A DANCER who grew up in worn-torn Ukraine is thrilled to grace the stage in Australia for the first time this winter. Now US-based, Oleksandr Stoianov’s family have twice been displaced by war in his homeland. They fled to the Ukraine capital Kyiv in early 2014 after Russia invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and then from Kyiv in the latest Russian invasion in February 2022. “We all hope this war ends and Ukraine wins and that we can rebuild our country,” he said. “Ukrainians have moved all over the world and thousands of people have died in this war. “In one year and two months of war we have also lost three ballet dancers, one conductor and a musician from the orchestra.” Now living in Seattle, Stoianov continued to work as the principal dancer, artistic director and producer of the Grand Kyiv Ballet. Since the outbreak of war in Ukraine in 2022, the company has remained outside of Ukraine at the request of families. They now dance all around the world including tours throughout Europe, the US, China and South America.
“We are excited to be touring Australia for the first time this year,” Stoianov said. “All artists love to visit Australia; it has such a special spirit and maybe that is because of the good weather!” Renowned for his high jumps and energy, Stoianov trained in classical ballet almost by accident. He had been competing in a ballroom dancing competition aged 11 when he was spotted by a ballet teacher. “The teacher told my father I could be a talented ballet dancer,” he said. “But I didn’t want to train in ballet because I loved ballroom dancing. “My father told me if I went to Kyiv and trained in ballet I would get a really good bicycle, so I agreed to it!” Stoianov said it took about five years to really enjoy his new craft. “By the age of 16, I loved ballet,” Stoianov said. “Now ballet is my life and my business; I can’t imagine my life without ballet in it.” Grand Kyiv Ballet’s upcoming 20-venue Australian tour will end at Albury Entertainment Centre on Friday, June 30. The first act will feature the Ukrainian showpiece, Forest Song, which will be performed in Australia for the first time. This legendary ballet is a magical love story, full of mysticism alongside the conflict between the human world and nature. Fittingly, it tells a tale of love and the fearless and brave Mavka, who longs for peace in her world, just as Ukraine longs for peace in her country today. The Albury show starts at 7.30pm.