June 5, 2015

Australia’s Lehenda Ukrainian Dance Company bringing its new production to North America


MELBOURNE, Australia – Fresh from performing sell-out shows throughout Australia, Lehenda Ukrainian Dance Company is bringing its spellbinding new production “Kazka” to Canada and the United States this summer.

Lehenda, the exciting new Kozak dance phenomenon from Down Under, will tour from June 29 to July 12, and will be performing in Toronto, Chicago, Wilmington, Del., New York and at the Ukrainian Cultural Festival at the Soyuzivka Heritage Center.

“A fairytale of love, loss …and a mysterious blue fox” – that’s the intriguing description of the theme for “Kazka,” an original folk ballet inspired by traditional Ukrainian fairytales. The contemporary dance production is the creation of Producer and Artistic Director Melanie Moravski Dechnicz, one of only two Australian-born recipients of the Ukrainian president’s Merited Artist of Ukraine award.

In producing “Kazka,” Ms. Dechnicz presents a new and unique full-length folk ballet that captivates and engages young and old alike. For the dancers of the Melbourne-based company, it provides an extraordinary opportunity to showcase traditional Ukrainian dance and folklore in a fresh and creative way. It is a tale of love, betrayal and supernatural spirits, where woodland creatures dance in the moonlight and young maidens toss garlands of flowers into a river to foretell whence their lover will appear.

“Kazka” is the creation of a group of talented young Australian Ukrainians, including the acclaimed composer, conductor and New York resident Nicholas Buc, who created the original score in between touring and conducting Disney’s “Pixar in Concert, Psycho and Star Trek: Live in Concert.” Also based in New York is the production’s set and graphic designer, Stephan Moravski, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, who currently assists opera set designer Paul Steinberg and works as a studio designer at Tiffany & Co.

Making “Kazka” a reality has been a passionate undertaking by a team of around 60 individuals, who have come together voluntarily with a common vision to promote their rich culture and heritage through dance.

It is this love of Ukrainian dance that inspired these dedicated dancers to come together in February last year to join the newly formed Lehenda. The majority of dancers are young members of Ukrainian communities in Melbourne and Geelong, as well as non-Ukrainians from a diverse range of dance backgrounds and experience.

In just one year Lehenda has quickly risen to become Australia’s premier Ukrainian dance ensemble. It is a young and energetic team that has, in a short period of time, developed a reputation for its professionalism, smart choreography and a love of performance. It is these attributes that see Lehenda regularly invited to perform at high-profile mainstream arts events, such as the Piers Festival, Melbourne Fringe Festival and White Night Melbourne.

As Lehenda’s first full-length production, “Kazka” is a huge and exciting undertaking for its dancers and production partners. Not only do the dancers rehearse an average of two to three times a week, but they also volunteer their time assisting in the construction of sets and the making of props. Even friends and parents of dancers have become involved, volunteering their time and offering hands-on assistance with costumes and props.

So come see the blue fox dance and experience a supernatural tale of romance and misfortune. Performances will be presented in: the Toronto area – Monday, June 29, at Hammerson Hall, Living Arts Center, Mississauga; the Chicago area – Thursday, July 2, at North Shore Center for Performing Arts, Skokie; Wilmington – Tuesday, July 7, at Copeland Hall, Grand Opera House; and New York – Thursday, July 9, at Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

Tickets: are $35 for adults, $25 for students and seniors, and $20 for children under age 12.

For more information, visit lehenda.com/kazka; for bookings see lehenda.com/kazkabookings.