Vasyl Avramenko

XVIII pagePoland, CanadaArt

A master of Ukrainian folk dance, the founder of the new trend in modem dancing art – stage folk choreography, through which the nature of Ukrainian character opened to the full extent.

He was born in the village of Stebliov (now Cherkasy oblast) and went to the village school. Together with his brothers, he moved to Vladivostok in the hope of earning a living there, and took the external degree of a public teacher. During World War I he served as ensign in the Russian Army. In 1917, Vasyl moved to Kyiv, where supported by S. Rusova and L. Starytska-Cherniakhivska, he entered the M. Lysenko’s School of Music and Drama and became an actor in the M. Sadovsky’s Theatre.

After the defeat of the Ukrainian People’s Republic V… Avramenko found himself in western Poland. There, he organised the Central traveling school of Ukrainian folk dance with sub­ sidiaries in Lviv, Lutsk, Kremenchuk, Rivne, Kholm. He toured with performances throughout Volhynia, Galicia, Polissia, and Kholmschyna. In 1925, he went to Canada, following an invitation from the local Ukrainian community, and settled in Toronto, where he opened a number of circles and a school of folk dance.

In his art V. Avramenko made a departure from traditional dancing divertissements, creat­ ing new genres of the choreographic show. His performances bordered on the genres of ballet-poem and ballet-symphony, depicting the histor­ ical destinies of the Ukrainian people (ballet pro­ ductions Easter in Ukraine; For Ukraine, and Sich Under Otaman Sirko). Ballet, music, theatre, choral singing, and later cinema art were intertwined in choreographic performances by V. Avramenko. His famous Hopak was triumphantly performed at the Metropolitan Opera.

V. Avramenko used a variety of forms of folk-dancing and scenic plastic movements, ingen­ iously combining solo, duet, ensemble, and mass dancing into single ballet scenario. His dances are characterised by a dramatic intensity, distinct dancing technique, internal tension and at the same time by exquisite lyricism. The master’s dancing compositions Gonta; Chumak, and Arkan From Kolomyia became classical.

In 1936–37, V. Avramenko organised the Ukrainian film studio in New York, where he cre­ ated his opera films Natalka Poltavka; Zaporozhian Cossack beyond the Danube; Marusia Bohuslavka. His film The Triumph of Ukrainian Dance was a tremendous success with the audiences of America and Europe.

Artistic efforts of V. Avramenko are insepara­ ble from his organisational activity and teaching. During the 1920–50 s he founded schools of Ukrainian folk dance in Argentina, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and Israel. The artist generalised his unique practical experience of a dancer and choreographer in the fundamental work Ukrainian National Dances, Music and Attire.