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8:23 a.m .: A ballet of Ukrainian refugees fights in its own way on 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 “Giselle” 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”, slips Yuliia Kuzmych, 27, one of its members, who was a dancer at the Opera in kyiv before joining the company .

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.

The first was to provide a safe place for the dancers and allow them to continue dancing, explains Dutch prima ballerina Igone de Jongh, who initiated the initiative. But it is also “the best way to keep Ukrainian culture alive and visible”, adds the dancer.

The dancers of the “United Ukrainian Ballet” performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC on February 1, 2023
The dancers of the “United Ukrainian Ballet” performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, on February 1, 2023 – Stefani Reynolds/AFP
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