The Grand Kyiv Ballet readies its Seattle debut

The ballet’s creative director and prima ballerina moved to Seattle during the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Kateryna Kukhar and Oleksandr Stoianov perform a ballet duet on stage in white costumes.

Kateryna and Oleksandr both regularly travel around the world to perform various ballet pieces.

Photo via People’s Artists of Ukraine Kateryna Kukhar and Oleksandr Stoianov

Earlier this year, data showed that 16,000+ Ukrainian refugees arrived in Washington state following the Russian invasion in 2022 — among them were Grand Kyiv Ballet Artistic Director Oleksandr Stoianov and prima ballerina Kateryna Kukhar.

After a bombing near their home while the couple was on tour, the two returned to Kyiv to evacuate their children. The family moved to Bellevue in May 2022 where they found a community of other Ukrainians.

Both dancers still hold top roles within the National Opera of Ukraine along with their touring company, but are now preparing to make their local debut with performances of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” at the Paramount Theatre Wednesday, Dec. 20-Saturday, Dec. 23.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall...

Despite the devastating impacts of war, the company decided to make their local debut with a light-hearted show families could enjoy during the holiday season. Stoianov and Kukhar said they also hope to share a little bit of the dramatics of the Ukrainian style of ballet.

“Americans are very sunny people,” said Khukar. “And of course, we want to touch your heart, bring something to make you smile, and share a little bit of the Ukrainian arts,” said Khukhar.

Their production of the classic tale of “Snow White” is set to music by Polish composer Bogdan Pavlovsky, but closely resembles the Disney version of events.

Stoianov wants audiences to particularly admire the set design — all hand-painted by a family company — the beautiful costumes, and Snow White’s dwarves.

“They’re all dancers around their 20s, but they’re dressed to look like small children,” said Stoianov. “It’s a really funny role.”

Some proceeds from ticket sales will go toward renovation efforts of the Kyiv State Choreographic College, the dancers’ alma mater.

Tickets are on sale for each of the eight scheduled performances. And keep an eye on Stoianov and Kukhar — they’re looking to perform at the Tacoma Dome in their future.

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