KASHTAN, a Ukrainian dance ensemble, was considered one of the city's major ethnic performing groups. It was founded late in 1979 by Zenon Holubec and Markian Komichak. The latter also served as its first artistic director. The group featured a melding of Ukrainian folk dance with techniques of classical ballet and character dance. Kashtan's repertoire consisted primarily of folk classics, and was oriented toward preserving the classic dances of Ukraine. Associated with the Dance Ensemble is the Kashtan School of Ukrainian Dance.
The group eventually moved from its own ethnic community to local notice and then beyond. Kashtan has appeared at the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE and at festivals across the U.S. and abroad. In 1990 the group received a first place award for excellence at the "Hromada" festival in Lviv, Ukraine. David Woznak became the second artistic director in 1990, while Komichak became executive director, a position he still held as of 1995. Woznak remained artistic director until 1993, when he became director of the school. He was succeeded as artistic director by James Basso, a student of dance who had been with Kashtan since 1981. Kashtan is supported by school tuition, performance earnings, donations from the Ukrainian community, and grants.