Festive steps from around the globe

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD, VINOK WORLDANCE, 11727 Kingsway Ave., November 15-19, for info call 454-3739.

Everyone gets excited at Christmas and Leanne Koziak, Executive Director of Vinok Worldance, is no exception. “Christmas Around the World is our version of The Nutcracker,” she says of Vinok’s annual event. “Every year, we change the program to show Christmas and Hanukkah and different celebrations from around the world.”

Hosted by actor/singer Timothy J. Anderson, the evening promises festive dances from Spain, Ukraine, Ireland, Newfoundland, Mexico, Turkey and a traditional Hasidic Jewish piece. So many different styles from so many places poses a challenge to the dancers.

“The big thing is being able to switch gears, it’s like switching languages. There are different postures and steps and the way you hold your hands, for example. It’s a matter of rehearsing and being familiar with the stylistic nuances.”

Koziak, along with co-founder Doyle Marko, brought the idea of a dance company that performs an entire world of folk dances from Europe, where they were performing and studying. It seemed like a natural fit when they returned. “We thought Canada being such a multicultural society, it would be an excellent place for a company like that.”

While they learned several dances during the course of their global travels, sometimes Edmonton is just as good a place to discover the world. “Someone from Zimbabwe who was studying at Grant MacEwan College, saw one of our shows, and he contacted us and created a dance for us,” she says. Likewise, Vinok hopes to take audiences on a virtual round-the-world trip during the evening, which not only includes the dancing, but also a dinner and storytelling.

“That’s part of what Timothy does. He talks about the traditions and stories, so you get a cultural immersion. With this project, we do talk about holidays that happen at that time of year, not just Christmas. Everybody who has winter tends to have a winter celebration, so we try to incorporate those too.”