Ukrainian ballet dancers forced to flee their homeland as a result of Russia's invasion and the ongoing war, have reorganised themselves in exile as United Ukrainian Ballet. They are based in the old Royal Conservatoire building in The Hague, supported by the Dutch government and local businesses, so they're able to continue practising their art.
United Ukrainian Ballet is coming to London in September for a series of performances of the Romantic ballet Giselle in aid of its country. All profits from ticket sales will be donated to the DEC Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal and the United Ukrainian Ballet Foundation, which has been set up in the Netherlands with a mission to protect, support and spread Ukrainian culture.
This production of Giselle has been developed by the US-based choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, who grew up in Ukraine and has acquired an unmatched reputation for reconstructing the great ballet classics, bringing them as close as possible to what they were meant to look like when first created.
Giselle is the story of the innocent peasant girl who falls in love with the aristocrat Count Albrecht, who's amusing himself by slumming it a little pretending to be a simple villager. When his betrayal is revealed, Giselle dies of grief. Act II is set at night in a forest inhabited by the unforgiving Wilis, spirits of maidens who died before their wedding day, who force any man caught in their dominion to dance to his death. A remorseful Albrecht, who comes to visit Giselle's grave, is saved from death only by the intervention of her forgiving spirit.
The ballet is set to a score by Adolphe Adam and was originally choreographed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot for its premiere in the mid-19th century. Ratmansky went back to the original, cleansing the work of many later accretions, to present a clearer, more limpid Giselle than the one we've become accustomed to.
The great ballerina Alina Cojocaru, a Romanian who trained in Kyiv (pictured top), will guest on 14 and 16 September, and we know from experience she is a deeply affecting Giselle. You will remember that Cojocaru was one of the organisers of the gala Dance for Ukraine, which took place at the Coliseum in March this year and raised upwards of £140,000 for the DEC Ukraine Appeal.
Also guesting is English National Ballet's Ukrainian first soloist Katja Khaniukova, who'll dance the title role on 13 and 15 September.
Further details are bound to emerge in the coming weeks and months – watch this space for updates.
|What||United Ukrainian Ballet, Giselle, London Coliseum|
|Where||London Coliseum, St Martin's Lane, , London , WC2N 4ES | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Charing Cross (underground)|
13 Sep 22 – 17 Sep 22, 19:30 Mats on 15, 17 at 14:30 Dur.: 2 hours inc one interval
|Price||£10-£200 (+booking fee)|
|Website||Click here to book|