Kyiv City Ballet dancers arrive for fundraising show at York Theatre Royal UPDATED 14/6/2022

The Kyiv City Ballet company arrives at York Railway Station on Monday night with York Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird, back, centre, in blue and yellow Ukrainian colours. All pictures: Ant Robling

KYIV City Ballet will give their first British performance since Ukraine came under bombardment from Russia at a sold-out York Theatre Royal tonight (14/6/2022).

Visas rubber-stamped, a combination of Eurostar and LNER delivered the Ukrainian dancers from their temporary base in Paris, with Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird on board the evening train from London.

Led by general director Ivan Koslov and his wife, assistant director Ekaterina Koslova, the exiled troupe made their way immediately to a Civic welcome at York Mansion House before taking a City Cruise on the Ouse.

“It’s a huge honour to be hosting Kyiv City Ballet at York Theatre Royal,” says Bird. “This is the company’s first UK appearance since their city came under attack, and we are proud that York is able to stand in solidarity with Kyiv by supporting these extraordinary dancers for this one-off visit.”

Kyiv City Ballet assistant director Ekaterina Koslova and general director Ivan Koslov at York Mansion House

Bird personally invited Kyiv City Ballet to perform in York after learning of the company being stranded in France, where they had flown to Paris to perform on February 23, only to learn that their country had been invaded by Putin’s forces.

The dancers still went ahead with that night’s performance, and whereas mobile phones usually would be prohibited in the environs of the stage during a show, they were left on in the dressing rooms by the troupe, as relatives rang from home as the performance progressed.

At the invitation of the Mayor’s office, the dancers have been based in Paris ever since that night, one “lost in a fog” before the full enormity of what was unfolding was apparent.

“It’s been very hard to be away from home, but people around here in Paris are helping us a lot,” says Ivan, speaking by Zoom from the French capital.

Cards from well wishers on the York Mansion House railings to greet Kyiv City Ballet on their arrival

“We’re staying in hotel accommodation, everyone under one roof. Our group right now is 38, with the dancers, ourselves and a costume mistress.”

Ivan says “right now” because the number has decreased since that day of arrival in France, after some men in the troupe decided to head home to serve the Ukrainian cause.

The rest have remained in France, where they have been raising awareness and relief funds through performing in Paris and other cities too. “The Mayor of Paris has generously given us a residency at the Theatre de Chatelet since March 6, right in the heart of the city,” says Ekaterina, or Katya, as she introduces herself.

“It means we have a place to continue to rehearse and choreograph works, and it keeps our spirits up as it’s good that we can be together.”

Kyiv City Ballet dancers Ilona Moskalenko, left, and Diana Potapenko at York Mansion House

Ivan adds: “We’re able to go to classes at their theatres as well as having the possibility of doing our own classes. As a ‘cultural exchange’, it’s a very good experience for our dancers; they can see how Parisian dancers train. They’ve invited us to their studios and some choreographers have proposed to choreograph works with us, but it’s too early to be able to do that.”

During their French exile, Kyic City Ballet have performed “almost everywhere”, latterly in Toulouse, Lyon and Saint Marlo.

“In regular times, we’ve always been welcomed by the public very nicely, but now it’s an even better, warmer welcome, with so much applause and everyone staying and continuing to cheer at the end, helping to keep spirits up,” says Ivan. “Sometimes we’ll see Ukrainian flags too.

“It can be difficult to focus on working, but we’re dancers, not fighters; we’re helping in the one way we can.”

The Kyiv City Ballet company on the steps of York Mansion House with Town Crier Ben Fry; York Theatre Royal chief executive Tom Bird; Sheriff of York Mrs Suzie Mercer; Lord Mayor of York Councillor David Carr and Lady Mayoress Mrs Lynda Carr

Now comes the chance to perform in York. “We received a message inviting us to York Theatre Royal, and very quickly we arranged a phone call and were very excited to confirm the show,” says Katya. “Our performance in York is one of the only things we’ve all been talking about.”

Ivan cannot recall if he has ever been to York previously. “You know the dancer’s life: you leave the hotel, rehearse, do the show, come back to the hotel, move on,” he says.

Katya is more definite. “I haven’t been to England, though I’ve wanted to come for as long as I can remember,” she says.

