Edmonton – Ukrainian Shumka Dancers are pleased to announce Les Sereda will be joining the artistic team as Senior Creative Director. “We are very excited to welcome Les to the artistic helm of the company,” says Executive Director, Darka Tarnawsky. “Our artistic team accomplished much over the last two years including two world premieres. One of these all-new productions – Mosquito’s Wedding– was directed by Les. He is a talented artist with a solid vision for the organization’s continued development. This, with his passion and respect for Ukrainian dance and his philosophy of being a team player, fits well with Shumka at this exciting stage of our existence. Les will play a major role in the organization’s upcoming 60th anniversary performances and activities, and I’m very excited to be working with him in this new capacity.”
After two successful years, Artistic Associate, Joseph Hoffman, will be stepping down from his role. “At the same time, I am sad to see former Artistic Associate Joseph Hoffman go,” says Tarnawsky. “Joe’s hard work and artistic insight as a director of Shumka’s Ancestors & Elders will forever be his legacy. I am hopeful he will come back to the Shumka artistic team in the future to continue his passion. His work was groundbreaking and insightful for our audiences…and for all of us who worked on the project with him. I thank Joe for his artistic perseverance and leadership in this unique collaboration between Shumka and a number of local Indigenous artists.Ancestors & Elders successfully tackled difficult subject matter through dance, and managed to leave audiences with a hopeful outlook for the future.”
Tasha Orysiuk and Paul Olijnyk will continue their work as Creative Directors for the company. Alyssa Eugenio will join the team as Artistic Coordinator, a new position to assist with administration.
Senior Creative Director
Les Sereda, Ukrainian Shumka Dancers
Les began his dance career at the age of 12 and joined Shumka four years later. Throughout his ten years in the company, he had the privilege of working with such artists as John Pichlyk, Viktor Lytvynov, Brian Webb and Yuri Shevchenko. He toured Canada and the United States in Shumka’s productions of Absolutely Shumka and Cinderella and was honored to be one of the performers in Sulyma Productions’ The Nutcracker, A Ballet Fantasy for three consecutive years. During Shumka’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, he received a Membership with Distinction award from Shumka for his ongoing dedication to the company.In 1993 Les trained at the Ukrainian Academy of Dance in Lviv, Ukraine, focusing on both ballet and character training along with regional chorography and music. This immersive experience was a guiding force, influencing his future artistic journey and ongoing commitment to the art form.Over the years, Les developed a truly collaborative spirit, forging relationships with international artists to create original choreography, music, projections and costumes that have influenced the evolving world vision of Ukrainian dance. Serving as the Artistic Director of Viter Ukrainian Dancers from 2004 to 2010, his direction forged new ground for the company guiding the creation of the song and dance style that is a hallmark of the ensemble today.In 2018, Les directed Shumka’s newest work, Mosquito’s Wedding: All You Need is Love. An enchanting Disney-esque production with a relevant universal message for today, it successfully speaks to audiences of all ages and backgrounds.Les is also owner, director and producer of Blue Toque Productions, an Edmonton based media company specializing in telling stories through documentary-style films. Currently, Les is completing a behind-the-scenes documentary on the journey to Shumka’s Ancestors & Elders.Through his years of experience as a dancer, choreographer, director, visual designer and film maker, Les has developed a holistic sense of art and its creation. With a deep respect for Shumka’s 60-year history, he is ready to take the company into the future…changing its leaves while keeping intact its roots.
Mosquito’s Wedding, Directed by Les Sereda
Shumka means “whirlwind,” a powerful display of artistry, energy and passion. With 60 years of performance history, that word has shaped the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers’ signature dance style. While maintaining deep respect for their heritage, Shumka continually challenges conventional boundaries to define the Ukrainian Canadian experience in a current artistic context. From official performances for Prime Ministers, Presidents, and Queen Elizabeth II, to national and international television broadcasts, Shumka has often been called upon to represent the internationalization of Canadian culture.In addition to the performing company, Shumka operates the Shumka School of Dance, providing high-level multidisciplinary dance instruction to hundreds of youth annually. The School utilizes the only recognized Ukrainian Dance Syllabus in North America, developed by Shumka over the past two decades.Along with Alberta Ballet and Edmonton Opera, Shumka is honoured to be a resident company of the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium. Shumka operates and rehearses in Edmonton’s Shumka Dance Centre, located between the Ice District and Brewery District, in the heart of downtown Edmonton.For more information, visit Shumka.com.