It was a cold night in Montreal, January 17th, when the National Ballet of Ukraine from the Taras Shevchenko National Opera House debuted its four-night-long performance here in the city — and it was a night to remember.
As part of the opening celebrations, the Vidlunnya Choir performed in the entrance of the Espace St-Denis before the performance started.
The show ended with a traditional Hopak that included members of the Troyanda Dance Ensemble, Montreal’s Ukrainian dancers, and a rousing standing ovation.
In between, the world-class dancers performed magical excerpts from some of the most popular ballets including Don Quixote, Giselle, Harlequinade and Le Corsaire as well as traditional Ukrainian dances.
It was intoxicating.
In between in between, during the intermission, yours truly and a friend enjoyed shots, which is when I decided to request a photo of the light camel Harper dress and earrings, by Sézane, that I’m wearing for my big night at the ballet, in the city.
Which was also intoxicating.
The National Ballet performed at Espace St-Denis January 17, 18, 19 and 20th as part of its Canadian tour that started January 15th and is ending February 11th.
In total, 20 performances in Quebec City, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver are scheduled as part of the tour that is raising funds for the Olena Zelenska Foundation, via HUMANITE, a global peace collective that’s founded by refugees and war survivors.
The title of the show, Nadyia Ukraine, is about bringing the hope of Ukraine to Montreal, and Canada.
Attendance at the performances supports the arts and artists while sponsorships and donations directly fund non-profit organizations operating in Ukraine. The Olena Zelenska Foundation and HUMANITE work directly with Ukrainian families to provide crisis relief and refugee aid, and to seed long-term projects to rebuild the country once peace prevails.
The main objective of the Olena Zelenska Foundation is to ensure every citizen feels physically and mentally healthy, protected and able to exercise their right to education, work and build a future in Ukraine.
The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, addressed the audience via a pre-recorded video and spoke to the current humanitarian situation on the ground, along with specific projects the funds being raised will support.
Every audience member was given an opportunity to make a contribution, during the intermission, and a ballet slipper signed by the entire troupe on the Canadian tour was available to raise donations.
In total, the National Ballet of Ukraine counts 150 dancers — 23 of whom are part of the Canadian tour — and is considered one of the world’s top-ranked ballet companies.
The National Ballet of Ukraine began extensive international touring, performing across North America, Europe and Asia in 1991, and has danced all over the world.
Before the war, the company staged 16 productions a month at the Taras Shevchenko National Opera House in Kyiv. Today, the number of productions depends on the circumstances of the conflict.