In Ukraine, seasons are 3 months. The beginning of March, the 1st, marks the first day of spring. This also was the beginning of our time in Lutsk.

Lutsk is a city in the North Western region of Ukraine, and the centre of the Volyn Oblast. For two months we are here dancing with the Volyn State Choir and Ensemble. Incredibly talented and upbeat, the group has warmly welcomed us. The dancers are under the Artistic Direction of Valeriy Smirnov, an honoured artist of Ukraine, who we are very fortunate to learn from. The Ensemble showcases various dances of the Volyn and surrounding regions of Ukraine, and of course traditional classics such as Hopak.

Lutsk in March has been beautiful and eventful. In our our first week we attended both of the Ensembles “Весна “ (spring) concerts. The first show we enjoyed from backstage, observing behind the scenes. The second show we were part of the audience. The ensemble is well known for their upbeat and fun choreography. What joy for us to watch it being performed and to be learning it. Here just like in Chernivtsi the State Ensemble is a combination of choir, dancers and orchestra. It’s the most amazing blend of singing, dance and music. They create the most beautiful experience. We have so many amazing moments. A surreal feeling that we are part off this life. Watching the choir rehearse or wandering through a market where you can buy everything from vyshyvanky and sparkly shoes to walnuts and fresh milk. The lifestyle and culture we are experiencing is changing us, who we are forever and so much we will never forget.

Dancing is a huge part of our trip but the daily life experiences we have exploring each different city and living like locals is the most unique experience. We continue to study the Ukrainian language, and although it is a challenge we keep on and learn the fun lingo that vary from city to city. Something we have all found very interesting about learning the language, is that it really can differ from city to city. By the end of this year we will be fluent with terms and lingo from all over Ukraine. Examples such as, saying “прошу (proshy)” in Lviv to always saying “щасливо (shaslivo) here in Lutsk. Each city has certain words and phrases almost specific to each region, similar to the different dance regions of Ukraine, the language is much the same.

These smaller cities have so much to offer. The markets, restaurants, pedestrian streets with performers. So much culture, vibrancy and full of life. Here in Lutsk an beautiful castle is part of the downtown core. The Lubart’s Castle is a mid 14th century fortress standing tall over the Stry river that runs through Lutsk. It is a prominent landmark in the city and it also appears on the 200 hryvnia bill.

Our second last city is half over. Looking back now, we have experienced and learned so much. We still have three more months of our time in Ukraine and a few more holiday celebrations to be apart of.

Easter is upon us and just like Christmas the celebrations are vast here in Ukraine. I will soon be sharing all that we take in here for Easter

written by – Kaitlyn Kruk