PARSIPPANY, N.J. – Ukrainian American community organizations and institutions have been holding numerous events online due to the coronavirus pandemic. Though the way that Ukrainians host events has changed, the activity never stops. Featured below is just a sampling of the latest events held virtually.
The Ukrainian History and Education Center (UHEC), located in Somerset, N.J., has organized a number of online events (as evidenced by listings in this newspaper’s “Out & About” section). On July 11, a “Ukrainian Music of Summer” concert was held, featuring Zoya and Sana Shepko of the Korinya Ukrainian Folk Band. The UHEC-hosted exhibit “Visible Music: The Art of Yukhym Mykhailiv” has been made available online.
Other news for the museum is its new partnership with Dnipro National University in Ukraine, a collaboration on adding time-coded subject annotations and other access points to historical audio recordings digitized by the UHEC archives to improve the searchability of these audio recordings. The project is being coordinated by UHEC archivist Michael Andrec and Oleh Repan of Dnipro National University. The first phase of the project has been completed, with the annotations to be translated into English and made available on the UHEC website, www.ukrhec.org.
On Mother’s Day weekend, instead of its traditional live concert, Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy held a virtual concert through the magic of Zoom. All four of its groups performed their dances, separately yet together. All in all, 39 students took part in the performance. The youngest group, the beginners, performed a “Kozachok.” The intermediate group performed a Transcarpathian dance, “Zakarpattia.” The junior group, featuring 10 dancers, also performed a “Kozachok,” while the senior group premiered a new “Pryvit.” The dance academy’s students continued to take classes until the end of June, also via Zoom. It is hoped that these dances will be performed in front of a live audience this fall.
In related news, the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Intensive is scheduled to be held on July 27-31 for dancers age 13 and over, and Iskra Ukrainian Dance Academy classes will be offered on August 3-7 for children age 8-12. The classes are scheduled for afternoons, 1-5 p.m., with a staggered arrival suggested to begin at 12:30 p.m. The classes will be held in strict adherence to all state and CDC guidelines, and class sizes will be limited, with no shared equipment and daily disinfection. Temperature scans will be taken upon participants’ arrival and dancers will be spaced six feet apart of more. The cost is $400 for one week of in-person classes. Register online at https://iskradance.weebly.com/news.html.
The Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) has moved its activity online with lectures, presentations, discussions and book launches. On July 10, the Harvard Ukrainian Summer Institute (HUSI), hosted Serhii Plokhii’s talk, “The Rise and Fall of the Grand Alliance: American Airmen in World War II Ukraine,” and on July 3, Emily Channell-Justice presented “COVID-19 and the Future of Reforms in Ukraine.” HUSI participants have been featured on the HURI website, www.huri.harvard.edu. Many of the HUSI events have been hosted via Zoom, YouTube and similar platforms, as education has adapted to modern media outlets.
This year, 30 students from around the world have been able to participate in the HUSI program, and there has been a more direct exchange between current students and alumni because of events being hosted online. Time zone differences remain, and adaptability has proven challenging but manageable. Megan Duncan Smith joined HURI in April as the new program coordinator, and the transition has been smooth in the face of the changing environment.
HURI programs have informed the public about the COVID-19 response in Ukraine, the ongoing Nord Stream 2 pipeline project (in an online event hosted by the Temerty Contemporary Ukraine Program); still more events have focused on topics related to Ukrainian studies.
The Ukrainian Museum continues to offer weekly features about Ukrainian artists, including Ilona Sochynsky and her triptych “Coney Island,” plus an overview by Hanya Krill-Pyziur that recalled the 2012 exhibit “A Singular Vision: Ilona Sochynsky, Retrospective of Painting.” Among the other artists that have been featured by the museum have been: Samuel Kaplan (born 1928) who emigrated to the U.S. in 1991 and an exhibit of whose works was held in 2018 in Kyiv at the Sholom-Aleichem Museum; Romana Rainey, whose works include “Ukrainian Church at Hunter” and who was one of the artists featured in the 2015 exhibit “The Ukrainian Diaspora: Women Artists 1908-2015”; Orest Skop, whose works include “Cossack Mamai with Yellow Pipe” (2015) that was gifted to the museum by the artist; and Mychajlo Moroz (1904-1992), whose works were exhibited at the museum in 2009 in “A Generous Vision: A Major Gift of Works by Mychajlo Moroz.”
