Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Spotlight On: Stephanie Turenko

UCU member Stephanie Turenko loves telling stories, and will tell them in any way she can! A real multi-media maven, she is a founding member of Toronto’s Kosa Kolektiv folk arts group, an animated filmmaker, photographer, podruha at Plast, blogger and aspiring teacher.

She spent the last year working in Michalovce, Slovakia, teaching English to children, teens, and pretty much everyone in town, and had a chance to immerse herself in a culture different, yet not entirely dissimilar, to our own. From exploring the countryside (and Europe!) with friends, to mastering the art of riding a bike in a skirt, to drinking “cola” with her students, read all about Steph’s journey on her blog Partizanska23 and perhaps be inspired to embark on one of your own?! The blog is beautifully written and brought even more to life by Steph’s vibrant photography and tells some truly fantastic stories!

But that is just one side of Steph’s story.. In our conversation she was most excited to report about the progress being made on her animated film “My Baba’s Kitchen,” which tells the tale of how her Baba and Dido met after WWII in Canada and built the life that has served as a foundation for Steph’s culturally rich Ukrainian Canadian upbringing.

Steph talks about her grandparents with great passion and pride, and her deep connection with them is palpable. She was greatly inspired and mentored by Canadian filmmaker Naomi Uman, who unlike most of us who know our roots, went on a mission to understand what her surname meant and ended up falling so in love with her origins that she moved there. Currently residing in a town not too far from her namesake, Naomi was instrumental in helping Steph find the right artists and musicians to tell her story. The film is illustrated by Anna Naronina, a talented artist living in the creative and cultural haven of Legedzine, and the film’s soundtrack was written and performed by the Lemko Bluegrass Band, a perfect blend of Ukrainian folk and traditional Canadiana that melds together like tsybulia and smetana on piping hot varenyky.

This project, a year in the making, was crowdfunded through RocketHub by many members of our community and beyond - and as a sponsor of her project, UCU can't wait to see it come to life! Look for details of the premiere on our calendar and blog in the coming months!

Тhe Kosa Kolektiv at their Kalyta Celebration 2012
Steph’s story extends even further - as a member of Kosa Kolektiv she is also very active in preserving and bringing Ukrainian folk arts and traditions to life - but ones that go beyond the typical Ukrainian Canadian experience. Kosa’s Winter Folk Fair is happening on December 13th, 2014 at St. Vlad’s (620 Spadina) between 11 and 5PM. In addition to the variety of truly unique crafts and goods available for sale, there will be a didukh making workshop, as well as koliada workshops led by Kyivan folk singer Maria Kudriavsteva. More information can be found on the Kosa Kolektiv website.

There is surely much more to come from this talented and lively young artist - keep tabs on her projects on her personal blog

Fast facts:
Favourite Ukrainian Quotаtion: "можна все на світі вибирати сину, вибрати не можна тільки батьківщину"
Favourite Ukrainian Hero: my grandparents
Favourite Slovak Food: kofola & bryndzové halušky & rezeň!
Favourite Plast song to play on Ukelele: "Oй чорна, я си чорна"
Favourite Canoe stroke: the classic J stroke
Favourite vintage Camera: lubytel I bought in Lviv at the Bazaar

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