WASHINGTON — From war refugees to the Kennedy Center stage in Washington, D.C., the men and women of the United Ukrainian Ballet company hope that by performing in the U.S. they can shed light on the crisis happening back home.
The company comprised of 60 Ukrainian dancers, most of who fled their country to escape Russian invasion, made their U.S. debut Wednesday night after arriving in the District from The Hague.
"Performing in the U.S. is important because the U.S. gives Ukraine a lot of support in fighting against the Russians," Ksenia Novikova, a dancer in the company, said. "So we are very thankful to your country. We want to share our art and to show the audience that we are still a nation. We deserve to live. We have our own identify and art. And we want to spread our Ukrainian word."
Sunday is the last day to see the company perform its version of the classic ballet “Giselle,” with choreography by Alexei Ratmansky. "Giselle" is described as a story about love, madness, betrayal, death and forgiveness, themes that resonate with current circumstances in Ukraine.
It has been almost a year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, officials claim more than 7,000 lives have been lost and millions displaced. Novikova said she hopes the performance will spark interest in what is going on in Ukraine to those who have not been paying attention.
"All of the world should support Ukraine right now," dancer Victor Lytvynov said. "We are here to remind you."
In March of 2022, through the efforts of Dutch dancer Igone De Jongh, a foundation was established to support the United Ukrainian Ballet company, which was founded to protect, support and spread the Ukrainian culture that has come under pressure since the war.
The foundation not only aims to provide training and employment for Ukrainian dancers who have fled, but also to raise funds and donations in support of reconstructing the war torn country.
So far, the ballet company has toured the Netherlands, London, Australia and Singapore.
All profits from ticket sales will be given to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and the United Ukrainian Ballet Foundation, which has been set up in the Netherlands to protect, support and spread Ukrainian culture.
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