Yumi La Blanca
Dance for Ukraine
Alina Cojocaru and Ivan Putriv are not just acclaimed ballet stars themselves but also dedicated impresarios of quality dance productions. In an artistic response to the situation in Ukraine, they organised in two weeks a fundraising ballet gala on 19th March 2022, ‘Dance for Ukraine’, at the same venue of London Coliseum that had to cancel ‘Ballet Icons Gala’, supposedly involving many guest dancers from Russia, a week earlier.
Trained in Kiev as childhood friends, Putrov from Ukraine and Cojocaru from Romania reunited at The Royal Ballet of the UK, where they both had critical acclaim as Principal dancers. For this charity gala, they invited 22 leading dancers of different nationalities from several dance companies of the UK and beyond, including The Royal Ballet, English National Ballet, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Northern Ballet, The Paris Opera Ballet and Company Wayne McGregor.
(Both interviews include footage of Putrov rehearsing Luca Acri (Japan/Italy) of The Royal Ballet for ‘Lacrimosa’)
The invited Ukrainian dancers were Katja Khaniukova and Marranna Tsembenhoi, who respectively opened and concluded the dancing numbers. With her Spanish colleague Aitor Arriera from English National Ballet, Khaniukova beautifully delivered the first dance piece ‘No Man’s Land’, choreographed by Liam Scarlett. Tsembenhoi, a young promising dancer from The Royal Ballet, gave the last dance piece as solo, ‘Requiem’ by Kenneth MacMillan, immersing in the beautiful singing by fellow Ukrainian Inna Guseva.
Originally created for ENB’s programme ‘Lest We Forget’ in 2014 to commemorate World War I, Scarlett’s ‘No Man’s Land’ sadly resonated with the emotions caused by the conflict as of now, entailing a poignant yet powerful atmosphere. Similarly, MacMilan’s ‘Requiem’, a tribute to his fellow artist John Cranko who died at the unexpected age of 45, served as a genuine and universal prayer for those who have been lost too early because of the disaster.
The co-organiser Cojocaru elegantly danced with Mathieu Ganio, an Étoile of The Paris Opera Ballet, in ‘Lady of the Camellias’ by John Neumeier, who provided support for this cause from his artistic home, Hamburg Ballet of Germany. Likewise, Natalia Osipova, a Russian ballerina from The Royal Ballet, dedicated her soul through the emotional performance of ‘Ashes’ choreographed by her partner Jason Kittelberger, expressing deep sadness and devastation with a hint of eagerness for peace. The nationalities of other guests included the UK, Italy, Spain, Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, the USA, Canada, Japan and Australia.
While the gala opened with the Ukrainian National Anthem featuring Ksenia Nikolaieva from the country, for which the audience stood up in solidarity, the show concluded with the music ‘Apotheosis’ from the ballet ‘Raymonda’ by Alexander Glazounov, a classical composer from Russia, for which all the dancers lined up in solidarity in front of graduations of Ukrainian colours, listened to the gorgeous orchestra of English National Opera rather than dancing. Entitled as ‘The Triumph of Love’, it was like they showed their belief in love and respect to each other through art.
In Putrov’s own words, ‘Russian doesn’t equal aggression. Russian doesn’t mean support for genocide in Ukraine.’ Arts are not for dividing us but for uniting us. The show may be over, but the humanitarian fundraiser still continues.
Ivan Putrov’s interview in ‘International ballet stars perform ‘Dance for Ukraine’ gala:
(also showing excerpts from ‘La Corsaire’ by Mayara Magri and Francesco Gabriele Frola, ‘No Man’s Land’ by Katja Khaniukova and Aitor Arrieta, ‘Requiem’ by Marianna Tsembenhoi)
Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal
The Hospices of Hope Ukraine Appeal