Vianney, showman with a big heart

From Russia to Argentina, via Japan, France or Cuba, international ballet stars offered a large humanitarian gala for Ukraine on Saturday in London, in order to raise funds and send “a message of unity” against this “horrible” war.

The yellow and blue flag of Ukraine floated outside the London Coliseum, home of the English National Opera, where the fundraising exceeded the organizers’ expectations, with 140,000 pounds sterling (about 171,000 francs) collected between the donations and the price of the tickets, even before the start of the evening.

The evening, opened to the sound of the Ukrainian anthem, ended with “The Triumph of Love” from a ballet by Russian composer Alexander Glazunov. The money will go to benefit the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), a coalition of British humanitarian associations which has already raised some 200 million pounds for Ukraine.

“Please continue your support,” prayed Ukrainian dancer and producer Ivan Putrov, coordinator of the sold-out performance.

“Humanitarian appeal”

The Ukrainian ambassador to London Vadym Prystaiko was given a standing ovation while Ivan Putrov and his accomplice for the organization, the Romanian dancer Alina Cojacaru, extolled the importance of such a spectacle, “for democracy, to defend freedom and human values”.

“As artists, we have talent and we have to use it to say what we believe in. Art has a voice and that’s the voice we use,” Ivan previously told AFP. Putrov.

The Ukrainian was principal dancer of the prestigious Royal Ballet in London from 2002 to 2010. Today, as he sees his country destroyed by war, what is at stake for him and Alina Cojocaru, trained like him in kyiv where they always friends and loved ones, was to mobilize the world of ballet for a “humanitarian appeal”.

“What is happening is horrible”, explains Ivan Putrov, who has assembled an exceptional cast to “raise funds that will save lives” and “send a message not only to the West (…) but also to the Russians , some of whom will hear us and lift up their voices”.

Among the stars of the evening, the Russian Natalia Osipova, the Argentine Marianela Núñez and the Japanese Fumi Kaneko, from the Royal Ballet and the French Mathieu Ganio from the Paris Opera. The Ukrainian Katja Khaniukova, the Spaniard Katja Khaniukova and the American Emma Hawes (English National Ballet) were also on stage.

“Humanitarian duty”

“Is art appropriate in such horrible circumstances? Of course it is, because it gives hope, inspiration to people”, assures Ivan Putrov.

The gala honored several Russian composers, besides Glazunov, such as Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, because “Russian culture has nothing to do with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin, and Putin has nothing to do with Russian culture”, insists the Ukrainian dancer.

“And the dance has been so integrated for centuries that you can’t really attribute it to any particular nation. So it’s really a message of unity,” he adds.

Among the artists responding to the call, the Russian dancer Natalia Osipova, famous in her country, refused any interview.

Cuban Javier Torres, from Northern Balle, danced a male version of Camille Saint-Saens’ “La mort du cygne”. The work which depicts a paraplegic losing a limb “represents the fight for what we have lost”, explains Javier Torres to AFP.

“She talks about fighting to the end,” he adds, referring to “people who try to resist what is happening to them”, such as Cubans suffering for decades from American sanctions or Ukrainians immersed in war. . Participating in the gala is for Javier Torres “a humanitarian duty (…) first as a person and then as an artist”.

This article has been published automatically. Sources: ats / afp

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Vianney, showman with a big heart