Hamburg: Ballet school gives Ukrainian children a new home

Ballet school gives Ukrainian children a new home

Some Ukrainian children have found a new home in the Hamburg ballet school. Photo: Christian Charisius/dpa

© dpa-infocom GmbH

Children from 33 nations dance in the ballet school of the world-famous choreographer John Neumeier. To express their solidarity, the school accepted young dancers from Ukraine.

Konstantin Tselikov wears black sweatpants and a gray track jacket. Below is an orange t-shirt with a white hand making the peace sign.

Peace – that’s what the ballet teacher from the ballet school of the Hamburg Ballet, who comes from the Ukraine, also wishes for his protégés. For four weeks, Konstantin Tselikov, whom everyone just calls Kostja, has also been training a number of ballet students who fled to Hamburg with their parents before the war in the Ukraine. The ballet school of the world-famous choreographer John Neumeier has already accepted a total of ten Ukrainian children between the ages of six and thirteen – additional children are being considered.

“We thought about it: What can we do to help,” says Gigi Hyatt, the educational director and deputy director of the ballet school. It quickly became clear that the school wanted to take in some children with dance experience from the Ukraine. The Hamburg Ballet Friends Association provides financial support. The contact also came about through personal connections – some of the dancers of the Hamburg Ballet come from the Ukraine, including the first soloist Alexandre Riabko. “The great thing about ballet is that the ballet halls look the same all over the world and the ballet language – French – is the same all over the world,” says the German-American, who has headed the school since 2013. “The children felt right at home.”

Make friends at ballet school

Some of the Ukrainian ballet students live in the boarding school attached to the school. Like Masha, 13, from Kyiv. She stayed in Hamburg all alone, her parents and her brother fled to Spain. “Only here is there such a good ballet school. That’s why I really wanted to stay here,” says the 13-year-old, who has been taking ballet lessons for ten years and dreams of dancing in a company one day. Khrystyna, 14, also lives in boarding school, her mother lives in Hamburg, her father stayed in Kyiv. It is easier for the girls to find their way in the new environment when there are two of them. The 146 students at the ballet school come from 33 nations, so it’s easier to make friends.

At the moment the ballet students are rehearsing for the big performance of the ballet school “First Steps” on April 30th and June 20th in the Hamburg State Opera. All pre-school classes practice with Konstantin Tselikov for their performance, including the waltz “On the beautiful blue Danube” by Johann Strauss. Little Pavlo is also there and proudly presents what he can already do. “Show me how good you are!” the teacher motivates his protégés, while pianist Narmin Elyasova plays the taped waltz music again. You can see from the happy faces of the little dancers that they have forgotten the war for a while.

The Hamburg Ballet also wants to help adult dancers from the Ukraine together with the Kulturfabrik Kampnagel. Members of the Kyiver Compagnie, many of whom are currently touring Europe and the world, have been invited to work in the Hanseatic city and to create a program that will grow over the longer term with the support of the Hamburg ensemble. At Kampnagel, the ensemble of seven dancers so far will have a stage and technical and organizational support for the production “For The Air That We Breathe”, which, supported by the Foundation for the Promotion of the Hamburg State Opera, will be shown at Kampnagel on April 29th and 30th will. It is planned to enable the guest dancers to work in Hamburg for a longer period of time with grants.


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