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Ethnic-chaos band DakhaBrakha bridges Ukrainian folklore and theatre

DakhaBrakha
The three women in DakhaBrakha often perform on-stage in furry hats. Photo by Vitaliy Vorobyov.

The Kyiv quartet DakhaBrakha has a catchy way it describe itself. The musicians and their director and ideologist say they’re a Ukrainian “ethnic-chaos” band.

DakhaBrakha actually means “give/take” in the old Ukrainian language. And when these theatrical musicians go on tour, it’s always in solidarity with the Ukrainian resistance against Russia.

On March 29, the band will bring its Ukrainian melodies—accompanied by Indian, Arabic, African, and Ukrainian instrumentation—to the Massey Theatre in New Westminster. The following night, DakhaBrakha will play the Farquhar at UVic in Victoria.

Famed theatre director Vladyslav Troitskyi—the aforementioned ideologist—created DakhaBrakha in 2004 at the Kyiv Centre of Contemporary Art. The four performers are Marko Halanevych, Iryna Kovalenko, Olena Tsybulkska, and Nina Garenetska.

In 2020, the Kyiv-based DakhaBrakha won the 2020 Shevchenko National Prize in the musical arts category.

Watch DakhaBrakha perform in the NPR Music Front Row series.

DkahaBrakha mixes musical styles

According to the promoter of the show, Caravan World Rhythms, DakhaBrakha performs at the crossroads of Ukrainian folklore and theatre. On its current tour, the band is playing hits from its previous six albums along with new songs written during the war with Russia.

The three female members of DakhaBrakha are known for coming on-stage in tall, furry hats, which they also wear on their website. According to NPR culture correspondent Anastasia Tsioulcas, the group “mixes everything from punk-pop to traditional Ukrainian songs in cool yet beguiling textures, often with close harmonies usually associated with Balkan music”.

Their shows also include video projections, including some repeatedly declaring that Ukraine will win.

Caravan World Rhythms will present DakhaBrakha at the Massey Theatre at 8 p.m. on March 29 and 8 p.m. on March 30 at the Farquhar at UVic. For tickets and more information, visit the Caravan World Rhythms website. The band’s other 2024 dates are listed on its website.

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Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.