So I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina last month for a show with the Viter Ukrainian Dancers. The show was to be at 4 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, and was organized by Dnipro Gold Travel Company, with help from the Prosvita Ukrainian Dancers, but not everything starts on time here!
Did you know there are 12 Ukrainian dance clubs in Buenos Aires alone? I was shocked. The main dance group called Prosvita, celebrated its 85th Anniversary last year. Some of the smaller groups in the suburbs of Buenos Airies are under the Prosvita umbrella, while others like Zirka, are independent. In fact, there are Ukrainian dance groups all over Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. One couple drove 1600 kms to come and see our show. What? Yea, apparently they rarely have foreign dance groups perform here because most only go to Brazil.
Ukrainians came to Argentina and other places in South America in the late 19th century at the same time they emigrated from the far corners of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, during the first exodus. I guess you either got on the boat to Canada or South America.
So anyway, the show was sold out long before we arrived and the community gave us a wonderful reception. After the show, Prosvita hosted a big Ukrainian feast with some of the best food we had since we arrived. We did have a fantastic steak dinner the other night but we’re from Alberta so… you know…. it was ok. But the local Ukrainian community hosted such a nice night of Ukrainian music, food and drink. We launched into some singing with our musicians and theirs, which eventually morphed into a Kolomyika that lasted for quite some time.
One crazy moment in the evening was when one Canadian family realized they were related to one of the Brazilian-Ukrainian families. They just haven’t seen each other in a 100 years!
It was so strange and beautiful to be in a foreign country, where I do not understand the language (Portugese), speaking Ukrainian! Interestingly, they speak very well. I would say generally that Ukrainian has been preserved amongst 3rd and 4th generation Ukrainians better than in Canada.
As for Argentenian dance – it’s all tango, all the time! But you have to go there to experience it!