Ukrainian ballet director in the Twin Cities puts her pain in the performance – WCCO
CHANHASSEN, Minn. (WCCO) — A Ukrainian ballet teacher has made a name for herself in the Twin Cities over the past two decades. Julia Levina has been the artistic director of the pre-professional ballet company La Danse Fatale, which has been part of the Dance Arts Center studio in Chanhassen, for two decades.
Levina trains, choreographs and mentors young dancers in middle school and high school. Each year, her ballet company holds an annual performance at the Eden Prairie High School Performing Arts Center. Since 2007, Levina has incorporated a crowd-pleasing piece called “Ukrainian”, as a tribute to his home country. This year, this tribute dance takes on a whole new meaning and purpose.
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Levina began dancing ballet at the age of 10, attending a competitive ballet school in the former Soviet Union. There she fell in love with ballet.
“There is structure and discipline. It’s very pure,” Levina said.
After the collapse of the USSR, his hometown became Lviv, Ukraine. She joined a touring ballet company, performing in historic Ukrainian theaters.
“The ballet was huge in all the former republics, and especially in Ukraine, the level of training is very high,” Levina said.
At 26, Levina retired from dancing and began her next adventure in Minnesota with her husband and 5-month-old son. She left all her family in Ukraine who still live there today during this war with Russia.
Levina became emotional as she described the helplessness she feels at not being able to do anything to keep her family safe. Her favorite aunt and her nephews are now stuck in Ukraine, in an area that has already been bombed. Fortunately, everyone she loves is still alive, but the unknown is what worries her the most.
“I sometimes feel like it’s a nightmare and we’re going to wake up, and tomorrow will be like before,” Levina said, fighting back tears.
The Ukraine she wants to rediscover is what she staged with her company, La Danse Fatale.
Unlike all previous performances of “Ukrainian”, these young dancers brought new purpose and energy behind the dance this year for their director, Miss Julia.
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“It’s a great way to end the show,” said Cede Lano, a senior dancer with the company.
“Ukraine needs a bit of light right now, and I think this will give them that light,” said Sophia Boettcher, a second-year dancer with the company.
It’s a very catchy dance, full of bright colors, bold moves and comedy. This is not telling the story of today’s Ukraine, a country in turmoil. Instead, it tells the story of what Ukraine was…and what it will be again.
“I want people to feel happy, I want people to feel connected, I want people to feel compassion for everything that’s happening in Ukraine,” Levina said.
On the stage of the EPHS Performing Arts Center, Ukraine does not suffer. On the contrary, it is celebrated.
“We hit our final pose and we’re going absolutely crazy and it’s the best feeling ever,” said Audrey Edwards, a senior dancer with the company.
As the entire company bowed out at the showcase performance, Levina laid blue and yellow flowers, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, as a final tribute to her home.
When the curtains closed, all the members of La Danse Fatale gathered and Levina addressed her dancers saying, “Nice show. You worked so hard for this. It’s a shame that we have to do this during this difficult time, but you have done your very small part through the heart.
La Danse Fatale is a non-profit organization and they can continue to perform thanks to your donations.
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