Current exhibitions, offered via video tours, include: “The Impact of Modernity: Late 19th and Early 20th Century Ukrainian Art. Major Gift from Jurij Rybak and Anna Ortynskyj”; “From Darkness to Light: The Paintings of Mikhail Turovsky”; “A Conversation. Five Years of War in the Donbas,” featuring works by Vlodko Kaufman; “Faces of the Crimean Tatar Deportation 75 Years Later” by Zarema Yaliboylu; and “Alexander Archipenko: Selected Works.”
The museum hosted a preview film screening of “Mr. Jones” with a webinar featuring director Agnieszka Holland and screenwriter Andrea Chalupa, who spoke via Zoom on June 14. The film chronicles the experience of Welsh journalist Gareth Jones in telling the truth about the Holodomor in Ukraine in 1932-1933 that was covered up by Walter Duranty of The New York Times.
For additional information and online events, readers can visit the museum’s website, www.ukrainianmuseum.org.
On July 11, the Ukrainian Institute of America hosted a webinar on the topic “COVID-19: Perspectives From the Frontline – U.S.A./Ukraine” with Drs. Boris Lushniak, Ulana Suprun and Ihor Magun. Dr. Lushniak is a retired rear admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps and former acting U.S. surgeon general (2013-2015) who now is dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health; Dr. Suprun was the acting minister of health of Ukraine (2016-2019); and Dr. Magun is an internal medicine physician in private practice.
The UIA has also posted videos from the 2018 concert “Music of Myroslav Skoryk,” which celebrated the eminent composer’s 80th birthday. (Maestro Skoryk died in June of this year.) The UIA’s online exhibits include “Five Elements of War” by Daria Marchenko and Daniel Green; “Frontline/Peace Life: Ukraine’s Revolutionaries of the Forgotten War” (ends on July 31); “Zhanna Kadyrova: The Market” (ends July 31); “Oleksa Hryshchenko” (ends November 30); and “Alexander Archipenko” (ends December 30). Additional information can be found at www.ukrainianinstitute.org.
The UIA also hosted the presentation of “Single Release: Kupala Songs” by Ukrainian Village Voices of New York, which was streamed via Facebook live on July 7. The discussion “Babyn Yar Memorial: Is Consensus Possible?” was hosted at the Ukrainian Institute, London, and information was linked through the UIA website.
The Organization for the Defense of Four Freedoms for Ukraine hosted an online commemoration of the annual “Sviato Heroyiv” (Heroes’ Holiday) on July 5 via Zoom. It can be viewed online via YouTube (https://youtu.be/1dbeITjQpMA) and can be found by searching for the ODFFU YouTube channel. The event honors the historical and current heroes/heroines across the Ukrainian spectrum. The program schedule included the posting of colors and the singing of the Ukrainian and U.S. national anthems, a prayer service led by the Rev. Ivan Lyszyk, as well as cultural performances and presentations. For additional information, readers can visit the organization’s website, www.odffu.org.
Razom for Ukraine continues delivering “CheerUp Packages” to the Ukrainian community of New York as a part of its emergency response to the pandemic. “The purpose of ‘CheerUp Packages’ is to show that we are here, that we support each other as a community,” said activist Mariya Soroka.
Razom began the program on May 5, during Giving Tuesday, to help Ukrainians in New York City. The organization prepared care packages as a token of care and appreciation, as well as to support local Ukrainian-based businesses, such as the restaurants Veselka and Streecha, and the East Village Meat Market (Baczynsky’s). Razom has partnered with the Ukrainian Running Club to deliver items to those in need, as well as chef Olesia Lew, St. George Ukrainian Catholic Church and the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America.
Additional information on Razom’s work, including assistance to relief efforts for flood victims in western Ukraine and fund-raisers to help doctors and medical staff in Ukraine during the coronavirus pandemic, can be found on the Razom website, www.razomforukraine.org or its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/RazomForUkraine.
Compiled by Matthew Dubas