A Brief History of the AUUC School of Dancing


A Brief History of the AUUC School of Dancing


Information regarding the AUUC School of Dancing, now called the Dovbush School of Ukrainian Dance, from its inception in the 20's to present day.




Reproduction may be restricted. Contact AUUC.


Vancuver, BC




Information on children's Ukrainian dancing within the activities of the Vancouver Ukrainian Labour Farmer Temple Association from the twenties and thirties is scarce. From archival photos and newspaper articles we know that the first children's Ukrainian Dance Festival in Vancouver was held in the 1920's under the direction of Roman Nazarkevich. Later photos from the thirties show children's groups but information on the instructors are not available. Myron and Ben Sochasky are remembered as being possible dance instructors from the early days of the ULFTA.

In the early 1940's, Mike and Anne Kunka instructed the dance classes at the Hall. The lower hall was filled with rows of dancers, with the younger dancers in the front row and the oldest dancers in the back row. Everyone went through the basic steps as a group, and as Mike and Anne supervised, the older dancers assisted the younger ones.

When Mike and Anne left Vancouver, Hannah Bezubiak and Ed Polowy directed the dancers. In the 1950's Beatrice Bezubiak took charge of the dance classes, and lessons were remodeled to be more like those in ballet schools. Classes were organized by age range, and barre and centre work were done before routines and choreography. It could now be said that the AUUC had a true School of Dancing. Beatrice instructed senior dancers on how to teach dancing and write choreography. Beatrice, as Director of the School of Dancing, assigned classes and supervised all dance teachers.

When Beatrice left to study dance in Ukraine, the School of Dancing then passed to Joan Kowalewich, then passed to MArge Kuwica after Joan herself went to study in Ukraine. When Marge left for the Interior, Dianna Kleparchuk became the Director. In 2002, Debbie Karras became the Artistic Director of the School of Dancing and Dianna Kleparchuk became the School's Administrator.

Most recently, Laurel Lawry has taken over as Director of the School of Dancing. The School puts on a Christmas concert in December and an End of Year concert in June. The School recently delved into new territory with a dance interpretation of the Slavic folk take of "Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave". Classes at the School are taught mainly by students from the Dovbush Dancers, the senior dance group of the AUUC, as well as by Tamara Pitts, who instructs multiple dance groups across the Lower Mainland.

In 2017, the AUUC School of Dancing was renamed the Dovbush School of Ukrainian Dance.


“A Brief History of the AUUC School of Dancing,” Association of United Ukrainian Canadians - Vancouver, accessed April 18, 2021, https://auucvancouver.digitalhistoryhub.com/items/show/184.