It was approaching the end of February. The Kyiv City Ballet was off to Paris to embark on their European tour, a long-planned trip that should have had them safely back in Ukraine by mid-March. They didn’t know that Russia would invade their country the very next day, and their few-week tour would last into more than half a year as the displaced company sheltered and performed for months in France and Great Britain.
Since then, dance presenters throughout the world have banded together to support the company to extend the tour, which is now coming to the United States for the first time, including Tuesday at Detroit’s Music Hall. Presented in partnership with Detroit Opera, the performance doubles as a fundraiser, supporting humanitarian relief for displaced Ukrainians.
“(With the performance), we are able to acknowledge the struggles that exist within the artistic community when artists are affected by these global issues and to also see how we can be helpful,” said Detroit Opera President and CEO Wayne Brown. “It’s also providing a nod to those who have ties to Ukraine throughout our own community.”
The repertory program is called “Tribute to Peace” and features a mix of classical Ukrainian ballet and folk dance, which showcases the Ukrainian school and style of ballet, said dancer Oksana Bondarenko.
“I am proud to be Ukrainian and show my culture to the audiences in America,” she said. “Ukrainian dance is very broad.”
Music Hall President and Artistic Director Vince Paul said cultural exchange and awareness is the crux of the programming, in addition to supporting a good cause.
“We want to put Ukrainian culture on display as much as anything,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with Ukrainian culture, and these are our friends.”
Proceeds from the performance will benefit Real Help for Ukraine, a nonprofit that supports Ukrainian entrepreneurs working to solve logistical problems within their country, as well as Ukrainian refugees in Detroit.
Co-founder Jenny Feterovich said the needs are immense.
“These people are arriving with nothing, so every day we’re getting requests for (things like) clothing and furniture,” she said. “These people have to build a life all over again.”
Despite the negative circumstances of war, Bondarenko said she hopes the tour will bring some good to the situation.
“I hope people take away beauty and happiness from the performances,” she said. “Hopefully, people will be more interested in our country and culture after seeing us.”
Paul said coming to the performance is an easy way to both support Ukraine while enjoying a night out.
“It’s the most pleasant two-hour experience, but your money is actually assisting, not only the dancers and the company, but it’s also assisting the nonprofit Real Help for Ukraine,” he said. “This is the most painless philanthropy you’ll ever do in your life if you buy a ticket to this show.”
The Kyiv City Ballet will perform at 7:30 pm Tuesday, Sept. 27 at Music Hall, 350 Madison Street, Detroit. Tickets are $ 30 – $ 75 and available at Music Hall Box Office, 313-887-8501, at www.musichall.org and at www.ticketmaster.com.