Yavir School & Ensemble Celebrate 45 Years of Dance

On April 21st, the Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance attracted over 300 current dancers, alumni and volunteers to celebrate 45 years of continuous Ukrainian dance with its “Boots and Bubbly Gala Fundraising Event”. Recognizing previous artistic directors, costume co-ordinators, volunteers, and dancers from each decade, the event featured music by the New Villagers, a performance by the Yavir Ensemble, a raffle and silent auction, and a 45-minute Kolomejka – an impromptu circle dance where soloists showed off their leaps, spins and combinations.

Yavir School of Ukrainian Dance is one of the oldest continuously running Ukrainian dance schools in North America, and currently has over 200 dancers. Growing from its humble roots in the basement of Slava and Myron Pastyr in 1962, the school’s studio now runs classes six days per week for 3 year olds and up, and has added girls’ technique, boys’ kozak training, and adult classes. It has also hosted “Zabava 101” (social dancing) classes that were filled to capacity.

Over the years the ensemble has performed nearby at the Living Arts Centre in Mississauga, the Hummingbird Centre and the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto, and in far-off performances in Mexico, U.S.A., Belgium, and Ukraine.

Much of the ensemble and school’s success can be attributed to the ongoing support from St. Demetrius Ukrainian Catholic Church in Etobicoke, and its pastor Father John Tataryn. Member of Parliament, Borys Wrzesnewskyj who attended the Gala festivities with his wife Lina Fedko, congratulated Yavir and paid tribute to Father John’s support of culture at St. Demetrius.

The other main ingredient to the school’s current success is the energy and enthusiasm of Artistic Director, Paul Olijnyk, a former Shumka dancer, a dance major at York University, a participant in numerous technique and choreographic workshops in Ukraine, and a frequent dance festival adjudicator. He is committed to making Ukrainian dance not only an artistic and cultural expression, but also just plain fun.

Yavir topped off its anniversary year with a sold-out year-end concert on May 12th at the St. Joseph’s Michael Power High School. Watch for Yavir Ensemble this summer in London, Ontario at the Ukrainian Festival; in New York State at the Lemko Vatra; at the Ukrainian Festival in Lehighton, Pennsylvania; and the Bloor West Festival at Harbourfront in Toronto. Yavir and Kaniv Ensembles will be in Ukraine in the summer of 2008.

Yavir always welcomes new dancers – so spin fast, jump high – catch the spirit of Ukrainian dance at Yavir. In preparation for its 50th Anniversary, Yavir invites alumni to connect by calling or emailing. For more information, call 416-243-3072, email, or visit

2007 Yavir