Sarah Jessica Parker will produce a documentary about the United Ukrainian Ballet. The actress is a former dancer and a vice chairman of the board of directors for the New York City Ballet.
The documentary – Front Row – is in post-production and will be distributed in 2024.
Two Ukrainian ballet dancers, Stanislav Olshanskyi and Alexis Tuttunique, were on tour with Dutch ballerina Igone de Jongh when Russia invaded their homeland. The dancers found refuge in The Hague and called on other dance professionals from Ukraine to join them.
Over 60 professionals from different companies have since united in The Hague and formed The United Ukrainian Ballet Company (UUBC), working with Jiří Kylián, Alexei Ratmansky and others on various productions. Igone de Jongh is the company's artistic director, supported by the United Ukrainian Ballet Foundation (UUBF).
The Front Row documentary is directed by Miriam Guttmann and follows the dancers as they settle in and form the new company. When in Washington D.C. to perform Ratmansky's version of Giselle, one of the principal dancers befriends a front-line soldier who lost both his legs in a battle on the Ukrainian border. The soldier will not let his disability prevent him from performing with the company.
Front Row puts perseverance and the human condition on display against the punishing backdrop of war. Giving these dancers an international platform to tell their stories through the power, beauty and grit of ballet is a profound honour.
The documentary observes video calls between the dancers and their families that show the ‘survivor's guilt' they face away from their homes and the war.
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.