Kyiv Ballet kicks off Japan tour with 22 dancers flown in from across Europe

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Kyiv Ballet dancers perform on the first day of their Japan tour in Maebashi on Friday.

MAEBASHI — Kyiv Ballet’s Japan tour has kicked off in Maebashi with 22 dancers flying in from the many parts of Europe where they have been based after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine forced them from their homes.

This is the first overseas tour for the company since the start of the invasion. Following Friday’s first performance, the troupe is scheduled to tour 16 cities across Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka, through to Aug. 9.

Founded in the 19th century, the prestigious company has many fans in Japan. Of its 120 dancers, 90 are currently living outside Ukraine. The latest tour was realized thanks to the efforts of the troupe’s deputy artistic director, Nobuhiro Terada, and others, by inviting 22 dancers to Japan from various European countries.

At Friday’s show at Maebashi’s Beisia cultural hall, the dancers performed Ukraine’s hopak folk dance and “Himawari” (the Japanese word for sunflower), a piece created for this tour. After the performance, the audience applauded endlessly, and a curtain call followed.

“I’m so happy for them that they were able to be reunited in Japan and dance together despite this extremely difficult situation,” said a 44-year-old ballet teacher working in the city. “I got so much energy from their performance.”