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Washington: the United Ukrainian Ballet goes up to the “cultural front”


It is a dance company but also a “diplomatic mission”. Composed of dancers who fled the Russian invasion, the United Ukrainian Ballet, which is performing this week in Washington, intends to bring Ukrainian culture to life in the eyes of the world.

Almost a year after the start of the war, the ballet performed


Wednesday night on the stage of the prestigious Kennedy Center.

An enthusiastic audience gave a long standing ovation to the dancers, who sang the Ukrainian national anthem hand on heart at the end of the premiere while waving their country's flag.

Continuing to dance despite the war is a way of fighting

"on the cultural front"

, says Yuliia Kuzmych, 27, one of its members, who was a dancer at the Opera in Kiev before joining the company .

Read alsoThese heroes of kyiv who dance despite the war

This "United Ukrainian Ballet" based in The Hague, the Netherlands, brings together dozens of professional artists from all over Ukraine, whom the war has pushed into exile.

"It started as a small idea and ended up becoming something huge,"

says Dutch prima ballerina Igone de Jongh, who spearheaded the initiative.

The first thing was to provide a safe place for the dancers and allow them to continue dancing

,” she explains.

But it's also

"the best way to keep Ukrainian culture alive and visible

," she adds.

“Slav Ukrainian”

If at the beginning, the dancers found themselves in the same place

"due to tragic circumstances"

, they are

"slowly becoming a company because they are all united by the idea that they represent the country"

, affirms famous choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, Ukrainian flag pin on jacket.

“They represent the culture of this country and are not military.

They are artists (…) and they fight in their field”

, continues the artist who worked at the Bolshoi, in Moscow, and who does not have enough harsh words for “

the dictator

” Vladimir Putin.

At the very beginning, only women were able to join the company, according to the choreographer, with men of fighting age having to obtain special authorization to leave the country.

But the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture,

"which considered this project to be an important cultural message to the world

", ended up issuing the permits to dancers.

Read alsoBanksy flowers the ruins of Ukraine with his latest frescoes

This is how 30-year-old Oleksii Kniazkov, who worked at the National Opera in Kharkiv, was able to travel to the Netherlands.

At the time of the invasion, he was preparing to play

Romeo and Juliet


"It wasn't so easy"

to get permission to leave, which arrived in July, he said before warming up for


's second performance in Washington.

Since then, he considers that his work within the United Ukrainian Ballet is of the order,


, of the

"diplomatic mission"


“Our performances are important because we come into contact with ordinary people.

We unite Ukrainians, Americans and people from other countries in emotion,”

he said.

“We are all fighting for Ukraine's freedom, and we do it through art

,” adds Svitlana Onipko, 27, a dancer from Kiev who joined the ballet in The Hague in September.

On Wednesday evening, some of the Kennedy Center spectators waved national flags, while others wore brightly colored Ukrainian shawls.

"Slava Ukrainiani!"


Glory to Ukraine

”), launched a young woman in the public under redoubled applause.

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2023-02-05

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