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2024 Hospodar & Hospodynia

"Vitaiemo! Welcome to the 51st annual Vegreville Pysanka Festival, an amazing showcase of our vibrant Ukrainian arts and culture. We want to extend our warmest welcome to the Pysanka Festival and we are deeply honored to be your Hospodar and Hospodynia. If you have attended any of the past festivals, it is obvious that the Vegreville Cultural Association has done amazing work over the last 51 years to create an outstanding array of cultural experiences for the whole family to enjoy. Sincere congratulations and appreciation go out to the festival organizers and to all people preserving our Ukrainian Culture and heritage."           

                                           ~ Ken & Carol

Kachmar Ken & Carol  Bree-LynnMistolPhot

Ken was born in Two Hills Alberta, to George and Ina Kachmar and grew up in the two-room farmhouse on the original homestead of his Gido and Baba, William and Sophia Kachmar who immigrated to Canada from Ukraine. Although the family no longer lives on the farm, Ken continues to maintain his family’s home and the homestead for future generations to enjoy and cherish.

Ken attended Grant MacEwan University studying ballet, music, and contemporary dance. Ken also studied Ukrainian Dance in Ukraine, Odessa, Kiev, Lviv, Revno and Lutsk, furthering his study under the directorship of Myroslav Vantuch Artistic Director of Virsky National State Ensemble. Ken studied choreography and production in Moncton, New Brunswick and under ballet master’s from Ukraine at the Saskatchewan School of Fine Arts.

Some personal highlights from Ken’s long-standing career have been dancing at the Spokane 1974 World Fair; representing Alberta dancing for the 76 Montreal Summer Olympics; performing for Queen Elizabeth and other dignitaries; representing Alberta at the San Francisco Worlds Trade People in 1976; in 1982 dancing with the Tuman Kozaks in Los Angeles, and in 1984 Ken organized a 10th Anniversary Concert where 480 dancers from the 7 groups Ken taught over the years came together to perform in Jubilee Auditorium.

Ken began his dance career at age seven. By age 16, he began his career as an instructor teaching Ukrainian dance in many communities including Two Hills, Vegreville, Lloydminster, Vermillion, Innisfree, Andrew, Lamont, St Paul, Fairview, Grande Prairie, Peace River, Spirit River, and Elk Point. Ken was also involved in the creation of several dance schools and dance ensembles including the Ken Kachmar School of Ukrainian dance in 1985, Sopilka and the professional ensemble the Flying Kozaks in 1986.

Ken danced with Cheremosh and went on to choreographer and be an Artistic Director for the Cheremosh Ukrainian Ensemble and had extensive input into their 20th Anniversary Program. Ken also choreographed Ukrainian dances for the French-Canadian Dancers in Edmunston, New Brunswick and has conducted workshops throughout Canada, the United States, China, England, and Brazil. Ken was a co-choreographer for Canada’s Ukrainian 100th Anniversary for Festival 88 in Edmonton, where he choreographed the largest Hopak in the world with over 2,800 dancers at Rexall Place. 

In 1988 Ken was the founder, and still the present owner of the Edmonton School of Ukrainian dance, Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and Vatra Ukrainian Adult Ensemble which was formed in 2004. Ken has travelled the world extensively with various ensembles empowering them to showcase their Ukrainian Dance heritage to audiences across the globe.

Ken has taught over 18 different dance ensembles, spending countless hours creating material that is uniquely the Ken Kachmar style of Ukrainian dance. It had elements of history, romance, innovation, comedy, character, and energy. He is a strong believer in storylines which link dancers together by story. This has brought a fresh perspective to the vibrant art of Ukrainian Dance to audiences around the world.

Ken’s latest ventures have been International Productions showcasing talented Ukrainian artists such as Virsky Ukrainian National Dance Company, Donbas Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, Veriovka Ukrainian Dance and Choir Ensemble, Singers Marianna Ilkiv, Yevhen Vaskin and Svitlana Sasu, violinists Innes Tymochko and Olekandr Bozhyk and Ukrainian X Factor pop sensations Trioda.

Ken has received numerous awards over his extensive career, but his most recent accomplishment was from the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, who awarded Ken the Ukrainian Hetman Professional Achievement award in 2021.

Carol grew up in the Yukon, moving to Old Crow in the Article Circle as a toddler, where her parents Bea and Jim Hrenyk were teachers. Eventually her family moved to the capital, Whitehorse. Carol’s heritage is German on her mother’s side and Ukrainian on her father’s, but Carol never had an opportunity to really experience Ukrainian culture outside of her own family’s traditions until she moved to Alberta in 1992 to pursue her career as there were very few Ukrainians in the Yukon. When first in Alberta, Carol was in awe of how many Ukrainians had settled there and really enjoyed meeting other Ukrainians and learning more about her heritage. She especially enjoyed learning how to make pysanka’s, p’yerohi and holubtsi.

Carol holds a degree in Child and Youth Care Counselling and a Master’s Degree in Leadership and has worked in the not-for-profit sector of Social Services providing support to vulnerable children, youth, and families for over thirty-five years. She is currently the Director of Community Services at Unlimited Potential and oversees the Adult Mental Health Programs and the Bridges Program, a Collaborative Service Delivery Program in partnership with Edmonton Child and Family Services. Carol has always had a passion for working with children and youth and supporting and empowering them to reach their potential.

Carol and Ken met in 2005 and since that time Carol has been immersed in the culture, supporting Ken and his daughters Keana and Kennedy in their endeavors within Ukrainian Dance and Ukrainian traditions, meeting Ukrainian artists, and attending Ukrainian Festivals like New York’s Soyuzivka Festival and the Vegreville Pysanka Festival. Ken and Carol both were members of the Edmonton Folk Arts Council, promoting Ukrainian Dance and culture to the bigger Edmonton Community. We have been proud to have the Edmonton School of Ukrainian Dance, Vohon Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and Vatra Ukrainian Adult Ensemble, performing for the Pysanka Festival over the years.

Again, we would like to extend a warm welcome to the 51st anniversary of the Vegreville Pysanka Festival, we hope to see you out on the grounds and hope you come to say hello.

Ken and Carol

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