Shannon Gabrush developed her love of Ukrainian dance at age five. In her following years, she was known as an energetic and charismatic dancer. She spent the formative years of her youth dancing with Rushnychok Ukrainian Folk Dance Association in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. In the summer of 1998, she was fortunate to study at the Institute of Ukrainian Folk Dance in Lviv, Ukraine. The varied focus on ethnography, costumes, music, choreography and ballet deepened her love of Ukrainian culture and dance.
Shannon joined the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble (PFE) in 1998 where she danced for 13 years. Under the Artistic Direction of Serhij Koroliuk, she performed with PFE in Brazil, Ukraine, the United States of America and across various regions of Canada. In addition to dancing, Shannon spent many years on the PFE Board of Directors and took on the role of President from 2007-2009. She was one of the founders of and had a key role in the establishment of PFE Dance Showcase. The Annual Dance Festival has grown into the largest Ukrainian Dance Festival in Saskatchewan. Shannon acted as the Tour Director for her last performing Tour “Nostalgia,” which traveled to the Eastern UnitedStates and Canada.
Shannon was fortunate to study under many Masters and Professional groups while she continued to further her dancer and instructor education. She continued her studies at the above mentioned Institute of Ukrainian Folk dance in Ukraine and by attending various workshops and seminars offered in Canada.
Shannon has been instructing Ukrainian dance for almost twenty years. Her teaching career began through the instructor apprenticeship program offered at Rushnychok and by the age of fifteen, she had begun teaching her first class. Over the years, she has taught at ten different dance schools across Saskatchewan and has been invited as a guest choreographer for groups in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Shannon is known for creating unique dances that draw out the personality of her dancers, young and old. Many of these pieces have earned Choreographic awards and top honours at many Ukrainian dance festivals.
Outside of her work life, Shannon s happily married to a Ukrainian dancer turned Golf Professional, Brian. Together they have two children, Lena and William who fill their house with singing, dancing, and laughter. In her spare time, Shannon enjoys photography, traveling, wine, decorating and finding new lives for forgotten furniture.
Ms. Sonya Horner began her formal dance training at age 4 starting with Ukrainian dance in Saskatoon, Sk. at the Saskatoon School of Dance. Studying under Ms. Lusia Pavlychenko, her love of dance was ignited and there began a lifetime of dancing.
At age 6, she began to study ballet, tap, and jazz in her hometown at The Biggar School of Dance, all while still driving to Saskatoon to keep taking Ukrainian dance lessons. She began taking RAD ballet exams and became more involved in dance festivals, competitions, and performances around the province.
After graduating high school from Biggar Composite High School, she moved to Saskatoon to attend the University of Saskatchewan. In December 2003, she received a 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in Psychology. While enrolled in full-time studies, she continued to dance with the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble and prepared for her RAD Intermediate ballet exam, which she successfully completed in 2001. Also, she began to teach Ukrainian, Ballet, Tap, and Jazz in many communities around the province.
While dancing with the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble, she had many wonderful experiences. She worked with amazingly talented teachers and choreographers, such as Ms. Lusia Pavlychenko, Mr. Serhij Koroliuk, Mrs. Nina Koroliuk, along with many others throughout her training. Also, she toured across Canada as well as internationally. Tour highlights include Brazil in 2000, Ukraine in 2003, and the United States and Eastern Canada in 2009.
Today, along with teaching Ukrainian dance to several dance schools in and around Saskatoon, she works with youth at risk. She feels that the lessons she has learned from dance, such as discipline, determination, dedication, perseverance, and enthusiasm, will help her succeed with any challenge she faces in the future.
Jason’s dance career began at the age of 6, in a small Saskatchewan community. At the age of 14, he began apprenticing with Rushnychok in Saskatoon, helping with some younger classes. Two years later, a class was designated to him, and he was well on his way to a career teaching dance. At the age of 18, he joined the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble in Saskatoon, where he pushed forward as a performer. Under the brilliant direction of Serhij Koroliuk, Jason expanded his regional repertoire, and, while working with Lusia Pavlychenko, learned the value of stretching and strengthening the body. He was fortunate to participate in workshops with great instructors such as George Chrunick, Doug Rachinski, Vitali Sorokotiaguine, Raphael Malynovsky, Myroslav Vantukh, and Zhenia Bahri.
In the summer of 2000, Jason traveled to Ukraine with Rushnychok to do workshops and perform. Later that summer, he traveled to Brazil with Pavlychenko to perform a series of concerts. Deeply forged friendships brought Jason and his wife Crystal back to Brazil in 2002, where they were performers and guest choreographers with the “Grupo Folclorico Ukrainiano Poltava” from Curitiba.
Upon the birth of his first child, Jason retired from performing with Pavlychenko in 2005. Jason and Crystal now have four children who are all enrolled in Ukrainian Dance.
Since Jason began teaching, he has been a full-time instructor at 11 dance schools, and guest choreographer in various dance schools in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. At many of the schools he has taught, he began as a guest choreographer before becoming a full-time instructor.
At the present time, 18 members of PFE are former students of Jason’s. It gives him immense pride knowing that he has passed on the skills necessary to excel at the next step of the dancer’s career.
When Jason isn’t teaching dance, he works full time as a Technical Services Manager at an iconic Saskatoon hotel. There he manages his facility and is a designated trainer for new managerial candidates in Western Canada.
Kaitlin started dancing with Rushnychok at the age of 8 and continued to dance and apprentice throughout her time with the group. After she graduated from Marion Graham Collegiate, Kaitlin’s passion for and devotion to Ukrainian dance and culture continue to grow.
She is currently dancing with the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble directed by Serhij Koroliuk. Besides teaching at Rushnychok, Kaitlin also instructs the Ukrainian dance group in Prudhomme.
Along with teaching and learning Ukrainian dance, Kaitlin is in her third year of study at the Univeristy of Saskatchewan in the College of Education. She is pursuing a degree in elementary education because she enjoys working with and sharing her passion with young children. Kaitlin looks forward to continuing her dance education and gaining many new experiences in the future.
Austyn Kozun grew up in Nipawin, SK. At the age of 4, he was involved in many sports. He danced with the Nipawin Veselii Ukrainian dancers while playing hockey, volleyball, and badminton. Austyn attributes his successful dance career to playing multiple sports as it helped him to build his strength and coordination. He feels that it is important to continue dancing, as it is a connection to his Ukrainian culture. Austyn is currently dancing with the Pavlychenko Folklorique Ensemble under the direction of Serhij Koroliuk. Austyn is in his third year of study in Electrical Engineering Technology at the Saskatchewan Polytechnic. He plans to continue his dance career as he is always learning each time he steps into the studio. Austyn looks forward to gaining teaching experience at Rushnychok and hopes to learn as much as he can so that he can continue to teach and have a positive impact on young dancers.
Kennedy Madden-Barbour began dancing with Rushnyhcok when she was 8 years old. She continued dancing with the club for the next ten years. This is Kennedy’s second year of apprenticing with Rushnychok. Currently, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Education Degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Kennedy loves children and hopes to focus on working with elementary school students. Her love of children motivates her to encourage her students to be the best dancers that they can be.