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A Ukrainian ballet forgets the evils of war with shows in Paris

One of the companies ballet Ukraine’s most famous celebrities begin a series of shows in Paris this week, a welcome break from their warlike routine of airstrikes and blackouts interrupting their performances.

The production of “Giselle”, a romantic-era classic by the Ukrainian National Opera Ballet, caps a period of difficulties since the Russian invasion in February, coupled with the normal stress of rehearsals, now interrupted by airstrikes and aggravated by the flight of dancers abroad.

The star dancer Natalia Matsak remembers in particular a performance from a few months ago when a siren sounded, forcing it to be suspended. “We went out to say hello and the curtain fell immediately. We didn’t have time to greet properly”Matsak told AFP.

Russian airstrikes have become a regular feature of kyiv life, with the latest, on Monday, again causing power, water and heating outages in sub-zero temperatures. At the National Opera, raids force spectators into bomb shelters alongside dancers, who try to remain flexible during breaks that can last more than an hour.

dancers on the run

The company has also suffered a mass exodus of dancers in the face of the escalating war, as have millions of Ukrainians who have left the country. “Many women have left the group. The changes in the integration of the group are colossal”confirmed the first soloist, Sergei Kryvokon.

A former solo dancer turned pedagogue, Oleksandre Chapoval, volunteered the day after the Russian invasion. He was killed at age 47 in a September mortar attack in the eastern Donbas region.

Despite the war, the dancers have returned to Ukraine because they miss their homes and their jobs, Kryvokon explained. In Paris he will play the role of Prince Albrecht alongside Natalia Matsak in the title role. The tour at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées includes 17 performances in 16 days.

The theater’s website describes this tragic love story as “one of the great classical ballets” that the dancers “master to perfection.” Although the two dancers have performed this ballet with other couples, this will be the first time they have done it together.

“We have been working on this show for less than two weeks”, Kryvokon recounted, sweat beading on his forehead from intense rehearsal.

More Tchaikovsky

In recent years, the Ukrainian National Opera Ballet has toured France with the Christmas classic The Nutcracker, by Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky. But the Russian invasion made it impossible to include that work in his repertoire.

“Tchaikovsky is a symbol of Russia so our ballet does not dance the Nutcracker or his other ballets”said Sergei Skouz, administrator of the company.

Such a decision is shared by the foreign dancers who left the famous Russian Bolshoi Ballet, whose tours to the West were canceled after the invasion. The Bolshoi, in turn, canceled performances by directors critical of the war.

The Ukrainian dancers wanted to promote Giselle by French composer Adolphe Adam instead. It is a “respected world classic” that has been performed “on our stage for several decades,” Kryvokon explained.

The dancers also want to show that, despite the many difficulties in the last year, they can still put on a high-quality show. “Every trip abroad is of great importance to us today,” Kryvokon explained. “There we have to be at our best level, and we will gladly show our level”Held.

Source: Elcomercio

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