NAPLES – A Ukrainian ballerina who fled the war in her homeland and a Russian ballerina who left the Bolshoi Ballet because of the Russian invasion rehearsed on a stage in Naples ahead of a sold-out benefit performance Monday night to raise funds for the Red Cross and get involved in the cause of peace in Ukraine.
The San Carlo Theater in Naples announced the event “Rise with Ukraine – Ballet for Peace”.
Despite this description, the prospect of Russian dancers dancing with Ukrainians on the same stage is said to have angered the Ukrainian consul in Naples. The Italian daily La Repubblica quoted the consul urging other Ukrainians in the southern Italian city to avoid the performance.
One of the stars of the event is prima ballerina Olga Smirnova, who left the Bolshoi last month and is now dancing with the Dutch National Ballet. Another headliner is Anastasia Gurskaya, a top ballerina at the Kiev Opera who fled the fighting in Ukraine.
“I think it’s important in this situation, at this time, to be on stage together. Doing small things, the smallest things we can do for Ukraine,” Smirnova told reporters in the theater before the dress rehearsal. “That is the main goal for all of us. That’s why we’re here, that’s why we’re dancing tonight.”
Her fellow prima ballerina Gurskaya said her performance was a way to help Ukraine.
“My life is upside down now. And I’ve never been to this city in Italy, and I’ve never danced with stars like I do today, with world stars of ballet, and I’m so excited about it. And I don’t know why it happened to me,” the Ukrainian dancer told The Associated Press. “I’m really happy that I’m here and that I can help and support my country with my dancing today.”
The theater’s artistic director, Alessio Carbone, welcomed Smirnova’s participation.
“Olga is a very powerful image for us because she was obviously the first dancer to publicly oppose the (Putin) regime. So having her with us tonight is an inspiration of courage,” said Carbone.
No one responded to phone calls to the Ukrainian consulate in Naples on Monday. Calls to the mayor’s press office went unanswered.
About a dozen demonstrators, some holding Ukrainian flags, demonstrated in front of the theater before the event to show their dissatisfaction with the participation of Russian dancers.
Before the rehearsal, one of the Ukrainian dancers talked about it a small town near Kyiv where the chilling finds of civilian corpses have surfaced.
According to Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, the bodies of 410 civilians have been removed from towns in the Kyiv area recently recaptured by Russian forces. Associated Press journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in Bucha, northwest of the capital.
Stanislav Olshanskyi, who has been dancing at the Kiev Opera House since 2018, says he has lived in Bucha for five years.
“It’s my city. I know this town, I’ve walked the streets,” he told the AP. “These photos… it’s awful. I can’t think about it, it’s like it’s out of this world, it can’t be real. But I know it’s true and we will never forgive that.”
Frances D’Emilio reported from Rome.
Follow all AP stories about the Russian invasion of Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission.
https://www.ksat.com/entertainment/2022/04/04/russian-ukrainian-ballet-stars-to-dance-together-in-naples/ Russian and Ukrainian ballet stars dance together in Naples