As the first organization that was formed under the auspices of the UCAA, the Kashtan Dance Ensemble began in 1979 under the direction of Markian Komichak, and assistant David Woznak. Kashtan has been an active part of the cultural scene of Cleveland, Ohio for more than three decades, and has performed at concerts and festivals throughout Ohio, other parts of the Midwest and Eastern United States, and Canada. Kashtan’s delightful repertoire and energetic style make the ensemble a favorite among audiences everywhere. By working to promote the rich Ukrainian dance heritage, Kashtan has done much to advance the popularity of folk dance.
Over the years, the testament to Kashtan’s success has been realized though a number of talented students who went on to become professional dancers and instructors with some of the most renowned companies in America and abroad. Kashtan continues to move into the future by continuing to preserve the soul of Ukraine though the beauty of Ukrainian folk dance.
As the first organization that was formed under the auspices of the UCAA, the Kashtan Ukrainian School of Dance began in 1979 under the direction of Markian Komichak, and assistant David Woznak. Kashtan’s first class of 60 students walked into the hall of Pokrova Ukrainian Catholic Church on December 19, 1979, and with the hard work of the staff and students, the dedication and generosity of the community, and a little bit of imagination, the school doubled enrollment within two years of its inception. As the school grew and the student body became more experienced, the Cleveland Ukrainian community quickly began to consider Kashtan not only as a school, but as a performance ensemble. Soon, Kashtan was dancing at church functions, community picnics and Cleveland ethnic festivals. Kashtan’s reputation also began to spread to neighboring cities, with performances in Chicago, Louisville, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Throughout the years, Kashtan has danced at the Captive Nations Conference in Washington D.C. for former President Ronald Reagan, the Verkhovyna Festival in New York, the Garden State Festival in New Jersey, the Sunflower Festival in Detroit, the Ukrainian Folk Festival in Pittsburgh, and the International Folklore Festival in Lviv, Ukraine where the ensemble won the festival’s grand prix – the highest award bestowed upon a Ukrainian dance group from abroad. More recently, Kashtan has had the privilege of performing at the Bloor West Village Toronto Ukrainian Festival, North America’s largest Ukrainian street festival. Overall, Kashtan has enjoyed being an active part of the Ukrainian dance scene in Cleveland and abroad for over three decades.
Over the years, the testament to Kashtan’s success has been realized though a number of talented students who when on to become professional dancers and instructors with some of the most renowned companies in America and abroad. The group’s delightful repertoire and energetic style make Kashtan a favorite among audiences everywhere, and, currently under the direction of Artistic Director Diana Prodan, Kashtan continues to move forward into the future by continuing to preserve the soul of Ukraine through the beauty of Ukrainian folk dance.