Shumka workshops brand new piece in Camrose


When the folks at Shumka approached us with the goal to hold another residency at the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre (JPLPAC), we jumped at the chance.

For those who recall, last year Shumka performed several new pieces created by the organization’s young artists in a show called Shumka: Emerge. That event was so successful it’s returning in 2023, but this time with a special, new performance celebrating the life of renowned Ukrainian artist, Lesia Ukrainka.

Playing Friday, July 21, Shumka Emerge 2023 is going to be just as exciting as last year.

Les Sereda, artistic director for Shumka, says working with crews at the performing arts centre was such a positive experience, it’s like everyone’s part of the same creative family.

“Last year we took the approach where we were working with emerging choreographers within the company and that was a fantastic experience for our young and emerging crew to experience,” explained Sereda.

“This year we were taking a bit of a different approach. We’re developing a new show and using this residency as an opportunity to workshop a few elements of the upcoming show.”

The performance is called Lesia Ukrainka, which is expected to premiere at the Edmonton Jubilee Auditorium in April 2024. The residency in Camrose will allow Shumka creatives to delve into lighting, stage setup, and more.

“It’s a valuable opportunity to spend some time in the theatre before the performance to work on some technical aspects and see what some of our ideas will look like on a stage,” said Sereda.

He suggests it’s one thing to put these thoughts and ideas together in a boardroom and dance studio, but another thing to perform them. The residency in Camrose is the next creative step to completing the piece.

“Once you get dancers on the stage and see what the lights and the projections and all of those elements look and feel like, it starts to come together,” he said.

It’s also a great opportunity for performing arts fans to see the beginning elements of this brand-new creative piece celebrating Ukrainian culture. Indeed, Shumka commissioned Ukrainian composer Alexander Rodin to write the music for the piece, which will be recorded in Ukraine in September.

This new work has a lot of moving pieces and it’s vital to get things right before its premiere.

“We work with a number of elements in our shows. We have set pieces. We have projections. Obviously there’s lighting elements and costume elements,” explained Sereda. “To be able to workshop this before we premiere next spring and see those elements in place, it gives us the opportunity to see some of that ahead of time.”

The residency will give Shumka creatives a real-world look at the piece to know what’s working and what needs some assistance. And it will give Lougheed Centre patrons a first-look of the piece, workshopped right on the Cargill Theatre stage.

Following the workshop performance will be a question and answer period for patrons to understand the inspiration and impetus behind Lesia Ukrainka. After that will be an intermission followed by a performance of Shumka’s, A Whirlwind Summer, which was performed at festivals across the prairies including at Vegreville’s 50th Anniversary Pysanka Festival and Dauphin, Manitoba’s National Ukrainian Festival.

This performance is sponsored by Save On Foods Camrose for a second year in a row!

Join us on Friday, July 21 for a special workshop performance from Shumka.

Buy tickets here.