Stranded Kyiv City Ballet receive standing ovation after being offered Paris residency

ITV News Nina Nannar reports on the musicians cancelling concerts in Russia to stand in solidarity with Ukraine

The Kyiv City Ballet received an emotional standing ovation after dancing to a full house in Paris, marking the end of a French tour that has left the company stranded after Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The troupe of 30 dancers were offered a residency at the Théâtre du Châtelet in the heart of the French capital on Tuesday evening for their last show.

Many had tears in their eyes as the packed audience jumped to their feet in applause after performing to the backdrop of the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.

The dancers defiantly sang the Ukrainian national anthem while they held their hands on their hearts.

Being given the opportunity to train and dance was, for many of them, a chance to focus on "something other than the conflict in Ukraine," said Ekaterina Kozlova, Kyiv City Ballet's deputy director.

"We are both physically and emotionally exhausted," she said.

"No one has thought of going back because it's too dangerous" - Ekaterina Kozlova

"Everyone in the ballet is worried about their families, loved ones, friends, colleagues at home. It's been very difficult."

"Being able to focus on work is kind of a bright point in our day when we get to focus on the ballet steps and focus on the music and something other than the conflict in Ukraine," she added.

She said one of the dancers will be headed to the Ukrainian border in the coming days to pick up her young daughter who was accompanied out of the country.

Ukrainian dancers of the Kyiv City Ballet company watch a smartphone backstage during a performance at the Theatre de Chatelet Credit: AP

Ms Kozlova said: "She's a young mother and her daughter is being brought from Ukraine. So I'm sure it will be a relief for her and for us all when her daughter is with us on our tour.

"As I know, no one has thought of going back because it's too dangerous."The dance director of the Paris Opera, along with some of her company's best, joined the Kyiv City Ballet for an open class before performing together a medley of ballet classics, with excerpts from Pyotr Ilych Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and The Nutcracker.

The dancers performed a medley of Swan Lake and the Nutcracker Credit: AP

Only a part of the Ukrainian company had been travelling around France performing a shortened version of The Nutcraker for young audiences.

Many of the ballet's dancers stayed behind in Ukraine, waiting to join their colleagues after they reached Paris.

"Most of our artists are stuck in Ukraine," Director Ivan Kozlov told the crowd on Tuesday night.

"They expected to come and join us after the first performance but they couldn't unfortunately."

The dancers received a standing ovation to the backdrop of the Ukrainian flag Credit: AP

General director of the Théâtre du Châtelet, Thomas Lauriot Dit Prevost, said organisers didn't think twice and jumped at the opportunity to offer the Kyiv City Ballet a residency.

"The humanity and the fact of giving what you can give - that's not a question to think about, it's an immediate yes," he said.

The city of Paris and the ballet community have helped find temporary accommodation for the Ukrainian dancers who say they wish to continue dancing in France and elsewhere.

All proceedings will go to NGOs collecting and shipping humanitarian aid to Ukraine and neighbouring countries.

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