CELEBRATING 35 YEARS
Originally founded in November 1976 by Luba Eshenko, a Ukrainian Shumka dancer, who began instructing a small group of ten dancers on a trial basis. The course was sponsored by the Multicultural Centre and Stony Plain Recreation Department and soon became known as the Stony Plain Ukrainian Dancers. They performed at several schools, a nursing home, Farmers' Day Parade and at the Multicultural Centre. Within two years, the club grew to 41 dancers. Luba's brother Toby Iszcenko, a parent and former Shumka dancer, managed the group while Luba taught along side Rodney Klimchuk, a fellow Shumka dancer. In the fall of 1980, the group continued on under the instructional guidance of Rodney Klimchuk and Sandy Topechko.
Cheremosh dancers Leanne Koziak and Doyle Marko began instructing in 1981, eventually leaving in 1983 to travel Europe and pursue a dream of creating Canada's first professional folkdance ensemble. That dream became realized upon their return to Canada with the creation of Vinok Folkdance Ensemble in 1992, subsequently renamed Vinok Worldance.
In 1983 with an enrollment of 33 dancers, Leanne's sister Debbie Koziak took over the instruction along with fellow Cheremosh dancer, Dave Filipchuk. It was during this year that the club became a registered society and changed its name to the current Parkland Ukrainian Dancers Society (PUDS). At this time, the club was divided into three groups- beginners, intermediates and seniors. Dave left after two years to devote full time to his engineering career.
2008 brought about yet another change to the club when declining enrollment along with multiple requests prompted the creation of an adult group. Alumni, dancers from other groups, and those with absolutely no experience all expressed interest in joining the group. To everyone's surprise, 25 dancers gathered for the first day of instruction. The adult group quickly progressed and began competing and performing that first year. A second adult group was started two years later, allowing for a choice of a competitive or recreational group. This lasted only one year, and in 2011 the competitive group that remained, was named Radist (joy).
In 1985 another fellow Cheremosh dancer, Don Zwarych, joined PUDS as the male instructor.
1988 brought about more changes when increasing enrollment made regrouping into five groups necessary. It was then that Ukrainian names were substituted for the levels of each group and they became known as Ditochku (little children), Veseli (happy), Razom (together), Sveetilo (star or light) and Bliskavka (lightning or fireball). Don taught with Parkland for five years. In 1990 he left to teach English in Japan.
In the fall of 1990 Debbie's husband Chris, also a Cheremosh dancer and instructor teaching with Alberta Ukrainian Zirka Performers, became the male Artistic Director. Increased enrollment in 1996 necessitated a sixth group be formed, named Zeleney (green) for the green sharyvary that all the groups wore. 1998 brought another influx in registration and a seventh group was added. This was an all girls group named Kvitochku (flowers). In future years, this group is added or removed dependent upon enrollment.