Regions of Ukraine
"Pryvit" - the Ukrainian welcome is not a region of Ukraine but rather a traditional dance performed by all Ukrainian dance groups around the world. It is a traditional opening for all performances. "Pryvit" reflects the ancient bond between the Ukrainian people and the rich dark soil of their homeland. In this dance many regions of Ukraine may be represented, in which the dancers offer their audience bread, salt, and wheat, which is a wish to all of health, and prosperity.
Central or Poltavshchyna
Overview: This very well known sub-region lies in the south-eastern Ukraine. This area is known for it's dark rich chernozem topsoil, slow winding rivers, and fertility as far as the eye can see. The fields of central Ukraine are broad, generous producers of grain. It is a very significant area to the Ukrainian national identity because the Ukrainian language and literature were first revived here after near extinction at the end of the 18th century.
Dances: Such renowned dances as the Hopak, and Kozachok are characteristic of this region. Poltava dancers move in broad, smooth curves. These dances differ from dances of the other regions in that dancers often move individually. Not always in geometric patterns allowing greater freedom of expression.
Overview: The Podillia region is a plateau, intersected with many ravines. It is marshy land, characteristic of the large moving steps of the dances. Podillia begins on the Dnister River, the border continues down the river to the south-east city of Balta. There the border turns east into the Cherkasy, and Khmel'nyts'ka Provinces. Then heads west consuming all of the Ternopil Province and part of the Lviv Province up to the gates of Lviv City.
Dances: Dances of the Podillia region differ from most dances of Western Ukraine. This region has a mild climate and fertile soil. Not secluded like the others, and lots of room to move, the dancers take large striding steps, included with intricate stamping combinations. Dances are typically moderately paced. Dances such as Virsky's "Devyatka" and "Podolianka" are from this region.
Overview: This area lies in the north-western Ukraine between the Podillia in the west and Polissia in the north. The Buh river borders in the west. Volyn does not have a very well developed industrial base and therefore has been slow to lose it's folk culture. Many "koliadky" and "schedrivky" (Christmas and New Years carols) have been recorded along with many other elements of the old ways, have been preserved from this region.
Dances: The Volyn dance traditions have been greatly influenced by the long Polish rule. The polka, krakowiak, and mazurka, and other spinning couple dances have been prominent for generations. The hopping, and spinning steps characteristic of these dances are emphasized by the swish of the women's skirts and the lower portion of the men's jackets.
Overview: With it's six tributaries, the Pryp'iat River has formed a waterway along which relations moved between the West and Kyiv City in the east. Part of the Polissia region is below sea level. The soil is marshy, and not suitable for agriculture, but the high humidity is good for growing flax and hemp. Cattle ranching and fishing are also prominent developments. The forests and marshes isolated the population of Polissia, thereby preserving the traditional folk attire in it's ancient form, along with the ancient rituals and folk art.
Dances: Dances of Polissia are known for the tapping out of one intricate stamping rythym which is repeated throughout the dance. This stamping rhythm is called a "klooch" or key. This dance step is considered the "key" to the dance itself. High leg movements are also characteristic. Dances are usually fast paced, which may include the polka, and many of the same aspects as dances of the Volyn Region.
Overview: This region lies in Western Ukraine on the south-eastern slopes of the Carpathian mountains and in the Bukovynian foothills. The territory of Bukovyna is now divided between Ukraine and Romania. Due to the seclusion of this region, many people speak a completely different dialect of the Ukrainian language.
Dances: Dances from this region are lively, energetic, and characterized by high stepping and intricate tight foot stamping combinations. Many variants of the "hora" ( a Romanian circle dance) are now clearly a part of the Bukovynian-Ukrainian culture. Coins are often a part of the Bukovynian costume. This is due to Ukrainian superstition that the coins ward off evil spirits.
Overview: The people of this land live east and south of the Boikans. The region extends down the Romanian Territory in the east and south-east. It is located in the highest parts of the Carpathian Mountains. Many villages of the hutzul region still remain secluded and untouched by technology.
Dances: Dances from this region are commonly taught due to their lively and spirited nature. They are known for their circular patterns, and extreme energy which involves lifts, and couples spinning madly. Steps are characteristically done in a tight up and down motion rather than wide side to side motion due to the small secluded areas in the mountains.
Overview: The region of Zakarpattia (Transcarpathia) covers the presents Zakarpats'ka Province. It's irregular quadrangle covers both foothills and the fertile plain. Zakarpattia was originally part of the Kyivan State. After it's decline in the 13th century the region came under Hungarian rule until WW1. Between the 2 world wars Zakarpattia belonged to the Czechoslovakian Republic. It was during this time that the Ukrainian consciousness of the citizens of Zakarpattia was renewed.
Dances: The dances of Zakarpattia are known for their moderate paced beat. Men typically do a lot of clapping, and slapping of their bodies and boots which are aspects of both Hungarian and Czechoslovakian cultural dances. The long puffy skirts of the women are made to swish, with any slight movement of the hips or upward thrust of the knees. Traditional wedding dances such as Virsky's "Bereznyanka" and "Uzhansky Vasilny Tanetz" fall into this region.
"Pleskach" which means "to clap". This dance has a moderate tempo in which the dancers clap out syncopated rhythms while they dance, and create a kaleidoscope of color and movement.
Gypsies were known to be sinister thieves who travelled around Europe stealing belongings from anyone who crossed their paths. Every Country in Eastern Europe was known to have Gypsies. They are considered a major part of the Ukrainian culture, and are represtented by many Ukrainian dance groups. Gypsy dances are known for the intricate clapping combinations tapped out by the male dancers in which slapping anything such as a boot or the chest is used to make a sound.
Hopak is the most famous, and well known dance in the Ukrainian culture. You can expect to see a Hopak at every Ukrainian dance concert attended. The acrobatic solos of the male dancers are beautifully contrasted with the spins and grace of the females.