We’ve been working with Shumka, Canada’s Ukrainian Dancers for years, supporting their creative shows and bringing their extremely popular show, Canada’s Ukrainian Nutrcracker ballet to the Cargill Theatre stage for years now.
About every two years a huge crew of dancers and performers make our stage light up with Shumka’s rendition of the ballet. It’s among our largest stage shows that come to the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre in Camrose, which also drives interest from a large Ukrainian population in the Camrose area.
We took some time to speak with Les Sereda, artistic director for Shumka, about this performance and what it takes to make it all work.
The popular family experience will play two shows at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre: Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 9 at 2 p.m.
Each time Canada’s Ukrainian Nutcracker is performed at the theatre, we get closer to the dance company. It’s like we’ve become an extended family for each other, an idea echoed by the organization.
“We’ve had just a wonderful experience in Camrose,” explains Sereda. “It feels like a second home out there and the audience treats us like we are theirs.”
The last few years have seen increased collaboration between the Lougheed Centre and Shumka; most recently with the creation and presentation in the last two summers of a performance called Shumka: Emerge, where new works are presented. And of course, with the Canada’s Ukrainian Nutcracker by Shumka since as far back as our 2016-17 season.
“The audience is fantastic. I can’t say enough about the relationship that’s been built with Camrose and we’re just looking forward to being back again,” says Sereda.
The performance is a celebration of Ukrainian art and creativity and brings together a classical Christmas tale the whole family will enjoy. There are only three cities the show is presented in this December: the Royal Theatre in Victoria, B.C.; the Northern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium in Edmonton, and of course, the Cargill Theatre in Camrose.
Each of these theatres has the capacity to bring an event this large to the stage. Sereda says there is a company of 50 dancers, a group of singers for the choir, guest student dancers, and professional dancers coming all the way from Ukraine, plus a large set that takes time to install.
“It’s a massive show…the biggest show in our season,” explained Sereda. “There are lots of moving parts but it’s fun to see it all come together.”
“Because so much of it is rehearsed in separate pieces, the choir goes up and rehearses on their own, we rehearse the kids separately, our guests from Ukraine are rehearsing over there. It’s not really until the week before we hit the stage that we see it all come together, which can be a little stressful for the artistic team, but it’s exciting when you see all of those pieces fall in place,” he said.
On top of an extremely large set, the company has also updated older stage pieces for safety reasons. Sereda said that some of them were built 30 years ago and he’s excited to see updated pieces on stage.
Canada’s Ukrainian Nutcracker is presented by Shumka and is a special presentation with both performances being show-sponsored by Wild Rose Co-op. Our media sponsors are 840 CFCW and New Country 98.1.