Profile: Abram Meagher - Dancing to the beat of a different culture
Abram Meagher discovered his love for Ukrainian dancing at the early age of eight years and he has been a member of the Fort McMurray Avrora Ukrainian Dance Club since. He will tell you that many Ukrainian eight-year-olds can dance better. “There are eight-year-old dancers that make me look bad,” he jokes. However, Meagher’s performance and actions tell a different story.
Today, he has 32 medals won in group competitions and he instructs Ukrainian dance techniques in Fort McMurray to over 20 children aged four to 11. For Meagher, it was his love for the dance that kept him intrigued as a child and now, a 16-year-old young adult, it’s the Ukrainian culture and its people that fascinate him.
“Ukrainians are probably the most fun people on the planet,” Meagher declares. “I come from a strong Irish background and have no Ukrainian blood in me,” he adds as he takes a break from preparing for Malanka – the Ukrainian New Year’s celebration to be held at the Sawridge Inn & Conference Centre on Jan. 19, 2013. As for the dance, Meagher explains how it is used to interpret Ukraine’s history. “Each step has a meaning,” he says excitedly. “Every movement has to do with how they moved and walked around. The costume is a big part of the culture. The colour tells you which region [the dance] belongs to.” Meagher explains how he teaches the children these meanings and, when it comes to instructing the dance, it can be hard work at times.
He says his favourite part of teaching is when the children have their break-through moment. “It’s great to see when the children ‘get it’ and when they understand the meanings behind the dance.” Throughout his dancing career, Meagher was learning the Ukrainian language and he taught himself the alphabet. “Through dancing, I started reading Russian. I’m very weak, but I have enough to survive in a country.”
This will be a tremendous help during his first trip to Ukraine in August 2013.
Until then, Meagher is looking forward to The Fort McMurray Ukrainian Cultural Society and Avrora Dancers’ Malanka celebration. “It’s a great time with amazing food,” he notes, adding that he likes how the performers intermingle with the audience. “It’s a more personal experience and it boosts the kids,” he says. For more information on the Malanka celebration, visit www.fmukrainiandance.com