Montreal’s Hip Hop Hopak Outstanding Success

Montreal (CUSU/MUSA) - The first ever dance competition between break-dancing and Ukrainian dancing, called “Hip Hop Hopak” was held in Montreal on Saturday, March 27, 2010, as a fundraiser for Help Us Help The Children for orphan children in Ukraine. The event was organized by the Concordia Ukrainian Students’ Union (CUSU), the McGill Ukrainian Students’ Association (MUSA) with the Ukrainian National Youth Federation (UNYF-MUNO). Over 300 people attended.

The idea originated with CUSU Media Coordinator, Adriana Luhovy, who was always struck by some similarities in the dancing moves within the two different dance styles and thought it would be interesting to bring the two together.

The Shevchenko Foundation and Caisse populaire Desjardins Ukrainienne de Montreal generously supported “Hip Hop Hopak”. Their quick commitment and financial contribution permitted the students to begin planning. Two professional groups were invited to participate, The Syzokryli Dance Ensemble from New York, and the Montreal breakdancers The Deadly Venoms. Both groups have travelled extensively with their dancing. The Ukrainian National Federation provided the hall at no charge. The venue was so effectively transformed with light and sound equipment arranged by Stefan Usyk that the interior dcor added a special atmosphere to the event. Free radio publicity was given by Simon Kouklewsky of “Ukrajins’kyj Chas” radio program. Also supporting, were Zytynsky Deli for discounted varenyky, and Holiday Inn Midtown Montreal.

The dance competition had various components, which included an opening group dance, followed by a “battle”/challenges dance type by groups, or one-on-one, with each dance group displaying their most creative and difficult steps. At the end of the competition segment, each group tried to teach each other three different step combinations, as the audience watched. It was an outreach and blending of two different cultures. The closeness created between the two dance groups was visible. This spilled out into the audience and a wonderful, exciting atmosphere was created and carried throughout the entire evening. The winner was chosen by a judging committee as well as, by an audience vote conducted by means of two separate buckets passed around the audience to toss in their coins. The bucket with the most money in the end indicated the audience’s choice of winner. These contributions went towards the event’s fundraising for HUHTC.

The masters of ceremonies for the evening, speaking interchangeably in Ukrainian, English and French, were Anastasia Kyva, a law student at the University of Montreal and Tanya Bednarczyk a public relations student at McGill University.

Many volunteers from CUSU, MUSA and UNYF worked tirelessly during the entire day to ensure all went smoothly. The main organizing committee included event coordinator and communications student Adriana Luhovy, with Alyssa Paterson, Artem Luhovy, Vivian Zabuga, Marta Cybulska, Vera Zabeida, Bohdan Koval, Olesya Akhtemiychuk, Tanya Bedarczyk and Anastasia Kyva who worked with great dedication to stage the event. Included among the other volunteers are Andrij Kostiv as the entire evening’s DJ, Kalyna Franko, Stephan Mota, Ostap Lyakh and Nick Saldan. Art work on the Hip Hop Hopak theme was painted by Andrij Kostiv from Argentina now living in Montreal, Stephan Fydyshyn, and Oriana Iwaniuta of Paris now studying in Montreal. Their works were displayed in the main entrance. Also assisting was Mykhailo Zelman, UNF caretaker, who helped solve any unforeseen needs in setting up the event.

Besides coordinating the event, Adriana Luhovy designed the poster, tickets, prepared the Hip Hop Hopak programme booklet, special award plaques for the various categories of participants including dancers awards, and a video clip on YouTube. The program booklet included information about the history of Ukrainian dance in Quebec from the 1920s which began with the arrival of dance instructor and choreographer Vasyl Avramenko originally from Kyiv via Western Ukraine to Canada. The evening was filmed by Concordia University Television (CUTV) and

Prior to “Hip Hop Hopak”, Vivian Zabuga, President of CUSU, organized the student’s annual Wine and Cheese event with entertainment, which lasted until the beginning of “Hip Hop Hopak”. Also performing were the local Montreal Marunczak and Troyanka dance groups. During the evening, varenyky were sold as part of the fundraising and raffle prizes were arranged with gifts bought at discount prices at major outlets.

Every summer, university students from CUSU and MUSA volunteer to work with orphan children in Ukraine. Past participants included Johanna Paquin, Melania Czolij, Anna Shabotynsky and Artem Luhovy from MUSA and Adriana Luhovy and Tanya Bednarczyk from CUSU. Comments following the event praised the dance competition fundraising project. The audience found it daring, as never before was such an idea conceived and so professionally executed by university student volunteers. Montrealers are still talking about it, while many others are posting their comments on Facebook. It was a unique experience for all who attended the unforgettable “Hip Hop Hopak” dance competition. Toronto is now planning to organize a similar event this coming fall. For more information refer to CUSU’s website


Links to More Photos from Puerto Rico....

Eric Gabriel (Thank you Eric for some of the photos displayed above!)

Bob Brussack (Go to Travel and then Puerto Rico)

Copyright © 2008-2012 Syzokryli Ukrainian Dance Ensemble. All Rights Reserved. | Credits
Partially Sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts.