York: Stranded Ukraine ballet company welcomed to city

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Two members of Kyiv City Ballet dancingImage source, Kyiv City Ballet
Image caption,
The Kyiv City Ballet company would be put up for free ahead of its only UK performance, York Theatre Royal said

Members of a stranded Ukrainian dance troupe are to put on a one-off show in York after businesses and the arts came together to welcome them to the city.

Dancers from Kyiv City Ballet were in France when Russia invaded Ukraine and have been unable to return home since.

The company will be put up for free ahead of its only UK performance at York Theatre Royal on Tuesday.

Theatre boss Tom Bird said he was "proud to support the extraordinary dancers" during their visit.

Image caption,
Hotels and travel companies worked together to "house, feed and water" the Kyiv City Ballet, theatre boss Tom Bird said.

Mr Bird, the theatre's chief executive, said the Kyiv City Ballet company was in the middle of a tour when war broke out, making it "too unsafe for them to return home to Ukraine".

"The minute we found out what had happened to them, the instinct was that can we give them a home here," he said.

"The whole community, hotels, businesses, travel companies, have worked together to house, feed and water them for free."

Mr Bird said the sold-out performance, which would include excerpts from Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, would raise £25,000 for Unicef's Ukraine Appeal.

Image source, Kyiv City Ballet
Image caption,
York Theatre Royal invited the Kyiv City Ballet to perform in York after it was stranded in France following the invasion of Ukraine

Sarah Loftus, managing director of York tourism body Make It York, said the performance would be a special opportunity to "raise vital funds for the people of Ukraine".

She said: "The generosity of businesses and residents in York has made this possible."

David Carr, Lord Mayor of York, said the ballet company would receive a "very warm welcome" and a full civic reception when it arrived in York later.

It would be one of the "greatest privileges" of his mayoral year to receive them, he said.

"Goodness knows what sort of tribulations they've been through," he added.

Darryl Smalley, City of York Council's executive member for culture, said: "Art has a unique way of uniting people and that's certainly what we need, more now than ever."

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