“We’re in discussion to do more shows here, but it’s already been a real logistical challenge to do so much in such a short time. We don’t have dates to announce yet but we have plans to return to the UK and we hope York will be the first of many performances.”

Kyiv City Ballet dancers Nazar Korniichuk and Anastasia Uhlova reading the messages on the York Mansion House railings

Given that the Russian invasion shows no sign of abating, Katya cannot turn her thoughts to the day when she might return home. “I’m rehearsing every day with our dancers, focusing on that, and, for me, the most important thing is what we can bring through our dancing,” she says.

Thoughts turn to tonight, when 100 per cent of ticket sale proceeds will be donated to UNICEF’s Ukraine Appeal from a two-and-a-half-hour special performance split into two parts.

“The first part will be a ballet class, which will be showing the audience how we  normally prepare for a performance,” says Katya. “Ivan and I will be on stage with the dancers, showing how we warm up, why we do certain movements, and we’ll do questions and answers too.

“The second part will be made up of excerpts from our repertoire, both from classical ballets, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, and from pieces that we’ll be performing next season.”

The Kyiv City Ballet company on board the City Cruise on the River Ouse on Monday night

Look out for a premiere tonight: “One of the pieces is being choreographed by one of our dancers, Vladyslav Dobshyinskyi, who will perform a solo from his new work,” says Katya.

Kyiv City Ballet can but pray for the day when they set dancing feet on Kyiv soil once more. In the meantime, here in York, will be another chance to raise money for those in need back home.

The Yorkshire ballet community is playing its part too: Leeds company Northern Ballet are providing the dance floor for tomorrow’s performance, York Dance Space, the ballet bars.

Come Wednesday morning, the Kyiv City Ballet troupe will be heading to Manchester Airport to fly to the southwestern French Basque coast to perform in Biarritz that night.

Kyiv City Ballet at York Theatre Royal, tonight (14/6/2022), 7.30pm. SOLD OUT

More Things To Do in York and beyond, whether locating your ‘inner outlaw’ or just going out. List No. 74, courtesy of The Press

Charles Hutchinson unearths Indian jazz, jive, cabaret, ceramics , 70 years of hits and a candlelit concert for Ukrainian solidarity for your diary.

Re-entry, by Danny Barbour, on show at According To McGee from today

Exhibition launch of the week: Christine Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour, Unearthed, Pyramid Gallery, Stonegate, York, today until April 24.

CHRSTINE Cox, Geoff Cox and Danny Barbour will be at Terry Brett’s gallery today from 11.30am to 2pm to talk about their Unearthed exhibition.

Pyramid Gallery’s spring show combines Christines ceramics, derived from repeated visits to a Cumbrian sea-cliff; Geoff’s ceramic pots and sculpture, rooted in archaeology and long-lost civilisations, and Danny’s paintings and collages that draw on his fascination with what lies beneath the surface.

“Unearthed features the work of three artists whose work is inspired by the passing of time: changes observed in the built environment and found remnants from the past,” says Terry.

Lady Lounges, ceramic, by Geoff Cox, at According To McGee

Diva at the double: Velma Celli: Me And My Divas, York Theatre Royal, tonight, 7.30pm; Velma Celli: Outlaw Live, National Centre for Early Music, York, doors, 7pm; show, 8pm

YORK’S drag diva deluxe, Velma Celli, returns to York Theatre Royal for “an overindulgent diva fest celebrating the songs and behaviour of all your favourite divas” with York singer Jess Steel and West End leading lady Gina Murray.

This cabaret night of impressions and banter celebrates Whitney, Aretha, Bassey, Streisand, Garland, Cilla, Dolly, Madonna, Adele, Sia and latest addition Jessie J.

Next Friday, Velma and York Gin launch Outlaw Live, an outrageous night of cabaret and gin at the NCEM, raising a glass to Guy Fawkes, Dick Turpin and all that’s villainous and defiantly naughty about York and its outlaws. Box office: tickettailor.com/events/yorkgin/590817.

“Explore your inner outlaw”: Velma Celli in Outlaw Live mode

Welcome to the Pleasure dome: King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, Selby Town Hall, tonight, 8pm

AFTER 6,500 performances across 21 countries in more than 30 years on the road, the jump, jive and swing band King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys bring their high octane, good-time show to Selby.

