As civil war devastates their home city The Donetsk Ballet of Ukraine will travel to Philadelphia in December to perform The Nutcracker for local audiences. Their home theater, the Donetsk National Opera and Ballet Theatre, has been a refuge from the violence on and off since the fighting broke out, but the ballet troupe, scattered by the scarcity of audiences and work, has recently returned to their home to give free performances during the day.

Despite this turmoil, 50 local children from the International Ballet Exchange will join 18 professional dancers from the Donetsk Ballet of Ukraine to perform in The Nutcracker on December 20 and 21, 2014, at Plymouth/Whitemarsh High School, and on December 18 at George Washington High School for the Philadelphia school district. The performances are sponsored by International Ballet Exchange.

The Donetsk Ballet of Ukraine has had many troubles over the past 20 years, but their art has always transcended their difficulties. In 1991, the company’s theater underwent renovation and closed for three years, forcing the company to leave the city. Twenty-five dancers embarked on a US tour that brought them to Philadelphia, Maryland, New Jersey, and surrounding areas, led by principal dancer and gold medalist Vadim Pisarev (International Competition, Jackson, Mississippi).

While in the United States, their tour fell apart, as the USSR dissolved, so did their country. Rescued by local ballet enthusiasts, they managed to stay afloat and find performance opportunities in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. Their troubles forced many of the dancers to defect to the United States, finding jobs with US ballet companies such as PA Ballet, Indianapolis Ballet, Houston Ballet, and the now defunct Russian Ballet Theater of Delaware.

Pisarev and his wife, Inna Dorofeyeva, left the United States to perform as principal dancers for the Dusseldorf Ballet in Germany. Four years later, they returned to Donetsk to their newly renovated theater. The international stars Pisarev and Dorofeyeva and a core of young, beautifully trained dancers, resurrected the company. Since that time, the company has traveled to Germany, Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel, Kuwait, China, Japan, Korea, and France, to rave reviews. Their three-month tour of France last year resulted in a record 120 performances of Swan Lake.

Today, a new crisis confronts the company. Their city and country are at war. Businesses have shut down. The population of the city has been reduced from 1 million to 500,000. The theater was forced to shut down due to the gunfire in the city and has only recently reopened. When the theater was closed, many of the dancers left the city to dance in Odessa, Kharkov, and other nearby cities, but they have now returned.

Despite all of this turmoil, the company will be returning to the United States for their annual tour of The Nutcracker. As the train station and airport are destroyed, the company will be traveling by bus to Kiev and fly to the United States from there.

Prices are $18 students/seniors; $28 adults

To purchase tickets,

For more information call: 215-849-7950 or 1-800-849-4919

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