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    Interview with Ukrainian ballet director: “We speak for our country”

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    Mr. Zhuravlev, how have you been since the Russian war of aggression began to escalate?
    The morning of February 24th divided my life into a “before” and an “after”. My wife, the dancer Kateryna Kalchenko, and I woke up around 5 am. We heard explosions and shots. We realized we had to pack up and leave quickly.

    Because we had a five-month-old baby whose passport we wanted to pick up that day. We decided to go abroad even though we were traveling without papers. I only had one thought: How can I keep my family safe?

    What happened next?
    We were deeply depressed and apathetic. After all, it is very difficult to follow what is happening in your own country 24/7. In this state you have no desire to do or create anything. Another difficult moment was the professional challenge.

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    We were rehearsing “Radio & Juliet & Quatro” for March 19th performance in Zagreb. Everything was ready and the project was approved. But out of the whole team, only my wife and I ended up in Europe. All other contributors stayed in Ukraine.

    Apparently you have found a way out of your apathy, because the play has already been shown several times in Europe.
    Originally I really didn’t want to get involved as my work is related to art, which means joy and entertainment. But then we saw that this state of limbo is not good for us or our relatives. We understood that we could start projects and create jobs for those who could leave. That there is a chance to organize charity events. So we got back to work.

    What did that look like?
    We contacted major European theaters to involve them in the project. I spoke to stages in Bratislava, Prague and Brno. The first confirmation came from the theater in Maribor, Slovenia, where Edward Clug, the creator of the choreography of Radio & Julia, works. Within a few days we clarified the technical issues so that we could still perform in Zagreb. I moved to Slovenia with my family for two weeks to rehearse there.

    Artistic director Ivan Zhuravlev.
    © Andriy Maksimov

    Difficult conditions, but then you even went on tour.
    Yes, in a very short time we organized tours in Italy and Romania – with gala concerts and classical pieces like “Giselle”. All artists were scattered all over Europe. But I gathered a team and found a base for rehearsals in Poland. In addition, the people had to be accommodated, which was not easy because there were many refugees.

    Where did you live at that time?
    We didn’t have a permanent home. The family went everywhere with me. In two months we visited nine countries and covered more than 30,000 kilometers. During the tour we moved by car, often going to the next town at night. In two months we completed more than 20 performances.

    After each performance we told people what was happening in Ukraine.

    Ivan Zhuravlev

    Did you also address the war in Ukraine during the tour?
    Yes, we are a mouthpiece for our country. After each performance we told people what was happening in Ukraine. There were times when I spoke to people who didn’t really believe what was happening in Ukraine. My job was to inform people about the war. That inspired me and still helps me to keep going.

    What can the audience expect from the performance in Berlin?
    The piece is very minimalist. On stage we only see the cello, the piano and the ballet dancers. The music of Radiohead’s OK Computer album and Shakespeare’s drama are a daring combination that evokes subtle emotions. Edward Clug created the choreography and production in 2005, since then the play has been very popular worldwide.

    What happens to the income?
    We are part of the #SupportUkraine initiative and work together with the non-profit Tabletochki Foundation. The money is used, for example, to support families who have to be evacuated or doctors who need equipment.

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    Source: Tagesspiegel

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