Forever Remembered: MR. CHESTER KUC

Links and Related Stories:

Life & Times: Alberta’s ‘father of Ukrainian dance’
Chester Kuc perfected the arts of his culture
http://www.edmontonjournal.com/Life+Times+Alberta+father+Ukrainian+dance/8107356/story.html

Танцювальний “батл” між канадським та українським “Черемошами”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bll4hbLXNX0

It is with heavy hearts and great sadness
that we announce the passing of

MR. CHESTER KUC

 

Prayers – Thursday, February 21 at 7:00 p.m. at St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral, 10951 – 107 Street.
Funeral Rite Friday, February 22 at 10:00 a.m. at St. John’s Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral. Right Reverend Stephan Semotiuk officiating with interment in St. Michael’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kule Chair for Ukrainian Ethnography or to the Ukrainian Canadian Foundation of Taras Shevchenko, 202, 952 Main Street, Winnipeg, MB R2W 3P4.

To view the obituary or send condolences, click on the link at the bottom

Mr. Kuc, and his wife Luba, founded Cheremosh in 1969. From 1969 – 1981, Mr. Kuc served as Artistic Director of Cheremosh; he created Junior Cheremosh (now Cheremshyna). With Mrs. Kuc by his side, over the decades, Mr. Kuc researched, taught, and shared his vast expertise of authentic Ukrainian Dance and costuming to thousands of young aspiring Ukrainian dancers – from young children at his UNF School of Dancing and at other venues, to adult semi-professional dancers performing and entertaining audiences world-wide. He founded both Cheremosh and Shumka.

 

Words cannot adequately express our deep appreciation and admiration of Mr. Kuc … we are eternally grateful for Mr. Kuc’s incredible vision, leadership, knowledge, inspiration, tireless work, and passion over the many years. His dedication, determination, and pride have beautifully preserved the rich tradition and heritage of Ukrainian Dance and led to the 44-year journey that Cheremosh continues today. We honour and treasure the memories of times shared and will always remember Mr. Kuc’s legacy and contributions.

 

Our heartfelt condolences are extended, with love, to Mrs. Kuc and children Larysa and Daria (both Cheremosh Alumni), Daria’s husband Grant, and extended family.

 

PLEASE SEE BELOW for BIOGRAPHY of Mr. Kuc’s incredible vision and dedication to Cheremosh and many forms of Ukrainian art – including dance, pysanky, embroidery, etc. He was truly instrumental and inspirational in preserving all forms of Ukrainian art, laying the foundation and fostering the development of Ukrainian Dance in Alberta and nation-wide with the high, authentic standard of excellence he exemplified as a true visionary, founder, teacher, artistic director, artist, and leader. His own art was showcased at the Alberta Provincial Museum and he organized countless events showcasing fine art from Ukraine. His influence is of national and international impact.

 

Prayers of eternal peace from our entire Cheremosh family. 

Vichna Iomy Pamiat.

 

BIOGRAPHY OF CHESTER KUC:

 Edmonton-born Chester & Luba Kuc (nee Yusypchuk) began early dance training under Ukrainian Dancemaster Vasyl Avramenko, the father of Ukrainian dance in North America. Instructing for over 35 years, Chester taught dancing to thousands of students. He organized and produced numerous major productions across Canada with various dance troupes. In 1959, he founded the Ukrainian Shumka Dancers. He taught at various schools across Edmonton and his own UNF School of Dancing grew to over 350 students annually. It was housed at the Ukrainian National Federation (UNF) Hall, which was also home to Cheremosh for approximately 20 years. Both Chester and Luba excelled as musicians, each earning a degree in violin and completing advanced studies in piano. Well known as a violinist, Luba appeared as a soloist both locally and nationally. Grade 10 piano was an asset for Chester. Students fondly recall that Chester not only provided dance instruction, but also piano accompaniment during rehearsals and at annual concerts in the Jubilee Auditorium.

 

In 1969, Chester was approached by the members of an interest group of the local Ukrainian National Youth Federation (MYHO) to form a new dance group. Then known as Veselka, this group of 19 dancers was the young seed for the semi-professional Cheremosh Ukrainian Dancers, also known as Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Ensemble … today called Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company. Competition at auditions was brisk and the semi-professional company grew to over 60 members. The Society with elected Executive officers was created and strongly supported by the parent community. Junior Cheremosh – now referred to as Cheremshyna – and a younger Girls Group were established. Chester was the Artistic Director and Luba the Costume Designer/Wardrobe Mistress for the Society and School of Dancing. Together, they inspired innovative development of Ukrainian folk dance while maintaining the national character and originality of the steps, music, and costuming. They incorporated regional dances of Ukraine into repetoire, presenting unique choreography, music, and colourful costumes new to their audience. Their efforts were pivotal in Cheremosh showcasing the most authentic and varied wardrobe of any Ukrainian dance group in Canada. Luba spent countless hours researching design, obtaining authentic fabrics, and teaching dancers, parents, and grandparents to intricately embroider and construct costumes. Chester and Luba designed countless costumes and particularly the signature Hopak costume and embroidered blue skirt live on … worn exclusively by Cheremosh dancers for nearly 40 years, these hand-made, cherished pieces are heirlooms connecting generations of dancers. They initiated the purchase of varied regional costumes from Ukraine and prior to his retirement, Chester joined the entire ensemble for a dance workshop in Kiev, Ukraine in 1981 – the first visit by an entire Canadian dance group to the homeland. From 1969 until 1981, Chester and Luba devoted and volunteered countless hours and energy to establish Cheremosh as one of the premier groups in Canada. They accompanied Cheremosh on numerous provincial, national, and international tours across North America and Europe. They continue to warmly support Cheremosh endeavours and assist with archives.

Daughters, Larysa and Daria, are both Cheremosh Alumni. Currently there are over 345+ Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company Alumni, many who continue to maintain close friendships with those they danced with decades ago.

Chester and Luba tirelessly have been avid supporters and volunteers in the Ukrainian community. Chester was a skilled artist having held exhibits of his collection of over 2500 pysanky – all written by Chester. His petit point embroideries are breathtaking and Chester and Luba created and published embroidery charts based on original designs by Chester as well as Michael Bilas, a famous artist from Ukraine. They received countless community, provincial, and national awards. In recognition of their contributions to Cheremosh, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary, Chester and Luba were honoured by the Society as Honourary Lifetime Members. Prior to the Cheremosh 40th Anniversary celebration held in 2010, the Boardroom of our Cheremosh Studio was dedicated in honour of Mr. and Mrs. Kuc, paying tribute to their pivotal vision, dedication, and contributions to Cheremosh.

 

Cheremosh is a brisk, boisterous, and impetuous river in the Carpathian Mountains in Western Ukraine. Ukrainian Cheremosh Society – past, present, and future – pays tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Kuc. In 1969, our Founders created our destiny and led our journey. We are humbled and eternally grateful for their vision, talent, commitment, and energy, which have provided a legacy of unparalleled opportunities for our dancers and their families, facilitated Ukrainian dance as an art form, and preserved our rich cultural heritage.

>> http://www.parkmemorial.com/book-of-memories/1500976/Kuc-Chester/obituary.php

Tribute to Chester Kuc

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