This is the story of a friendship, of the dance that saves. Of the present that matters more than the future. Because sometimes the future can’t even be imagined. But this is also a story closely tied to the last four months: four months of a war where the dense fog persists for many reasons. Dense fog while so many lives were forced to change, to rewrite – there, yes – their future in a very short time. It hurts your life. Here he enters the scene, it is worth saying, Caterina Calvino Prinadirector ofUkrainian Ballet Academy in Milan.
Which I had no doubt about: with a war going on, the priority was to welcome the young students of theKyiv State Academy to allow them to continue studying for free. They did it, they are doing it. They would like to continue to do so: “We will soon try to reactivate the attention on the emergency also thanks to social networks. I had already used my personal Facebook account to gather help and hospitality for these girls. We will also do it again to give air and change to those who have already helped. The war is not going on holiday, it’s good to remember that “.
Ukrainian Ballet Academy, interview with director Caterina Calvino Prina
How has the perception of your activities changed in recent times?
“At first there was a lot of curiosity, even from acquaintances. I certainly perceived more attention to the Ukrainian emergency, although it is normal to see it wane when so many weeks have passed. The word “final” in this war is not yet seen. There is still a lot of uncertainty, in fact Irina (Skrypnik, one of the teachers who came from Ukraine and the first to ask Calvin Prina for help, ed) still doesn’t know what her future may be, but she knows what it will be like difficult to go back without any security conditions. The mother of Vasiliza Nikiforova, one of our students, had to do it and was impressed by the total passion shown by the residents towards the missiles: now there is no more fear. It is the “new” normality.
How did you organize yourself with the reception of the last few months?
«Vasiliza, Violetta Gurko, Vladislava Palashovskaia and Anastasia Bakum were the first girls we welcomed, although the first was the mother of one of our students, the Ukrainian, picked up at the station and immediately taken to a safe place here. Social networks were essential: I received all the time, day and night, messages and calls from those who wanted to accompany us to the Academy.
“Also. Before the summer we will try to reactivate attention to the online emergency. I had already used the Academy’s Facebook page to gather help and hospitality for these girls. We will also do it again to give air and “change to the families who have already helped us a lot. The war is not going on holiday, it’s good to remember that.”
And the institutions?
“In fact, we have not had time to reach all the competent bodies. Our academic life continued, in spite of everything: with four shows at the Teatro degli Arcimboldi, many appointments as guests at the collections organized in a short time, we never stopped. There are those who want to help us in the practices to support, but we would need staff trained in this. We were also busy with the diploma exams – matching it wasn’t easy. That’s why we need help.
How did you fulfill all the commitments?
“I would talk about‘ self-sufficiency ’. A lot has been done thanks to the generosity of some families, thanks to which we have raised funds for indispensable activities: they trivially covered the cost of costumes, among which were jerseys and ballet shoes. The Pellegrini Group, on the other hand, helped to offer all the meals to the girls.
What would you say to potential taxpayers to defend your case?
“These experiences inevitably improve the lives of young people. I also perceived many benefits in our Italian members. During the motivational speech that preceded the show at the Arcimboldi, I told everyone to forget about the anxieties and worries about the costumes or the performance and to close their eyes for a few seconds.
“I told them to imagine not being able to return home the next day, as now usually happens at 23: the shows were the best of the season. It was a fundamental educational push, a lesson in healthy living: we not only do good to them, but also to ourselves.
Ukrainian Ballet Academy in Milan
Via Quadronno 23, Milan
Ukrainian Ballet Academy, four Ukrainian graduates tell the months that changed them forever
“At any moment they heard the planes flying overhead. They were in Kyiv, not far from the airport, and the missiles almost lost their homes. ” and the first four students who – recently turned 18 – had to live with the small graduates of the Ukrainian Ballet Academy in Milan: Vasiliza Nikiforova, Violetta Gurko, Vladislava Palashovskaia, Anastasia Bakum.
“To hide,” continues Calvin Prina, “Irina spent seven days on the subway, until she received a message from me inviting her to return to Italy. A few days later he agreed, but at the station he found a rather complicated situation, between trains not leaving or not opening the doors. Miraculously he managed to get on a train to Ivano-Frankivs’k, a city in the West, and then continue on to Prague, thanks to the help of some colleagues: the world of dance allows you to have contacts everywhere » .
Once in Milan, Irina and Caterina met: “It hasn’t been fifteen years.” Then Calvin Prina is ashamed: “I don’t want to translate, because it seems that she congratulates me alone … They say that they immediately felt welcomed in an extraordinary way, as if they were daughters. Some girls also performed a few days after their arrival at the Dance for Ukraine Gala at the EcoTeatro on March 19. ”
A new life
“Thanks to Sister Miranda Moltedo, the Istituto delle Marcelline organized very useful Italian classes for girls, who are now all adults. Vasiliza and Anastasia arrived here crossing the border with Lvov, Lviv, entrusted to the care of Vasiliza’s mother. They waited until nine in the cold for the bus to travel to Poland, before arriving in Italy by train. The only concern of those waiting moments was that his feet would freeze. It was the end of February, nothing else came to us.
For Violetta and Vladislava the path was a little different: “They made the journey by car, taking longer than necessary also for the many controls reserved for documents and luggage. After a forced stop by the curfew, where they were able to take advantage of the hospitality of a generous family that welcomed them, they arrived at the border via Frankfurt. They then reunited with Irina, but arrived in Italy tested by the stress of a thousand trips. Being with their classmates and their teacher was key to them. Not only did they manage to escape, but they kept the possibility of continuing their studies ”.
“On June 10, they finally obtained the diploma, which is essential to face the first work tours. Today – continues Calvino Prina – they are very worried because they do not know what their future will be, but for now happiness prevails over the goal achieved. After more than seven years of classical and modern training, in Milan they also learned to work with more intensity, having more hours of study in specific disciplines at their disposal.
Now the tour: “In the Netherlands, together with the United Ukrainian Ballet, they will be busy until next January.” And then? “They don’t think about it: they’re focused on one step at a time, even if the hope is to be able to support other audiences in the meantime. Irina also has no questions about the future. He only knows that he will not return to Ukraine.
“No one could wait for it”
“For Irina, there is no Ukrainian who could have expected such a thing. The beginning of the conflict surprised everyone, despite the tensions already present in the area for some time. For 80 years without knowing what war was, whole generations have grown up without imagining it. They have always lived in peace, although in recent times the media have feared this possible horizon. But everyone was far from considering it a concrete possibility. Four months later, it’s a totally different life.