Music and dance as weapons against the war! A very original international project by New York Metropolitan Opera and Polish National Opera

New York Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw organized an international tour which brings together Ukrainian professional musicians all over the world. Also, several dancers from Ukraine have worked in the Polish National Ballet's team for a long time, being all of them casted in the current repertoire

by Ballet Magazine
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Ukraine’s flag hangs at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York before a benefit concert last month. (Ron Blum/AP)

Six months after Russia invaded Ukraine, the polish solidarity remains at a very high level and took various forms, including artistic ways. One of the most impressive initiatives of the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, who organized a tour with the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra, which brings together refugee musicians, Ukrainian members of European orchestras and some of the best professional musicians in Ukraine.

The idea of the project belongs to the Canadian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson, who has Ukrainian roots. The inaugural concert took place at the Grand Theatre in Warsaw on July 28th and the final one on August 20, in Washington DC.

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The indisputable success of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and its tour is mainly due to the enormous commitment of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson

Each concert ended with the Ukrainian national anthem, an original arrangement for string orchestra by well-known Ukrainian composer Yuri Shevchenko. During the Russian bombardment of the city, he sheltered in a basement in Kyiv. After that, he developed tuberculosis and died, on March 23rd, at 69.

The indisputable success of the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra and its tour is mainly due to the enormous commitment of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson and the leaders of the two opera houses who created the ensemble, Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, and Waldemar Dąbrowski, the director of the Polish National Opera. Of course, this wouldn’t take place without the financial support granted by the Polish culture ministry and by the American sponsors. The tour would not have taken place if it had not been for the determination of the 75 musicians who joined the orchestra and arrived to Warsaw for intense rehearsals under Wilson’s baton during a 10-day artistic residency at the Polish National Opera’s Teatr Wielki.

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It wasn’t the only initiative to supporting artists from Ukraine. Like music dance has no boundaries too!

“Several dancers from Ukraine have worked in the Polish National Ballet’s team for a long time. This season, two new dancers, who came to Warsaw after the beginning of the war in Ukraine, were admitted to the company. Of course, they are all casted in the current repertoire; they participate in rehearsals and perform on stage. For example, in the revival of Don Quixote that is going to be staged soon” according to Adam Kozal, from Teatr Wielki, in a declaration for Ballet Magazine.

Even if there are limited places in the Polish National Ballet’s team, Ukrainian dancers get help with trainings and classes to stay in shape until they find an opportunity to dance.

“We are not planning to form a new group of Ukrainian dancers however Krzysztof Pastor, director of the Polish Ballet, made it possible for all interested professionals from Ukraine to train with the company. It is important for the professional career as it helps to keep in shape. Currently 5 to 10 dancers use this option but the number varies – sometimes there are more and other times less. From the beginning of war, as many as 30 Ukrainian dancers attended classes” underlined Adam Kozal.


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