While it can sometimes be a cause for strife, one of the most amazing things about all of us who live on this beautiful blue marble are our different cultures. Traditions, stories, and art of all kinds are born from people of a common geographic and ethnic heritage. But it’s never better than when it’s shared with the world.
In Ukraine, centuries ago, soldiers-for-hire performed improvisational dances showing off their strength, athletic ability, and their creativity. These dances came to be known as “the Hopak,” from the Russian word for “jump”
A practice routine of this dance, also known as “the Cossack kick,” has gone viral recently. These professional Ukrainian dancers excel at performing the Hopak dance.
The group of ten young men are dressed in comfortable gear, except for a few wearing red hussar boots. A style of boot favored by the hessians for their low heel and pointed toes, the red color has a symbolic meaning to the dancers, and their moves show that this footwear is not to be taken lightly.
In the 17th century, these dances moved from around the campfires of mercenaries and became a key part of the culture.
Today, these routines are much more choreographed than they used to be. The dancers move in unison, mostly squatting low to the ground and bounding upwards. It’s not an easy feat, but they make it look effortless.
However, these young men elevate their performance not just by their steps, but the enthusiasm and joy with which they do them.
There aren’t lyrics accompanying the music, so during performers’ solos, the other men sing along. Even though their thighs must be burning with effort, all of them wear wide smiles. Even the dancers watching the rehearsal can’t help but join in. One woman is seen swaying her traditional skirts while they dance and kick.
Words cannot do justice for this performance, which has many parts and each dancer shines when it’s his moment in the spotlight. Anyone who gets a chance to see them perform this live is in for a rare treat.
For those of us who don’t get to see it in person, we’ll always have this video showing us not just this bit of Ukranian culture, but the joy it brings to the performers.
Watch the video below, but don’t try this at home!