In February, dancers from Kyiv City Ballet flew to Paris, not knowing that the next day Russian forces would invade their home country of Ukraine. The company recently began its first-ever U.S. tour, including a single stop in Texas at Fort Worth’s Bass Performance Hall.
Their performance “A Tribute to Peace – North Texas Welcomes Kyiv City Ballet” will be in the city for one night only on Oct. 3.
“We left almost on the last plane,” Ivan Kozlov, the company’s artistic director, said during a break from rehearsal at a tour stop in Detroit.
If you go
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Date: Oct. 3
Location: Bass Performance Hall
525 Commerce St.Fort Worth, Texas 76102
Tickets: Prices $38.50-$72. Find seats here.
The group took shelter in France, and Kozlov credits the generosity of the French government and artists from around the world, who offered them everything from shelter and rehearsal spaces to costumes and props.
The ballet company toured France and Europe before beginning its tour in the U.S. and has not returned home since.
“We refuse to call ourselves refugees because we’re (a) working company,” Kozlov said. “We are touring. We are working. We are helping Ukraine.”
The company has performed in several charity concerts to raise money for Ukrainian refugees, and as it tours around the U.S. the group is asking people to direct their donations to Operation White Stork. The nonprofit works to help provide medical supplies and evacuate children, women, elderly and sick people.
Kyiv City Ballet will be performing three pieces titled “Classical Suite,” “Men of Kyiv” and “A Tribute to Peace,” which is a new composition choreographed by Kozlov and Ekaterina Kozlova.
Texas Ballet Theater will perform “Esmeralda Pas de Deux” and “Three Preludes” set to Rachmaninoff.
“We feel like this is about Kyiv City Ballet, and we’re just there to support and help and do whatever we can to make their tour and their evening here in Fort Worth a success,” Tim O’Keefe, Texas Ballet Theater’s acting artistic director, said. “We’re just thrilled and very pleased to be able to share the stage with such an important company.”
Kozlov said that, when choreographing “A Tribute to Peace,” he wanted to keep things light and allow the audience to sit back, relax and watch a good story.
The piece starts with a few different couples who are having issues, but they’re able to solve their problems with love.
“At the end, it’s like everybody’s dancing and everybody’s happy, so it’s nothing about the war,” Kozlov said. “Just the way the world should be … and how problems should be solved.”
O’Keefe has a lot of respect for his Ukrainian colleagues and he can’t imagine how challenging it must be to continue touring while the war drags on, he said.
“They’re telling their story all over the world, which is wonderful,” he said. “But I know it’s got to be emotionally challenging for them, knowing what’s going on at home.”
While it is challenging, Kozlov said, the company is inspired by its deep gratitude to the Ukrainian soldiers who are risking their lives while protecting their loved ones and country.
“It motivates us to be stronger. We’re showing our country, representing our country from the stage through the international language of the body, of the ballet,” Kozlov said. “The show must go on.”
Marcheta Fornoff covers the arts for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at email@example.com or on Twitter. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.