In 2007, The Ukrainian Academy of Dance celebrated it’s 20th anniversary of ukrainian dance instruction in Toronto and published a limited-edition book to commemorate this historic event: In the Dancing Spirit… Celebrating 20 years of The Ukrainian Academy of Dance. Having been a dancer and office assistant at the Academy for many years, the school’s history was deeply intertwined with my own, and I was grateful to be a part of preserving this dynamic organization’s legacy.
The school was at a crossroads at the time – it’s home, Stefura Dance Studios, was being slated for demolition (more condos!) and they were moving to a new facility, merging with an existing studio. The change was daunting, the future unsure, and it was crucially important to preserve the school’s colourful past.
Projects like this really inspire me – a long document that tells a story, reflects on the past, inspires a new generation… they need careful attention to detail, a keen eye to draw out elements of a rich history and sift through decades of photos and memories, and overall, a good sense of how to bring it all together into one fine package.
Working with a volunteer committee of copy-writers, editors and “memory collectors”, this 64-page, full-colour book documented the first 20 years of the school’s history, as well as personal memoirs of dancers past & present. Over the course of six months, we collected photos and memories from dancers and alumni, beginning with a mailing package to the school’s 1000+ students that included a return postcard to submit stories and memories.
One of the senior dancers was studying photography at the time and I commissioned her help with photographing a cover image as well as documenting the beautiful studio. A dedicated group of volunteers spent many, many hours chronicling the school’s story, international tours, and many dancer memories while I poured my heart into layout, scanning and retouching hundreds of archival photos. In the Dancing Spirit… made it’s debut at the 20th Anniversary Gala Banquet.
The Ukrainian Academy of Dance holds a very special place in my heart – this is where I met my incredible husband at the ripe old age of 13. It was a pleasure to work on this project and to preserve the school’s legacy for generations to come. Fast forward a few years, and now our 2nd generation is donning his black tights and learning his raz-dva-try. And the rest, they say, is history…