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SHS IB Dancers Get Firsthand Tutorial on Ukrainian Folk Dance

Dancers in rehearsalThe auditorium is alive with dips, toe-heel movements, foot stomps and steps back and forth. It’s Ukrainian folk dancing, a fast paced, lively, and energetic display with graceful twirling and sweeping motions. 

This month, students in the Somers High School IB Dance class are learning this beautiful form of dance from the master – Orlando Pagan, Artistic Director of the world renowned Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. Pagan has been visiting the IB dance class to teach students a traditional Ukrainian folk dance.

Pagan is leading four one-hour lessons to teach the IB dancers the traditional dance from Central Ukraine. The dance incorporates solo work and pairs dancing where they wind around each other in a box formation. They have picked it quickly.

Dancers with choreographer on stage“I think having ballet training makes it a little easier,” said Maddie Lyle. “Some of the steps are similar to ballet steps. It has its own uniqueness, but it also incorporates some of what we already know.” Lyle said she has seen Ukrainian Folk Dancing before but had not danced it herself. “Being able to actually do it here in this class at SHS is really fun.”

Student Ashley Vukaj agreed and said classical ballet training definitely helped in learning this type of dancing. “Ukrainian folk dance is really fast paced and there is a lot of cardio involved,” Vukaj said. 

IB Dance teacher Cheryl Rinaldi said the students enjoy learning this traditional Ukrainian folk dancing and she is happy that Pagan could come back to SHS after several years. “We first had him come a few years ago to demonstrate and teach,” she said. “This type of dance is filled with beautiful and festivity.”

Dancers with choreographer on stagePrior to the visit, IB Dance students watched videos on traditional Ukrainian folk dance and learned about Pagan, a classically trained ballet dancer from the Bronx who stumbled into Ukrainian dancing as a youth and never looked back. Pagan said he fell in love with Ukrainian dance and is thrilled to be able to share it all over the world.


May 12, 2022