Slavic Club passes on culture through dance

The Slavic Club continued its legacy of the event Dancing Bonanza on Nov. 9 after 27 years of keeping the tradition.

The event consists of performances by members of the Iskra Ukrainian Dance Ensemble, giving students the opportunity to learn about Slavic culture through dance.

Students enjoyed learning about Slavic Club with dancing and food at the annual Dancing Bonanza.
Fabielle Garcia/Staff Photographer

“Our goal is to really just inform students who are interested in Slavic culture,” said Teresa Gonzalez, club president and a senior diplomacy and international relations major.

Though Dancing Bonanza is one of their more interactive and participatory events, the club also hosts lectures, musical performances and movies.

“We try and make it as eclectic and diverse as possible, so people get a really broad taste of the different aspects of Slavic culture, because what is Slavic is so big,” Gonzalez said.

Most of the members in Slavic Club are students of Professor Anna Kuchta, who teaches Russian language at Seton Hall. Kuchta often gives her students extra credit for joining Slavic Club and attending the various events such as Dancing Bonanza.

“When learning a language it is important to learn about the culture as well,” said Claire Yocom, a senior club member and diplomacy and modern language major.

Having been the advisor of the Slavic Club for 20 years, Gonzalez calls Kuchta the “heart and soul of Slavic Club.”

Kuchta’s many connections with faculty and past students aids the club in finding the performers, including the ones for this year’s Dancing Bonanza.

Kicking off the event with a performance in traditional Ukrainian costumes, dancing instructors Peter Chudolij and Yuliya Voznyuk taught students basic moves to Ukrainian folk dances.

Students also learned traditional Russian folk dancing by participating in a Russian dance circle, led by Russian language Professor Liliya Brammer, who wore a full costume and headdress for the event.

This was Bryan Yeoh Quan Jin’s third Dancing Bonanza as a member of Slavic Club. “The dances were all really beautiful, but dancing them is very very tough,” the junior diplomacy and international relations and economics double major said.

“It’s really fun because none of us are essentially very good but there is comradery in how bad you are,” Gonzalez said.

According to Gonzalez, the club receives a lot of support from the Russian Eastern Studies Department and the History Department on campus, with many of the faculty attending the events. The Slavic Club also receives a significant number of off-campus members through its sponsor of three years, the Raritan Valley Slavic Cultural and Heritage Society, as well as from previous student members.

Their meetings alone reach over 50 people in attendance, often causing space issues. This year’s Dancing Bonanza drew a crowd of over 70 people.

“People have offered a lot of support throughout the years because we offer a venue for them to experience the Slavic culture,” Gonzalez said.

“Everything we do is a family environment and that’s partially because of Kuchta and because of the way Slavic culture works.”

Payton Seda can be reached at payton.seda@student.shu.edu.

Author: Payton Seda

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