Japanese Kyiv Ballet official in Germany continues to support dancers

Nobuhiro Terada

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Kyiv Ballet, which has many fans in Japan, was forced to suspend its activities.

Nobuhiro Terada, assistant artistic director of the company, moved from his home in Kyiv to Germany, from where he has been supporting the ballet dancers.

Terada left Ukraine following a Foreign Ministry evacuation advisory and arrived in Portugal on Feb. 23, the day before the invasion began. He then moved to Munich, where a friend lives, and started teaching at a local ballet school, while engaging in support activities.

Arranges children’s learning

First, he arranged to have Ukrainian children studying ballet to continue learning abroad. Ballet schools in Germany, France and some other countries have accepted more than 100 of them, Terada said. He is now working hard to secure toe shoes for them.

“I think it will be mentally tough for them if they don’t wear them when dancing,” Terada said to The Yomiuri Shimbun via Zoom. “They are quite expensive. Refugee children have a hard time financially, so I’m asking for the shoes to be given.”

He is also negotiating with artistic directors of ballet company in various countries on behalf of colleagues who are taking shelter throughout Europe.

“It’s difficult for them to be employed suddenly by any ballet company even though they have a desire to do so. But if they don’t practice, their physique and skills decline. I’m asking ballet companies to allow them to at least practice.”

The National Opera of Ukraine, home of the Kyiv Ballet

Death of star soloist

Two members of the Kyiv Ballet are taking part in the war. In addition, Artem Datsyshyn, a star soloist of the company, died after being injured in Russian shelling early on during the invasion.

“He was only 43. I’m so sad he lost his life at such a young age,” Terada said. “I’ve not been able to have contact with many friends and students in places such as Kharkiv and Odesa.”

The cell phone Terada brought from Kyiv with him has a function to alert users to air raids, and this alarm “rings at least 15 times a day,” he said.

He responds to incoming calls, but tries to make as few calls as possible to acquaintances who remain in the country.

“It would be rude to ask, ‘Are you OK? Are you doing well?’” he said. “When I can talk to them, if they say, ‘I hope to see you again,’ I won’t be able to sleep at night.”

Japan tour, donations

In a bit of good news, the prestigious Hamburg Ballet company among others have suggested giving charity performances.

In Japan, Koransha Inc., which for many years has invited the Kyiv Ballet to perform, will sponsor gala performances in July and August in various locations in Japan, inviting members of the company to participate.

“I’m very grateful,” Terada said. “The ballet company has a habit of spending some time in summer and winter in Japan.

I hope performing in Japan will ease their sadness and stress.”

Koransha released a video of “Swan Lake” to support the company and in conjunction solicited donations for the National Opera of Ukraine, the Kyiv Ballet’s home. The campaign has raised more than ¥7.8 million.

Terada was born in Kyoto, a sister city of Kyiv. He entered a ballet school in Kyiv when he was 11. Ever since, he has learned, danced and taught ballet there.

“The Ukrainians have warm hearts,” Terada said. “Everyone at the National Opera works with pride. It was a pleasure for me to dance there.”

This feeling has likely driven him to engage in support activities.

“If I had returned to Japan, I wouldn’t have been able to do these activities,” he said. “Maybe it is my destiny. I’m working to make a path for children and dancers to go on to a happy life.”