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Celebrating Ukrainian Culture through Dance


Dance Education and Ballet Pedagogy alum Tymothy Jaddock (MA ’21)  is using his pedagogical expertise to elevate and advance traditional Ukrainian dance as a performer, educator, dance adjudicator, and advocate.

Tym Jaddock on stage with his troupe, demonstrating a dance move.

Part of an ethnically Ukrainian family, Jaddock grew up in Canada, which is home to one of the largest diasporas of Ukrainian people in the world. He toured across North America as a corps de ballet member of the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Company of Edmonton, Alberta. He also taught and directed character dance and ballet programming at dance studios in Alberta, including the Cheremosh Ukrainian Dance Academy and KaRAR Performing Arts.  

“The Ukrainian dance program at KaRAR Performing Arts grew from five kids to 50 over the five years I was there,” says Jaddock. “When it came time to decide my next step, the opportunity came for me to move to Ukraine for a year-long dance residency and training program. I trained for two months at the National University of Culture and Arts in Kyiv and another two months at the L’viv College of Culture and Arts in L’viv. After that, I held residencies at four different state ensembles, living in Lutsk, Chernivtsi, and Poltava each for two months.”

Tym Jaddock and the BYU Folk Dance Department.

Nearing the end of his residencies and again looking for that next step, Jaddock happened upon an advertisement for Steinhardt’s Teaching Dance in the Professions: ABT Pedagogy program and knew it was the right choice for him.

“Ukrainian stage dance is very much informed by a ballet filter,” says Jaddock. “Any kind of Ukrainian dance done at a high level has to have a classical ballet foundation, along with character technique and, of course, repertory work.”

Jaddock was very close to the ABT program deadline, so he recruited two other people in his residency and training program to quickly learn a routine he could film for the application’s dance component. Once he got his acceptance from Steinhardt, he flew from Ukraine to his home in Canada for two weeks before moving to New York City.

A traditional Ukrainian dress for a female dancer, with a full skirt and floral headpiece.

“I’m so thankful to NYU Steinhardt and ABT for this dance education program, because it completely changed the way I teach and think about dance,” says Jaddock. “Having adjudicated a lot of Ukrainian dance competitions, I would see students who couldn’t execute certain movements; I asked myself ‘where is the disconnect?’ The methodology of the ABT curriculum is to build up and break down every single step in classical dance. So, if your student isn’t achieving a certain movement, it is the teacher’s job to break it down and build it back up in a way that helps them accomplish it. Being at Steinhardt helped me develop my pedagogy in a way I never expected; it was both beautiful and challenging.”

After graduation, Jaddock was contracted by the Folk Dance Department at Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah, where he staged original choreography and coached their company dancers; one such piece is a dance from the Bukovyna region of Ukraine that the BYU students performed at their Christmas Around the World show in December 2022.  

A sketch of two figures in traditional Ukrainian outfits.

Jaddock continues to adjudicate many dance competitions and spent most of August 2023 teaching summer intensives in Canada. He also had the opportunity to judge a talent competition at Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival, which represented a full-circle moment for him.

“This dance competition was the first one I ever adjudicated back in 2016, and to come back in 2023 with even more knowledge to share with the dancers was really special,” says Jaddock.

Specializing in Ukrainian dance and celebrating his culture is especially powerful for Jaddock in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“As Ukrainians living abroad, we wake up every day and get to choose to preserve and celebrate this culture; the people living in Ukraine right now don’t have this choice,” says Jaddock. “The more we do to preserve and explore Ukrainian culture as its own identity, the easier it is to pull up our fellow Ukrainians and keep them with us as they fight for their freedom.”

Another full-circle moment is also on the horizon for Jaddock. In spring 2024, he will stage a new piece of choreography for BYU’s main company; this piece is based off of the choreography he created for his Steinhardt Masters’ Concert but never got to perform because of the pandemic.

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