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New Documentary Explores Ukrainian Folk Dancing in North America

24. February 2011 by Christy 0 Comments

Folk!, a new documentary directed by Roxy Toporowych, is the story of Ukrainian prima ballerina Roma Pryma Bohachevsky and the North American dancers she trained in the art of Ukrainian folk dance. Bohachevsky, who studied dance in Ukraine and Italy, was one of the first dancers to introduce ballet-style Ukrainian folk dance to Canada and the United States.

“Basically when I met her, I couldn’t believe that no one had actually done a film about her,” Toporowych told The Epoch Times.

A budding filmmaker and experienced Ukrainian folk dancer, Toporowych began taking classes under the great Bohachevsky in 2001, recording her experiences on camera. Toporowych shot Bohachevsky preparing for her 40th anniversary gala, an event two years in the making, and the sorrow and grief Bohachevsky’s students experienced when the dance master died of cancer just a few months before the big performance.

“I wasn’t sure what I was going to do,” Toporowych said. “I got permission and I spoke with her family…everybody said, ‘Go ahead keep shooting.'"

So she did. Toporowych brought her camera to rehearsals, interviewing dancers whenever she had the chance. However, even though filming was complete in 2004 Toporowych needed six more years to actually produce the documentary.

“When you work on a project this long there comes a point where you’re just sick of it, and you can’t look at it, you can’t watch it. And you’re so overwhelmed by the amount of work that you can’t even stomach thinking about it,” Toporowych said.

“Then you get past that. Then you start realizing that, you know, I made something, and I produced it and it took lots of blood and tears and a long time and I should be proud of it and I should love it.”

Folk! remieres in Toronto on February 26 with screenings in Saskatoon, Edmonton, and other Canadian and American cities to soon follow.