Mriya has been a staple of the Ukrainian community in Long Island for over 45 years. The ensemble has represented Ukrainian culture and heritage with performances in multiple Ukrainian and multi-ethnic events throughout the tri-state area, as well as local community festival and venues. Since the group’s inception, it has changed names and had numerous instructors with invaluable Ukrainian dance experience and multiple disciplines. The ensemble’s evolution through the years is a testament to its devotion to maintaining the Ukrainian folk arts. In 2016, the ensemble acquired Roman Lewkowicz as their artistic director.
Mr Lewkowicz started dancing at the young age of three at St John the Baptist Ukrainian Orthodox Church in Johnson City, NY. His local church group’s was his first introduction to Ukrainian dance, whose repertoire consisted of dances choreographed by Vasyl Avramenko.
At age 17, Mr Lewkowicz began attending Ukrainian dance camps and workshops in upstate NY, under the tutelage of the late Roma-Prima Bohachevsky. He studied at the Roberson school of ballet in Binghamton, NY.
Mr Lewkowicz attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA and was accepted into the Tamauritzans, where he received scholarship for each of his three years of participation. He had the opportunity to train with professional choreographers of each represented country and to perform over 90 shows a season, as ambassadors of the university, throughout the United States and Canada.
1998 was a monumental year for Mr Lewkowicz as he was accepted as a member to the Dukla Ukrainian Folk Company (or PUL’S as it has come to be known) in Presov Slovakia. PUL’S is a world-renowned professional company whose history dates back over 60 years. He was employed as a dancer and soloist, who also had the privilege to choreograph dances for the company’s 44th and 46th seasons.
In 2001, Roman made his first trip to Ukraine to stay and work with a personal friend Olexa Khyzhun, the head of dance for the Zakarpattia Conservatory in Uzhhorod. Mr Khyzhun, whose specialty was the dances of Zakarpattia and its multiple sub-regions, took Roman under his wing. This experience was the most influential in the artistic direction Mr Lewkowicz would take when he returned to the United States.
For the next decade and a half, Roman traveled, taught and choreographed at numerous ensembles in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Ohio, Connecticut, New Mexico, Toronto, ON, as well as in Presov, SK.
Shortly upon moving to Long Island, Mr Lewkowicz was happy to be welcomed in 2016 as the artistic director of MRIYA Ukrainian Youth Dance Ensemble of Uniondale, NY.