Ukraine's Kyiv Grand Ballet give emotional final performance of their French Swan Lake tour

The Kiev Grand Ballet gives its last performance of Swan Lake in France in La Teste-de-Buch
The Kiev Grand Ballet gives its last performance of Swan Lake in France in La Teste-de-Buch Copyright Phillipe Lopez/AFP
By Theo FarrantAFP
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After two months of touring in France, the Kyiv Grand Ballet put on Swan Lake for the last time, at a time of great tragedy for their home country, Ukraine


After two months of touring France, the dancers of the Kyiv Grand Ballet gave their last performance near Arcachon on Wednesday evening.

Before the performance of Swan Lake at the Cravey Theatre in La Teste-sur-Buch, the twenty young dancers of the troupe were glued to their phones, checking for updates for the ongoing fighting in their country.

"We are not feeling well, we are stressed, anxious. We are really very worried about everything that is happening in Ukraine", relates Vladislav Bondar, 25, who plays the sorcerer Rotbarth, one of the main roles from Tchaikovsky's ballet.

"My relatives are in an area where everything is calm and they are safe. Thank God. From time to time they hear the gunshots, the explosions", continues the dancer.

"On stage, I have to dance properly, keep my concentration and I have to keep smiling even if I don't want to," admits 26-year-old ballerina, Ksenia Dronova.

An emotional last performance

Philippe Lopez/AFP
The Kyiv Grand Ballet troupe was met by a wave of solidarity from the French audiencePhilippe Lopez/AFP

For their last performance at the Crazy Theatre, the full house greeted the troupe's entrance on stage to loud applause.

Families came with drawings and Ukrainian flags, and some were dressed in yellow and blue.

At the end of the show, hand on heart, the troupe sang the Ukrainian national anthem.

Lead ballerina, Kateryna Didenko, who plays the two main roles of Odette, the swan princess and her evil double, sang passionately with a raised fist and tears in her eyes.

Uncertainty for the dancers

Philippe Lopez/AFP
Members of the Kiev Grand Ballet checking their phones to check the news from Ukraine on the day of their last performancePhilippe Lopez/AFP

The dancers say they do not want to return to their country, at the request of their families, and will continue to dance in Europe.

Vladislav Bondar says he may head to Germany to join another troupe, while Ksenia Dronova would like "to have refugee status in Europe even if, for the moment, nothing has been decided".

In Paris, the Opéra Garnier has offered to help them with accommodation or financial aid.

Check out the video above to see the Kyiv Grand Ballet's emotional final performance.

Video editor • Theo Farrant

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