Exiled Ukrainian dancers to unite ballet fans in Ratmansky ‘Giselle’ at Segerstrom


In a glorious summer classical-ballet event, a great patron of the arts, Elizabeth Segerstrom, in honoring the centenary of her late husband, Henry T. Segerstrom (1923-2015), Orange County’s peerless titan of business, philanthropy and the arts, is presenting the United Ukrainian Ballet in its West Coast debut at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The four-performance run dates from June 29 to July 2 — the lead in to our own national day of freedom.

The company of exiled Ukrainian classical-ballet dancers from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odessa, and others, has performed previously in London, Washington D.C. Now they bring to southern California a new production of the quintessential full-evening classical ballet Giselle, in what will be a heartfelt and sure-footed restaging by choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, himself a Ukrainian national. The excellent Pacific Symphony, under conductor Gavriel Heine, will perform Adolphe Adam’s score. 

In a very smart partnership, Giselle is presented in collaboration with actor Liev Schreiber and his non-profit organization, BlueCheck Ukraine. Thanks to the underwriting support of Elizabeth Segerstrom and the Henry T. and Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation, proceeds from ticket sales will benefit BlueCheck which was created to vet, verify, and fund Ukrainian-led local and grassroots frontline organizations providing lifesaving humanitarian aid to victims of the Russian invasion. 

Attendance, it is hoped, will give resonance and at least the glimmer of feeling that we, in faraway California can effectuate a modicum of support to counter the toxic effects Russian aggression has had on the Ukraine nation, conditions that have led to the fars-pread fleeing of the nation’s magisterial dancers among other artists.

In a moving statement, Mr. Ratmansky has proffered personal appreciation to the patron of the event, Elizabeth Segerstrom

“I am deeply grateful to Elizabeth Segerstrom for making these performances of the United Ukrainian Ballet’s Giselle possible. My wife Tatiana and I have felt greatly privileged to be able to work with this group of refugees based in The Hague. Creating Giselle, with its themes of love and betrayal, death and redemption, offered all of us some catharsis.

Alexei Ratmansky

Ms. Segerstrom, who last appeared in artsmeme in connection with a prior mega-event, the scintillating “Reunited in Dance” in November 2022. shared comments as well:

“I am beyond words to express how thrilled I am to work with the genius Alexei Ratmansky on a project which pushes boundaries and makes a difference in the world. This unique collaboration is a chance to demonstrate the transformative power of the arts and its tremendous impact not only on these extraordinary dancers who have been displaced by war.

Elizabeth Segerstrom

Ballet fans, please support this worthy cause. In return? Giselle, with live orchestral accompaniment performed by dancers from a part of the world in which the art form emanated.

photo credit: Altin Kaftira, Mark Senior

United Ukrainian Ballet | Segerstrom Center for the Arts | June 29 – July 2

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