In just a few weeks, the ensemble will perform in Switzerland. We talked with Viktor Zavadskyi, managing director of the Virskiy Company Ensemble, about the program Ukrainian dancers are taking to Lugano and Aarau, about the team's work during the war and plans for the future.
Today, the National Honored Academic Dance Ensemble of Ukraine named after Pavel Virskiy (full name), despite the war, continues its activities - rehearsals continue, a new concert program is being prepared and the group continues to tour.
The ensemble brings its classical program to Switzerland. "There will be all our well-known dances - "Povzunets", "Hopak", "Sailors", "Karpaty", "Kyiv parubky", says Viktor Zavadskyi, about the upcoming concert. — We try to make the dances full of trick moments so that the audience is impressed. You need to watch the whole program, all the dances are beautiful and extremely bright."
The repertoire of the Virskiy Company ensemble is very diverse. Along with modern ones, the program includes compositions created more than 60 years ago by the founder of the ensemble, Pavel Virskiy. In 1937, Virskiy together with his colleague-choreographer Mykola Bolotov created a dance team to which the best Kyiv performers of Ukrainian folk dance were gathered. In 1955, the group became the State Dance Company Ensemble of the Ukrainian SSR, and now it is the National Honored Academic Dance Company Ensemble of Ukraine named after Pavlo Virskiy.
"The artists of the ensemble congratulate their leader Pavel Virskiy on being awarded the title of People's Artist of the USSR. November 16, 1960. Photo from the collection of the National Museum of the History of Ukraine"
Pavlo Virskiy was the artistic director of the ensemble during 1955-1975. On his initiative, members of the ensemble collected and studied Ukrainian folk traditions, rites and customs. Virsky created more than five concert programs and a series of famous choreographic compositions, for example, "We are from Ukraine", "Dolls", "Crewler" and "Hopak". Since 1980, the ensemble has been directed by Myroslav Vantukh. He modernized the program, created new dances - "Hutsulka", "Ukraino moya, Ukraine", "Karpaty" and others.
Now the ensemble has about 200 unique choreographic compositions to its credit, which convey the national flavor of different Ukrainian regions. Some of them have become a kind of Ukrainian visiting card in the world.
"Our repertoire is quite large. After the start of the full-scale invasion, we returned to the concert program productions related to heroic and patriotic themes, the struggle of Ukrainians for their independence," says Mr. Zavadskiy about the impact of the war on the ensemble's activities. — "The war had more of an impact on our work than on the repertoire. On February 24, the ensemble was in Kyiv, until that day we worked as usual. Then, for about a week, we were forced to stop working. Many of our colleagues work in Kyiv, but live in other cities. Artists went to their homes, to their parents and relatives. But we quickly found our strength and got back to work."
Already a month after the start of the full-scale invasion, the ensemble went on a "Solidarity Tour" in European cities with a small touring lineup. After returning from the tour, the everyday work began - rehearsals, preparation for new tours, later - performances in Kyiv. "Air alarms, of course, make their adjustments... The rehearsal schedule becomes "torn". All this affects the team’s physical and psychological state, particularly the ballet dancers," says Zavadskyi. Artists of the ensemble also take a direct part in the defense of Ukraine. "One of our colleagues is currently serving in the Armed Forces. He was mobilized in the first month of the full-scale invasion. This is Dmytro Cheberko, our honored artist of the orchestra. He fought for Lysychansk and Severodonetsk. Now he is undergoing military retraining, says Mr. Zavadskyi. — Unfortunately, another of our artists, Serhiy Shkvarchenko, who retired from the ensemble a few years ago, died at the frontline. We buried him a month ago."
"Along with modern ones, the program includes compositions created more than 60 years ago by the founder of the ensemble, Pavel Virskiy"
Despite all the trials and difficulties, the ensemble is working and making plans for 2023. "Intensive work is now underway. In 2023, Myroslav Vantukh, our artistic director, planned to implement "The Way to Victory" composition. All this is not being done quickly, of course... Each new composition is a lot of work and efforts of many people. Fortunately, currently all these processes have started to improve. We managed to update both shoes and elements of costumes, because some sewing companies were evacuated and resumed work in the west of Ukraine, - says Mr. Zavadskiy. — We have many plans for 2023, but now it has become more difficult to implement them. Therefore, our delay is not due to a lack of ideas, but only due to their technical implementation. But, I think, in 2023 we will bring all these ideas and plans to the big stage."
The performances of the Virskiy Company Ensemble are always bright and unique, the hard work of the entire team is on it. You can often hear from the audience that the artists of the ensemble are unsurpassed masters who overcome the force of gravity during concerts. They share the incredible energy of Ukrainian dance with everyone present. For more than 80 years, the ensemble has been protecting the traditions of Ukrainian folk dance. It is very important to popularize Ukrainian choreographic art both in the Motherland and abroad, Viktor Zavadskiy explains: "We try to make our audience admire and be interested in what they see on stage."
Photo prepared by Virskiy Company Ensemble
Concerts of the Virskiy Company Ensemble will be held in Switzerland on February 2 in the city of Lugano and on February 3 in the city of Aaru.