Ukrainian ballet company returns

Grand Kyiv Ballet of Ukraine. (Supplied)

Matt Hewson

Geelong ballet enthusiasts will have the chance to witness world-class artists when the Grand Kyiv Ballet returns to Australia this May due to popular demand.

The Ukrainian company, who visited Geelong in July last year, will perform a double bill, presenting legendary Ukrainian showpiece Forest Song in one act before launching into a two-act version of the much-loved romantic comedy Don Quixote.

Artistic director Oleksandr Stoianov said the company had come a long way since he founded it in 2014.

“We started with just 30 dancers, most of them from different Ukrainian theatres; Odessa, Lviv, Kharkiv and National Opera of Ukraine,” Stoianov said.

“We rented the costumes and created all the props ourselves, they were handmade, and we started with 33 performances in our first year. Now, we have more than 120 dancers, more than 80 productions and more than 300 performances per year.

“My main idea, when I created this company, was to separate from Moscow Ballet. Two times in my life Russian has tried to take my home, the first time Crimea in 2014 and the second time in 2022.

“It’s very difficult for our people now, but they still try to smile, they still have power and they still fight for the future for our children. And not just for our children, for all civilians and the democratic world.”

Forest Song, based on the 1911 poetic play of the same name, tells the story of the love between mystical forest creature Mavka and man Lukash and contains many mythological images from Ukrainian folk talkies.

“This ballet is very important for Ukraine, for all the people who live in Ukraine now and Ukrainians who live in different countries,” Stoianov said.

“When we come with Forest Song, we bring a piece of their country, a piece of their culture for them.

“And of course, ballet and art heal people. A lot of people have their problems at home, at work, and when they come to the theatre, it’s like a church; they can purify their mind, their soul, and they can be part of our fairy tale, of our story.

“Because ballet is often about love, about betrayal, about mysticism. It’s really interesting and people, when they go home, they take with them a piece of our soul, a piece of our heart, a piece of our art.”

The Grand Kyiv Ballet is at Geelong Arts Centre on Tuesday, May 14.