Pryvit (Welcome, Ukrainian: Привiт) is a dance created by modern Ukrainian dance ensembles and schools to begin a performance or recital. Audiences are welcomed to the show with the curtain opening on dancers dressed in costumes from the various regions of Ukraine. The dance usually begins with a medley of dance excerpts, woven together in a tapestry of color and movement. Spectators are treated to a sprinkling of dances from the various regions of Ukraine, and then welcomed to the performance with the customary presentation of bread and salt. One or two dancers enter the stage, bearing the traditional braided bread and salt on an embroidered towel (rushnyk), and present them to the audience with a simple bow of welcome. The bread and salt symbolize the hospitality and friendship extended to those watching. The remaining dancers usually echo these greetings and join in the presentation to the audience.
Comprising regions, or oblasts, such as Kyiv, Cherkasy, and Poltava, which surround the Dnipro River in central Ukraine, dances from this region are the ones most commonly associated with Ukrainian dance.
The culture of this region developed under many influences, perhaps the greatest being the semi-military society of the Cossacks. As a result the dances sometimes represent the culture and traditions of the Cossacks, for example their love of social dances spawned the Hopak and Kozachok. The physically demanding acrobatics for the men, combined with the women’s grace while spinning and dancing in technically demanding unison, makes these dances spectacular to behold.
The men’s costumes for these dances are styled after the Cossack dress and usually consist of a comfortable embroidered shirt, sash (poyas) tied around the waist, loose, billowy riding pants (sharovary) and boots. The women’s costume consists of a blouse with red and black embroidery, a full or straight skirt with many colors, the most common being a straight skirt or plakhta, made of colorful, geometric woven fabric, long vests with matching aprons, red boots or shoes, a red beaded necklace, and a headpiece of flowers and ribbons (vinok). The costume of this area has been deemed the national costume of Ukraine.
Located high in the Carpathian Mountains this region encompasses areas of Ukraine, Slovakia, Romania and Moldova.
These mountain people had to adapt to the severe climate and limited living space. This is reflected in the costumes, which have narrower, wool skirts and pants, and heavier linen blouses and shirts. All dancers wear leather moccasins (postoly) and highly decorated vests (keptari). The men’s pants are straight legged and they also wear highly decorated and ornate felt hats. The women’s skirt consists of front and back panels tied at the waist; they also wear highly ornate headpieces, usually with woven ribbons, braided cloth or wool, pompoms, tiny beads or coins. Hutsul costumes usually incorporate orange, brown, green and yellow embroidery.
Hutsul dances are lively and energetic, characterized by low to the ground intricate footwork combined with swift vertical movements, with an emphasis on circle formations and partner work. Arkan, a men’s traditional dance involves slow acrobatic movements that gradually build to a high energy, fast paced dance with spectacular stunts and acrobatics.
Also known as Zakarpattia, this region consists of a large area of both foothills and fertile plains. Bordering on Poland, Slovakia and Hungary, the costumes from this region have similarities in folk dress to those countries with a lot of lace and floral detail.
The woman’s costume has a full skirt that swishes with movement, worn with a traditional embroidered blouse and a short decorated vest. The men wear narrow white pants with a traditional white shirt and short embroidered vest. Decorated hats and bonnets are common accessories for all dancers.
The men clapping and slapping their boots and bodies, and the women’s high kicks and jumping turns characterize these vibrant, colorful, dances. The choreography is rhythmical, bouncy, and high stepping with distinct twisting motions.
This region is located in the transitional highland that encompasses parts of both southwestern Ukraine and northern Romania.
Women’s costumes in this region feature a narrow wrap skirt, usually dark, sometimes striped, worn over an embroidered slip. It is usually pinned open at the front to reveal the slip and tied with a poyas. They wear a traditional white blouse with darker embroidery, and the sleeves are usually done with linear pattern of stitches or flowers. Women’s headpieces are very distinctive, usually tall, and crown-like with flowers and beading. Also they always have tall wheat, grass or feathers that protrude from the front or centre of the headpiece. Coins are often part of the costume or headpiece as well, as they represent a Ukrainian superstition that coins ward off evil spirits. The men are usually dressed in white or off-white embroidered pants and shirt, with a decorated vest, belt and hat.
The dances from this region are lively and energetic with an emphasis on syncopation, high stepping and fast-paced footwork. There is usually a lot of partner work, circles and line combinations with dazzling foot stamping combinations.
Volyn lies in northwestern Ukraine and is a region rich in tradition and culture. Both the costumes and dances have been influenced by hundreds of years of Polish rule over the area.
The men usually wear long swirling coats over embroidered shirts, poyas and straight pants. The women have skirts that swirl, worn with an embroidered blouse and vest with lappets. The costumes are bright and vibrant with red and green figuring dominantly in the colour scheme.
Dances from this area are couple oriented and polka-like. Energetic stomping, high legs, lively arms with twirling steps characterize the choreography; it is very light and fun.
This region of Ukraine lies between Belarus to the north and the regions of Kholm to Rivne and south towards Kyiv. It is a geographical region of lowlands with mixed forest and lots of marshland. As farming is poor in this region, forestry and its by-products are the main industry.
Costumes from this region usually incorporate red, white and beige as the main colors. Men wear longer shirts tied at the waist with a sash, or poyas, with long straight pants tucked in boots and they wear a beige straw hat with a wide brim. Women wear a blouse with red embroidery, and a longer linen skirt with an embroidered apron, usually the skirt is mid calf or longer. Also they sometimes have a shorter dark vest. Headpieces are usually a simple band with flowers or a rectangular scarf tied around the head.
Dances from this region are fast paced and bouncy, with lots of high knees. They are also known for their partner work, often involving switching between partners, with lots of polka influences.
These dances represent the cultures and traditions of the Ukrainian Tsyhany. The Romale people (the name Gypsies call themselves) living in the Carpathian Mountains have developed their own dialect, customs and traditional dances in their own villages.
In these dances you will see the men clapping and slapping their boots or chest and the women swirl and spin while seductively bending their upper bodies. Also the women’s movement incorporates a lot of floor work.
Men usually wear black boots and pants with a loose open satin shirt. Women’s costumes are bright and colorful with long satin circle skirts worn with tight low cut blouses or bodysuits. They sometimes wear coin necklaces or a simple flower in their hair, which is usually worn down.