Crisis and strife call on the dance community to unite in prayer. In moments when we all try to make sense of war, our creative expressions are what will fill hearts with hope. Fake news, malicious accusations, disinformation only serve to breed contempt, hatred, and anger. In a time of war, Ballet Philippines remains true to its battle cry: to keep on dancing!
There is the reason why artists from all over continue to create amidst war. It is through their work that they defy struggle, conflict, and despair. Our art speaks volumes about the truth, and resounds even louder than the deafening blare of an airstrike.
When news broke out about the war in Ukraine, our first instinct here at Ballet Philippines was to find out how our brothers and sisters in the conflict-stricken country were doing. Destruction of the opera house in Kharkiv drove our beloved ballet dancers and other Ukrainian performance artists to underground bomb shelters.
Members of the Kyiv City Ballet are currently in Paris, where they have been given temporary residency at the Theatre du Chalet. Through their sorrow and pain, they continue to dance. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo explains, “You can only create when you are free, and we need to hear what they are expressing, so that’s what we are offering them today...They will be here for as long as it takes.”
Other European nations, including Hungary and Poland, have also taken strides to help the ballet dancers in Ukraine. In the same vein, we at Ballet Philippines express our solidarity though prayers and continued creation of dances.
Although devastated by displacement and mass destruction, we seek refuge in knowing that prayer, above all, yields the most power.
In past months, the company has had the pleasure and honor of having Ukrainian masters grace our online classes at ballet.ph. Egor Scepaciov, teacher and artistic director of the Ukrainian Ballet Academy and Lina Sheveleva, who was born in Odessa, and many others who have trained and worked in dance there, along with the rest of Ukraine, are in our thoughts and prayers.
We continue to dance for them!
Some valued members of our company also have loved ones now in Ukraine. They, too, remain in our prayers. Despite the heartbreak, we all continue to create and inspire.
The courage and tenacity of our board, Artistic Director, ballet dancers, guest artists from Ballet Manila and Philippine Ballet Theater, as well as Ukrainian masters dare us to hope and aspire for peace. Their stories, along with those whose accounts have not yet been recorded, remind us that: When we are too weak to stand, we kneel in prayer.