Dance has held an important place in Kateryna Kukhar’s life.
“I started at 5. I’ve danced all my life,” said Kukhar, prima ballerina with the National Opera of Ukraine, People’s Artist of Ukraine and head of the Kyiv State Ballet College, who will perform with the Grand Kyiv Ballet in Snow White at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at the Miller Theater.
Entertaining audiences is at the forefront of what she does, but now she has an added mission – preserving the culture of her country.
“Dancing helps us to survive, to wake up every day and go do something,” she said. “And of course, we think about our future and our children’s future; not just our children, but all our nation, all Ukrainian children. Art is the most powerful weapon for us.”
Many of the theaters in Ukraine have been destroyed in the war, and Kukhar and her team of 37 dancers find themselves on U.S. soil trying to continue their careers here as they can no longer do so in their homeland.
“It’s important for us to support artists in our troupe,” Kukhar said. “Many of them spent more than a week in a cold, dark basement with their children early in the war. We’ve helped many of them to leave and survive and support their families.”
As head of the Kyiv State Ballet College, she also wants to share her school and help raise funds to continue its mission to train the next generation of dancers.
“Our job is to make famous our work for Ukraine — not as a country at war but as a beautiful nation with a rich culture,” she said.
The ballet college is about 80 years old and has children from across the nation studying there. The college has a small theater and several studios for instruction. The aging facility needs repairs. It’s located in what she feels is a safe part of Ukraine, not far from the U.S. Embassy. It has not sustained any damage during the fighting.
“It has never had any renovations,” she said. “It’s very difficult now. All the government money is going to support the war.”
The group will present Snow White, which Kukhar and Oleksandr Stoyanov, Principal Dancer of the National Opera of Ukraine and the Artistic Director of the Grand Kyiv Ballet, said is a fun, family-oriented production with bright costumes, fun music and dancers performing as a myriad of animals.
“It’s a very light performance,” said Stoyanov.
And that’s something both the dancers as well as the audience members can always use — to have a brief escape from the stresses of life.
”You come with your problems and your mood. After you watch the performance, your brain, your soul (is) a little like clear,” she said. “After performances, you feel inspiration, and you have some power to create something that (makes) you feel better.
Tickets range from $35-$95. For ticket information, click here.
Charmain Z. Brackett, the publisher of Augusta Good News, has covered Augusta’s news for 35 years. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up for the newsletter here.
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