Report by Frazer Maude
York has welcomed Ukraine's Kyiv City Ballet for its first UK performance since Russia's invasion.
The company showcase excerpts from Tchaikovsky classics Swan Lake and The Nutcracker at the York Theatre Royal on the evening of Tuesday, 14 June.
Tickets sold out within three hours, with all proceeds going towards UNICEF's Ukraine appeal. The one-night-only event is expected to raise £25,000 for the relief effort.
The company had found itself stranded during its tour in France when Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of their homeland.
Ballet dancers and crew have been unable to return to Kyiv since the war began.
But despite fears over the safety of their loved ones back home, the stricken troupe decided the show must go on.
"For us it is better to keep working," said director Ivan Kozlov.
"The artists need to prepare their body for performances and this is the way we’re helping out country. This is how we show that our country is resilient and brave and strong."
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, over 4,000 civilians have been killed during Russia's invasion. More than 14 million have fled their homes and entire cities have been devastated by bombings.
"We are keeping in touch with our family and friends," ballerina Maryna Apanasenko told ITV News Tyne Tees. "We are worrying about them but… our work gives us energy to survive."
The city of York has welcomed the performers with open arms, arranging a tour of the city and even scrambling to loan a stage floor from the Northern Ballet.
For organisers, the event is an honour.
"Obviously that part of the world is a hot bed of ballet, so to welcome them artistically alone - never mind the geopolitical significance - is massive for us," said Tom Bird of the York Theatre Royal.
"With everything going on we wanted to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine."
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