis player, reported RFE/RL.
Any optimism Ukraine’s national soccer team may have had following its 2-0 defeat by Germany in its Euro Cup opener quickly evaporated after a second 2-0 loss at the feet of Northern Ireland on June 15 in Lyon, France. New assistant coach Andriy Shevchenko’s “mission possible” to qualify from Group C and achieve better results than in 2012 were rendered null and void, similar to his squad’s performance on the pitch. This was a performance that mismanaged Ukraine into the dubious distinction of being the first of 24 participating nations to be eliminated from the tournament. Northern Ireland’s victory – its first in a major competition in 34 years – combined with the later 0-0 draw between Germany and Poland left Ukraine unable to advance from its group. Building on a strong finish to the first half, Northern Ireland center back Gareth McAuley put his team ahead with a header from an Oliver Norwood free kick in the 49th minute.
Poland got off to an aggressive start, missing two chances to take the lead inside the opening five minutes of the final Group C match played on June 21 at Stade Veladrome in Marseille, France. Arkadiusz Milik broke down the left side into the penalty area, but his blast was caught by goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov. Moments later, star striker Robert Lewandowski side-footed from close range after a low cross from the left found him in the penalty area. Already eliminated Ukraine struck back when Andriy Yarmolenko delivered a cross that had Poland keeper Lukasz Fabianski flapping before it was cleared. As Poland found itself backpedaling, Yevhen Konoplyanka made a fine run to set up Roman Zozulya, who was denied by a last-ditch block by Michal Pazdan.
KINGSTON, Ontario – This city marked the 125th anniversary of Ukrainian pioneer settlement in Canada as the “Lviv, Ukraine” Pavilion celebrated its 47th consecutive year as an event in Kingston, Ontario, making it one of Canada’s longest-running Ukrainian cultural festivals. Thousands of Kingstonians and out-of-town guests enjoyed performances by the Ukrainian Maky and Dorest Dancers of Kingston, under the direction of Nadia Luciuk, as well as guest performances by the Odessa Ukrainian dance ensemble of Oshawa, Ontario. Demonstrating their support for Kingston’s Ukrainian community, both the mayor, Dr. Bryan Paterson, and Member of the Provincial Parliament Sophie Kiwala attended and brought greetings from the city and the Province of Ontario. Next year the “Lviv, Ukraine” pavilion, sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Club of Kingston, will open its doors on June 9-11, continuing with this great celebration of multiculturalism and the Ukrainian Canadian heritage in Canada’s “Limestone City.” Seen in the photos here are: the Ukrainian Maky Dance Ensemble; and MPP Kiwala backstage at the pavilion.