Some of the dance names that have been making headlines recently will dance for Ukraine in two upcoming galas in Italy: Olga Smirnova, Victor Caixeta, Jacopo Tissi, Iana Salenko, Anastasia Matvienko and Denis Matvienko. A generous roster of names includes Maria Kochetkova, Alina Cojocaru, Johan Kobborg, Liudmila Konovalova and many others.
Ballet for Peace
The Naples gala, Ballet for Peace, at the glorious San Carlo Theatre in Napoles has been organised by Alessio Carbone, former Premier Danseur with the Paris Opera Ballet.
Dance has the power to move, to unite – says Carbone – and that's why the idea for this gala was born. The rich history of classical dance and its traditions are deeply linked to Ukrainian and Russian cultures. We will use the strength of our passion and the beautiful friendship that exists between dancers to help Ukraine and show the world that we remain united for peace.
Russian ballerina Olga Smirnova, who recently left the Bolshoi Ballet for Dutch National Ballet, and the Brazilian dancer Victor Caixeta who left the Mariinsky Ballet for the same company, will dance together at the gala.
Anastasia Matvienko and Denis Matvienko have both recently left their St Petersburg home and will dance in the gala. Yesterday, Alexei Ratmansky, who has been posting statements from dancers and choreographers on his Facebook profile, put up a long statement from Denis Matvienko which reads:
A week ago, my family and I packed our bags and flew away with the children from Russia, from the city of St Petersburg, which has been our home for 15 years! We flew away to nowhere, without any plans, leaving our beloved home, the theatres where we danced for so many years, the children's studies, work, friends, and everything that we hold so dear, everything that we love immensely!
But we were lucky, because at least we had time to take some belongings with us, unlike our relatives and childhood friends in Ukraine who have spent weeks hiding from bombardments in basements, without communication, electricity, and water, who run with babies in their arms from the danger spots that are wherever they look!
We are more convinced than ever that our choice to leave Russia was the right one!
The extraordinary line up of Russian and Ukrainian dancers includes the Ukrainian Oleksandr Ryabko, principal dancer with Hamburg Ballet, who will dance with his Italian wife, Silvia Azzoni. Ratmansky reported the couple as saying:
We are living days of horror, anguish, and fear! The actions of this last weeks changed not only the lives of our family, relatives and friends, but of a whole country and possibly the whole world! Our hearts bleed for all the people affected by this terrible war and we fear for all them!!!
An overwhelming wave of help and support has been shown to women and children of Ukraine, who have had to flee and leave their husbands and fathers behind. We encourage everyone to continue this incredible example of humanity and human kindness in any possible way. We are all human sharing this place called earth and we must find a way to live all together!!!
Timofej Andrijashenko, who was born in Riga in Latvia, but whose family are of Russian and Ukrainian origin, will dance with his partner and fellow principal dancer at La Scala Ballet, Nicoletta Manni.
Russian dancers Alexey Popov and Liudmila Konovalova, both principal dancers with the Vienna State Ballet, will participate, together with two principal dancers from the Kyiv National Ballet, the Ukrainians Anastasia Gurskaya and Stanislav Olshanskyi.
Kyiv-born Iana Salenko will dance with her fellow Berlin State Ballet principal Dinu Tamazlacaru who is from Moldavia. Two leading dancers from the Vienna State Ballet, the Russian ballerina Maria Yakovleva and Denys Cherevychko who was born in Donetsk in Ukraine, are another couple taking part. Another Kyiv-born dancer, Kateryna Shalkina, will dance with her on and offstage partner, the Columbian Oscar Chacon.
The ballerina Maria Kochetkova, from Moscow, will dance in a choreography by her Danish partner Sebastian Kloborg.
Ratmansky reported Kochetkova as saying:
The horror of what's happening in Ukraine is hard to comprehend. My heart breaks for the people of Ukraine, the thousands of people who lost their lives and the millions of people who have fled their homes to escape the Russian bombings.
I admire the bravery of my colleagues, friends or anyone in Russia who risks losing their jobs and freedom by protesting against this war. This is an unfolding tragedy that is a result of heartless men and abuse of their power.
I've never been to Kiev and Kharkiv and it's always been my dream to visit the place where my grandparents came from. Haven't we learned anything from the past?
Dancers from San Carlo's ballet company include Anna Chiara Amirante, Luisa Ieluzzi, Stanislao Capissi, and Alessandro Staiano.
TEATRO SAN CARLO, NAPLES – Monday 4 April 2022 at 21.00
Pace for Peace
The Pace for Peace gala at the Teatro Arcimboldi in Milan (the theatre that recently announced the postponement of Sergei Polunin's show Rasputin) features Jacopo Tissi who became a principal dancer at the Bolshoi Theatre in just January of this year. He left Russia at the beginning of March.
Others offering their services are Sergio Bernal, Alina Cojocaru, Leonardo Cremaschi, Petar Dorcevski, Anastasia Gurskaj, Johan Kobborg, Eugenia Korshunova, Stanislav Olshansky, Alexey Popov, Simone Repele, Simon Ripert, Sasha Riva, and Aleksei Tiutiunnik. Dancers taking part who are also in the Naples gala are Silvia Azzoni, Oleksandr Ryabko, Oleksandr Ryabko and Liudmila Konovalova. Proceeds will go to the Italian Red Cross' Ukraine fund.
TEATRO ARCIMBOLDI, MILANO – Thursday 7 Aprile 2022 at 21.00
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.