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Gordon Gordey, director and dancemaker: Creating original Ukrainian dance in Canada
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Girl in red dress tango

Gordon Gordey documents his dance concepts and libretto, including performance photographs, for the creation of the original dance theatre work Girl in the Red Dress TANGO. Created for the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada.

First Draft Concept/Libretto was created in 2006.
Premiere Performance, Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton: November 10, 2007.

Gordon Gordey, director and dancemaker: Creating original Ukrainian dance in Canada

  • CA BMUFA 0050
  • Collection
  • 1996-2016

Gordon Gordey autobiographical reflection of a 40-year creative journey with The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada recounts his experiences creating his original artistic works with The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada. By documenting his dance concepts and librettos Gordey reveals his challenge to contribute original works to the canon of Ukrainian dance that is spiritually connected to generations of continuous cultural practice and resonates with 20th and 21st century audiences in Canada, Ukraine, Russia, and China. He speaks to evolving dance stories that embed themselves in viewer’s minds and become shared cultural touchstones in the evolution of our Canadian identity at home and abroad. Dance concepts and librettos for: Shumka’s Cinderella, Pathways to Hopak, Girl in the Red Dress TANGO, Vechornytsi (the multi-works in Life is a Cabaret), Eve of Kupalo - a Midsummer’s Night Mystery Masque and Voices of the Silenced are enhanced with photographs and video excerpts of the dances in performance.

This work was published in Ukrainian as a peer reviewed chapter in Collected Papers on Ukrainian Life in Western Canada, edited by V. Polkovsky and M. Soroka, Ostroh Academy National University Press, 2014, Vol. XLVII, Part Seven, pp. 242-275. All rights reserved. The English text was revised in 2016 for the deposit into the Archives. We have digital and physical access copies.

Gordey, Gordon

Kupalo

Gordon Gordey documents his dance libretto and director’s vision in Ukrainain, including performance photographs, for the creation of a contemporary original dance theatre work titled Eve of Kupalo - a Midsummer’s Night Mystery Masque. This dancework was created for The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada. Eve of Kupalo – a Midsummer’s Night Mystery Masque premiered at the 2,700 seat Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada on March 19, 2009. Since then it has toured across Canada and has toured to China, where it played 22 performances in major theatres in 14 cities carrying the Kupalo metaphor of the spirituality of renewal, ritual, and love.

First Draft Concept/Libretto was created in 2007.
Premiere Performance, Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton: March 19, 2009.

Pathways to hopak

Gordon Gordey documents his dance concept and director’s vision, including performance photographs, for the creation of the contemporary original dance theatre work Pathways to Hopak. Libretto and choreography were undertaken by Viktor Lytvynov. Set and costume design by Maria Levytski. The dancework was created for The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada.

First Draft Concept/Libretto was created in 2002.
Premiere Performance, Canada Dance Festival at National Arts Centre, Ottawa: June 12, 2004.

Shumka remembers

This dancework was created for The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada and received its premiere at the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium on November 11, 2006. Shumka Remembers is multi-media dancework tribute to those who served and those who wished to serve in world conflicts. It was directed for the stage by Gordon Gordey, with Canadian modern dance choreographer Brian Webb and Shumka’s Resident Choreographer, Dave Ganert, and was danced by the Shumka company. The stage performance included guest appearances by Nicholas Faryna, an active service Afghanistan veteran and Bill Rawluk, a WWII veteran. The presence in the performance of these soldiers linked soldiers from WWI to those of more recent times and the present. The music for this dancework came from the repertoire of Winnipeg singer, Alexis Kochan and her musicians: Paris to Kyiv. Her haunting voice for There is a Gravemound in the Field (Oj U Poli Mohyla) was a cornerstone for the dramatic emotion in Shumka Remembers. The video of Shumka Remembers was shown in Kyiv on Remembrance Day 2008 under the patronage of Canada’s former ambassador to Ukraine, Abina Dann. Shumka Remembers is a tribute to the unjust internment of Ukrainian Canadians as “enemy aliens” in Canada during WWI. These “enemy aliens” were subjected to having to carry registration identity papers, often pay monthly registration fees, and were under constant surveillance. Of the 80,000 who were registered under the authority of the Act, 8,579 were deemed: “enemy aliens”. The majority of “enemy aliens” were Ukrainians and were arrested and interned in 26 makeshift encampments located mostly in Canada’s frontier hinterlands. They were forced into hard labour clearing land for roads, building bridges, and building the railway.

First Draft Concept/Libretto for Shumka Remembers, the original work that led to Voices of the Silenced, was created in 2003.
Shumka Remembers - Premiere Performance, Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton: November 11, 2006.

Shumka remembers dance exerpt

Video performance excerpts for a contemporary original dance theatre work titled Shumka Remembers, conceived and directed by Gordon Gordey. Video excerpt contains commentary from Gordon Gordey at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village, Alberta, Canada. This dancework was created for The Ukrainian Shumka Dancers of Canada. Shumka Remembers is a contemporary Ukrainian Canadian narrative folk dance theatre work with video exploring the unjust internment of Ukrainian Canadians as “enemy aliens” in Canada during WWI. These “enemy aliens” were subjected to having to carry registration identity papers, often pay monthly registration fees, and were under constant surveillance. Of the 80,000 who were registered under the authority of the Act, 8,579 were deemed: “enemy aliens”. The majority of “enemy aliens” were Ukrainians and were arrested and interned in 26 makeshift encampments located mostly in Canada’s frontier hinterlands. They were forced into hard labour clearing land for roads, building bridges, and building the railway.

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