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No easy task in dance performance Benefit Ukraine: Light in Darkness

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Dancers are extraordinary creatures. Take Vlad Detiuchenko and Veronika Rakitina. Fled from Kyiv to The Hague last year, they are now both dancing in the performance of former prima ballerina of the Dutch National Ballet Igone de Jongh. They travel with it from Den Helder to Eindhoven, single-handedly organising the performance on 21 March next. Benefit Ukraine: Light in Darkness.
I sought out the choreographer and dancer at the former Royal Conservatory in The Hague where they reside.

You are a couple: how did you get to know each other?

Veronika: 'Actually because of corona. Vlad wanted to come to the Netherlands to show Europe the level of dancers in Ukraine and the level that contemporary dance has reached in Ukraine, but then corona came. He couldn't go anymore and so happily met me!'

Why exactly are you organising this benefit show?

Vlad: 'In Ukraine, I already had my own dance company and learnt how to organise performances. I know how to touch people with movement. One performance, for example, I made about Marioepol. When the city was destroyed for 60%, the pain went through all of Ukraine. Everyone was in shock and wanted to cry out. I wanted and needed to do something with that. It was an extra challenge because I made the choreography via Zoom from a studio in a bomb shelter, I held online conversations with friends who stayed in occupied territories and tried to convey the impressions to the dancers.'

Veronika adds: 'When I saw the performance Figures in Extinction [1.0] of Crystal Pite, this lifted dance to a new level for me. I realised that dance is more than beauty or a story, but that dancers have a unique language to make the audience feel something. It makes a difference whether you hear a message, or when you see it in dance. That's when I urged Vlad to do something with this.'

Are you using material from previous work in Ukraine for the benefit performance?

Veronika: 'No, this is all new. The theme is Light in Darkness.  It arose because Russia bombed energy infrastructure, leaving areas in darkness: there was no light and no heat. Besides, light symbolises hope and life for Ukrainians, no matter how dark it can be.'

A difficult message too?

Veronika: 'Yes, on the other hand, we are happy to get involved. We are not types who come here and do nothing. As artists, we feel responsible for the situation. With dance, we can change minds. Informing an audience with words or other information can cause people to shut off and say: I don't want to hear anything more about it. Getting our message across is not an easy task, but we feel we should at least try.'

The show Benefit Ukraine: Light in Darkness can be seen at the Korzo theatre in The Hague on Tuesday 21 March 2023 at 20:30. The evening is supported by United Ukrainian Ballet and Cinedans and proceeds from the performance will go to the foundation Sailing Freedom.

Read more information on the benefit performance here 

Ruben Brugman

writing ex-dancerView Author posts

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