Culture / Arts / Performing Arts

The Grand Kyiv Ballet Will Perform a Poignant Giselle in Dallas This Week

Catch One of the Most Famous Ballets in the World This Thursday, March 21

BY // 03.20.24

The emotional highs of Giselle, one of the world’s most famous and romantic ballets, are difficult to match. But husband and wife Kateryna Kukhar and Oleksandr Stoianov, principal dancers and stars of the Grand Kyiv Ballet’s tour, come with a tale that could rival them — albeit a far more triumphant one. Forced to flee their home in the capital of Ukraine when war broke out in early 2022, the duo underwent tremendous efforts to safely relocate themselves (and their two children) to their temporary home in Seattle. This spring, they’ll lead a troupe of 35 dancers (25 of whom are from Ukraine) on a 60-city Tour of Giselle across America, stopping in Dallas at the Winspear Opera Center on Thursday, March 21.

Ahead of the performance, PaperCity spoke with Kukhar and Stoianov about the importance of this particular tour with the Grand Kyiv Ballet, which is donating a portion of the proceeds toward the renovation efforts of the Kyiv State Choreographic College in Kyiv.

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Kateryna Kukhar performing the title role in Giselle in a costume by renowned Ukrainian designer Malva Verbitskay. (Courtesy of Grand Kyiv Ballet)

PC: What do you hope this tour can promote about the arts and culture scene in Ukraine?  
Kukhar and Stoianov: This tour is very important for Ukraine now. We use art to show a real picture of what is happening now in our country. We also support our artists and their families, and students who are still studying in Ukraine at the Kiev State Ballet College. We also give a piece of Ukraine to those Ukrainians who came to America before and after the war. Art heals the soul and consciousness. Everyone who comes to the ballet receives a piece of the artist’s energy, a new emotion. Takes a break from everyday hustle and bustle.

 

PC: What is it like dancing such an iconic ballet (and its duets) as a couple?

Kukhar and Stoianov: We have been dancing as a couple and living together for 15 years, 24 hours a day. On stage, we feel each other and know every gesture, look, and read body language. We get used to our roles so much that we play with each other and experience all the moments as if for the first time. This is that invaluable part of the artist’s profession when you have the opportunity to be transported to different eras, live different lives, and try on different characters.

Elizabeth Anthony

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PC: What do you feel is special about this particular performance of Giselle? (Ex. costumes, backdrops, performers, etc…)
Kukhar and Stoianov: On the stage, our artists will appear in costumes created by the renowned Ukrainian fashion designer Malva Verbitskaya. These costumes were crafted in honor of the 180th anniversary of the ballet masterpiece — fabrics, handcrafted high art embroidery. The scenery is handmade by masters from the National Opera. The old school of artists who passed on their knowledge and skills through generations. And of course, this performance has its own zest from the Grand Kyiv Ballet, since the troupe is a mechanism that consists of many parts. In this case, from artists. And a very important component is the positive family atmosphere in the teams of the Grand Kyiv Ballet. The viewer will definitely feel it.

 

PC: What does being a part of this tour mean to you both personally? 
Kukhar and Stoianov: It’s not just a tour now. This is our cultural front, cultural diplomacy. And this is our duty as Ukrainians…

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