UW-Stout: Area ballet company to lead Ukrainian cultural event April 19

A special event featuring Ukrainian folk dances and poetry will be held at University of Wisconsin-Stout to help students and area residents connect with the culture of the eastern European nation.

The program, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, will be from 6:15 to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19, at the Terrace on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center. Admission is free, and the event is open to the public.

Ganna Berge, a lecturer in UW-Stout’s mathematics, statistics and computer science department, will lead dancers from her studio, Swan Lake Ballet and Ganna Ensemble of Eau Claire.

A total of seven dances will be performed by eight children from Swan Lake Ballet and three adults from Ganna Ensemble. They are “Hopak 1, 2 and 3,” “Oh, In the Cherry Orchard,” “Wild Dancing,” “Kolomeyka” and “Dear Mine.”

“Hopak” is a popular dance in Ukraine and is performed often at weddings and festivals.

Berge, who has owned the studio since 2011, also will perform. She was born in Crimea, a peninsula that borders Ukraine and Russia. Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014.

“I don’t want someone to completely erase my nationality, and that’s what they’re trying to do,” Berge said. “It’s a scary thing, like my nationality never existed.

“This is a chance to learn more about Ukraine through language and dance,” she said.

Berge has taught at UW-Stout since 2013.

She was a ballet dancer in high school in Houston, Texas, with the Bay Area Houston Ballet Theater. She has a minor in dance from UW-Eau Claire.

Berge will be one of the dancers at the event and will recite poetry in Ukrainian.

Those in attendance will have the opportunity to dance “and learn some new moves” at the end of the program, Berge said.

Several area residents who are native Ukrainian and a UW-Stout student originally from Ukraine plan to attend.

The event is sponsored by UW-Stout’s International Club and Office of International Education and supported by the College of Education, Hospitality, Health and Human Sciences.