About the Verkhovyna Ensemble
The Verkhovyna Ukrainian Song and Dance Ensemble's goal is to promote the Ukrainian culture and increase awareness of the Ukrainian heritage. Verkhovyna thrives on enabling their own members, audiences, and the community to build friendships, a sense of belonging and an extended family.
The Verkhovyna Ukrainian Song and Dance Ensemble is a unique Ukrainian Ensemble, which has the ability to combine forces and blend Ukrainian Song and Dance in ambitious and exciting ways.
The Verkhovyna Ukrainian Song and Dance Ensemble is the cultural arm of the Edmonton branch of the Ukrainian Youth Association of Canada (CYM). A broad spectrum of the Ukrainian community is represented within the ensemble, from Ukrainians new to Canada to fourth generation Ukrainian Canadians.
The Ensemble is comprised of three groups, the Verkhovyna Choir, Dunai Dancers, and Verkhovyna Ensemble School of Ukrainian dance. The Verkhovyna Choir and Dunai Dancers have toured together as an ensemble, as well as performed separately, for appreciative audiences in Canada, The United States of America, Brazil, Costa Rica and Eastern Europe.
Shawn Ostafie - Dunai Dancers Artistic Director
Shawn first joined the Verkhovyna Ensemble as a Dance School Instructor in 2010 and then became part of Dunai's Artistic team in 2012.
Shawn brought with him a wealth of experience! Having completed both the Diploma of Music and Diploma of Dance at Grant MacEwan, he began teaching Ukrainian dancing in Manitoba and Saskatchewan in 1999 and has been busy teaching and conducting workshops in these provinces since. As a former member of Vohon, Shawn also had the opportunity to travel the world on many tours.
Shawn is also a very talented musician who has been a member of Millenia for the last 5 years and his instrumental repetoire includes the accordian, tsymbaly, piano, drums, guitar, bass, just to name a few! Shawn has also had the opportunity apprentice with the Unist State Ukrainian Dance Ensemble in Ukraine to refine his knowledge of Ukrainian dance.
Since joining the Dunai Dancers, Shawn has taken the group to New York's Soyuzivka Festival (2013), Vegreville's Pysanka Festival (2014) and on an international anniversary tour (The Dream) to Argentina and Brazil (2014). Shawn is a valued member of the instructional team who brings unmatched enthusiasm and passion for Ukrainian Dance!
Orest Soltykevych - Verkhovyna Choir Conductor
Born and raised in Edmonton, Orest Soltykevych started his musical career studying piano to the Grade 9 level. He continued his musical studies at the University of Alberta, and completed his Bachelor of Education with a major in secondary music.
Orest has been active with Ukrainian choirs since the age of 15, when he first had a chance to accompany the Ukrainian Orthodox Youth (CYMK) Choir. He then joined that choir as a singer, and also sang in and accompanied the Dnipro Choir.
In 1984, Orest became the founding conductor of the Ukrainian Male Chorus of Edmonton, and continues to be its artistic director to this day. In 1986, Orest became the conductor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Youth (CYMK) Choir, and led that ensemble for 7 years. Orest has also been the assistant conductor of the St Andrew's Ukrainian Orthodox Parish Choir for the past 4 years.
In recent years, Orest has sung with the Richard Eaton Singers and the Da Camera Singers, and the Kappella Kyrie Slavic Choir.
Orest served as a member and later as president of the Ukrainian Music Society for 10 years. In 1999, he founded the radio program "Sounds Ukrainian" on the university radio station CJSR, and hosted the program for 7 years. Currently, Orest hosts the classical music programs Saturday Breakfast and Sunday Breakfast on the CKUA Radio Network, which broadcasts throughout Alberta.
Orest recently retired from Edmonton Public Schools after 32 years of teaching and administration.
2014 - Argentina & Brazil
2009 - Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Poland, Bosnia, Hungary, Austria)
2004 - Costa Rica
1999 - Brazil
1994 - USA