For one night, Russia and Ukraine came together with a sole purpose: to reunite artists from both countries to create an intimate, one-of-a-kind evening of dance on the stage of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall.
The result: a spectacular, emotional, and often mesmerizing dance concert that defied description, and politics.
“Reunited in Dance” on Saturday, Nov. 12 brought together dancers with ties to Ukraine and Russia. Many formerly danced with Russia’s preeminent companies, including the Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, Mikhailovsky Ballet, Stanislavsky Theatre, and others, and left Russia following the invasion of Ukraine.
The program, under the artistic direction of British dancer Xander Parish, former principal dancer at the Mariinsky, was made possible by Elizabeth Segerstrom and the Henry T. and Elizabeth Segerstrom Foundation and presented in association with Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
The sold-out performance was simulcast for free on Segerstrom Center’s Julianne and George Argyros Plaza.
In addition to excerpts from beloved classics, including “Swan Lake,” “Don Quixote,” and “Le Corsaire,” “Reunited in Dance” featured the world premiere of “The Ballet Class,” choreographed by Xander Parish to P.I. Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album.
“The Ballet Class” opened the three hour show. It was a clever concept that incorporated most of the “Reunited in Dance” cast, and allowed them to have their solo moments as well as paired and group dances.
What followed were solo and pas de deux excerpts from famous ballets that, while all different, felt right at home within the context of the event. The backdrop visuals changed from dance to dance, setting the perfect tone each time.
Participating dancers, in addition to Xander Parish, included Jacopo Tissi (Italy, formerly with the Bolshoi), Christine Shevchenko (Ukraine, currently with ABT), Andrea Laššáková (Slovak Republic, formerly with the Mikhailovsky), Adrian Blake Mitchell (U.S., formerly with the Mikhailovsky), Boris Zhurilov (Russia, formerly with Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre), Ilya Jivoy (Russia, formerly with the Mariinsky), Lizi Avsajanishvili (Georgia, formerly with the Mariinsky), David Motta Soares (Brazil, formerly with the Bolshoi), Jasmine Sophie Henry (Australia, formerly with the Mariinsky), Vsevolod Maevsky (Ukraine, formerly with the Mariinsky), Katia Raj (U.S., formerly with the Saint Petersburg State Academic Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre), Veronika Selivanova (U.S., formerly with the Mariinsky), Alexis Tutunnique (Ukraine, formerly with National Opera of Ukraine and currently with The United Ukrainian Ballet), Joy Womack (U.S., formerly with Astrakhan Opera and Ballet Theatre), and Laura Fernandez Gromova (Switzerland and Ukraine, formerly with Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre). Pianist Behzod Abduraimov played Tchaikovsky’s Children’s Album for The Ballet Class.
A lavish pre-concerts VIP reception featured champagne and cocktails, tray passed hors d’oeuvres, and a caviar station.
The VIP guests included Elizabeth Segerstrom; “Dancing with the Stars” dancer Gleb Savchenko; Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter; Segerstrom Center Executive Vice President Judy Morr; Chair of Turnaround Arts: California Malissa Feruzzi Shriver; Meaghan Lloyd and Craig Webb of Gehry Partners;, Honorary Chair of LA Opera Marc Stern and Eva Stern; performer Dita Von Teese; Artistic Director of Los Angeles Ballet Melissa Barak; Former New York City Ballet dancer and Dean of dance at The Colburn School Silas Farley; Artistic and Executive Director of The Broad Stage Rob Bailis; author Ian Kelly; documentary film director Mauro Aprile Zanetti; Segerstrom Center Board Chair Jane Fujishige Yada; British artist Alexander Talbot Rice; Former Bolshoi Ballet dancer and the Founder and Artistic Director of Youth America Grand PRIX Larissa Saveliev; and philanthropist Valerie Von Sobel.