Former Mariinsky Ballet principal dancer Xander Parish will direct the upcoming dance gala at Festival Napa Valley which features Ukrainian and Russian ballet dancers displaced by the war.
The Reunited in Dance cast, led by Parish, for the July 21st event includes:
- Ekaterina Chebykina (former Mariinsky soloist)
- Ilia Jivoy (choreographer)
- Andrea Laššáková (former soloist of the Mikhailovsky Theatre)
- Adrian Blake Mitchell (former soloist of the Mikhailovsky Theatre)
- Alexis Tutunnique (former Principal of National Opera of Ukraine)
- Joy Womack (formerly of the Bolshoi Ballet and later a principal with the Astrakhan Ballet)
The program for the Dance Gala at Festival Napa Valley has been curated by Parish, honoring the mission of Reunited in Dance. The pieces selected are:
- After the Rain by Christopher Wheeldon
- BA//CH by Ilia Jivoy
- Excerpts from Swan Lake
- Excerpts from Flames of Paris
- Paquita Suite
Charles Letourneau, Festival Napa Valley’s Co-founder and Director of Artistic Planning, adds, “We are grateful for Elizabeth Segerstrom’s leadership and honored to present this important program, creating a moment of beauty and helping artists during these challenging times.”
Xander Parish on Reunited for Dance
“When our worlds were turned upside down after the invasion of Ukraine, many of us who had to leave Russia didn’t know when or if we would dance again, especially the classical Russian repertoire which we love and in which we were trained.
Thanks to the incredible generosity and vision of Elizabeth Segerstrom, Reunited in Dance was born a few months after our initial dispersion with the aim of bringing back together these displaced dancers to give hope, stand in solidarity with our Ukrainian friends and dance together with the sole aim of promoting peace in the small way we can.
I must stress that we are not here to stand against Russia – many of us are Russian with Russian family, and others of us chose to go and live there, assimilating into the incredibly rich culture where ballet is honoured and thrives. Dance is one of the most universal languages in our world and we have the privilege of speaking it with a Russian accent!
I feel very honoured to be the artistic director of this group and am grateful for the trust that’s been placed in me to lead our dancers. We all have our own stories of leaving our lives behind in Russia, often overnight, along with our jobs, apartments, friends and close family members, and although we know that our experiences cannot begin to compare with the horror faced by so many Ukrainians, I felt it extremely important to support the dancers who bravely chose to do the right thing and take a stand not just with words but with their actions, unable to reconcile remaining in a country at war with its closest neighbour.”
“Thankfully, many of our group have since found new jobs around the world, from Holland to Australia; some are still unemployed. I’m so glad to be able to give hope to all our dancers – to remember what it’s like to go out on stage with your friends, in costume and makeup, under the hot lights, striving to execute the classical ballet technique we were drilled in for years. When they go back to training and auditions after our Reunited shows, my hope is they’ll remember why it’s so special.
For the rest of us who have been fortunate enough to find new theatres to work with, we are grateful to be able to come back together, remember and recreate a bit of what we thought we’d lost. Especially when Russian culture is at risk of being cancelled, we want to keep that flame burning because these treasures, from Tchaikovsky to Petipa (himself a Frenchman who chose Russia) belong to the world and deserve to be seen.
We are also grateful to you, our audience for giving us the chance to do what we love, to dance together for you- Reunited in Dance.”
Featured Photo for the Dance Gala at Festival Napa Valley of Andrea Laššáková and Adrian Blake Mitchell in Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain. Photo by Karolina Kuras.
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