Dancing on Air

Virsky Ukranian National Dance Company

Virsky Ukranian National Dance Company

Founded in 1937 by choreographer Pavlo Virsky, the Virsky Ukranian National Dance Company has been celebrating the culture of the Ukranian people with its soaring routines for decades—and earning rave reviews in the process. The New York Times once praised the company for its “astonishing lightness of bravura” and the Cleveland Plain Dealer last month called a Virsky show a “brilliant performance of precision choreography.” Though others haven’t always been quite so impressed—a reviewer for Philadelphia City Paper once lamented the troupe’s “hollow, idealized version of traditional Ukrainian folklife”—most anyone will be floored by the skill of the dancers, who begin their formal training at age 6 at Virsky’s affiliate school. Even that critical City Paper reviewer admitted he couldn’t help but be impressed by the “dizzying spins” and “high-flying turns” that are the troupe’s trademark.

—T.H.

DANCE FOLKS: The Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company performs on the Penn Presents stage. 3 p.m. Nov. 21 in Irvine Auditorium. Tickets: $35, $25, $19. Tickets/Info: 215-898-6701 or www.pennpresents.org.

Originally published on November 18, 2004