The sartorially sharp British band have performed their dance-hall rhythm & blues opening for BB King, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles and have toured with the Blues Brothers Band from the movie. Box office: 01757 708449 or selbytownhall.co.uk.

King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys: In the swing at Selby Town Hall

Jazz gig of the week: Arun Ghosh and Yaatri, The Crescent, York, Thursday, 7.30pm

IN a showcase of Indian-influenced jazz, York promoter Ouroboros presents award-winning clarinettist Arun Ghosh’s return to The Crescent to perform music from new album Seclused In Light. Ghosh and his band deliver a passionate sound driven by soaring melodies, hypnotic rhythms and transcendental textures as he melds jazz with  jazz myriad of musical influences, from jungle to punk, blues to Bollywood.

Support act Yaatri are an art-rock/jazz crossover five-piece, formed in Leeds in 2018, led by Indian/American guitarist and composer Liam Narain DeTar. Box office: thecrescentyork.seetickets.com.

Arun Ghosh: Showcasing his Seclused In Light album at The Crescent, York. Picture: Emile Holba

Why life is a minestrone: 10cc, The Ultimate Greatest Hits Tour, York Barbican, March 26, 7.30pm

CO-FOUNDER Graham Gouldman leads 10cc on their return to the concert stage after the lockdown lull, as the art-rock icons perform the chart-topping I’m Not In Love, Rubber Bullets and Dreadlock Holiday alongside eight more top ten hits.

Bass and guitar player Gouldman, 75, is joined by lead guitarist Rick Fenn, drummer Paul Burgess, keyboards player Keith Hayman and vocalist Iain Hornal. Box office: yorkbarbican.co.uk.

Graham Gouldman and 10cc: Playing their greatest hits at York Barbican

Candlelit concert of the week: The Ebor Singers, How Do You Keep The Music Playing?, Chapter House, York Minster, March 26, 7.30pm

THE Ebor Singers return to the Chapter House for the first time since March 2020 to celebrate being together again, while pausing to reflect on what society has endured together.

The candlelit programme features Allegri’s Miserere; choral pieces by Whitacre and Esenwalds; an arrangement of Michel Legrand’s jazz classic How Do You Keep The Music Playing? and premieres of two lockdown commissions, Kerensa Briggs’s The Inner Light and Philip Moore’s O Vos Omnes.

In solidarity with the people of Ukraine, the singers perform works by Kyiv composer Valentin Silvestrov, 84, who managed to leave the country safely last week. Tickets: on the door or at tickets.yorkminster.org.

The Ebor Singers: First Chapter House concert at York Minster since March 2020

Nostalgia of the week: 70 Years Of Pop Music, Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, March 27, 7.30pm

THIS year marks the 70th anniversary of the dawn of the British pop charts, when Al Martino claimed the first number one spot with Here In My Heart on November 20 2022.

Don Pears’ singers and musicians take a journey through the decades from Perry Como and Doris Day to Adele and Ed Sheeran in this fundraiser for the JoRo theatre.  

“Somewhere between A for Abba and Z for ZZ Top, whether you are a fan of the Fifties and Sixties or the Nineties and Noughties, there will be music that will delight you,” promises Don. Box office: 01904 501935 or josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk.

Eboracum Baroque: Heading back to the alehouses of 17th century England

Baroque’n’roll: Eboracum Baroque, Purcell And A Pint, York Mansion House, St Helen’s Square, York, May 7, 7.30pm

EBORACUM Baroque are teaming up with York Gin for an evening of rowdy drinking songs, fiddle tunes, alongside music by Purcell and baroque composers “he might have had a pint with”.

“This time our concert is called Purcell And A Pint, sadly not a pint of gin but you still get a free gin on arrival!”, says trumpet player and percussionist Chris Parsons.

“We’ll transport you back to the alehouses of 17th century England. Taverns were raucous surroundings and overflowed with music, alcohol, sex, gossip, fights, fumes, shouting, singing, laughing, dancing. Our performance won’t have all of these – but audience participation is a must.” Box office: eboracumbaroque.co.uk.

Eboracum Baroque go online for A Baroque Christmas concert on Saturday night

Eboracum Baroque musicians and singers, pictured when performing at Stamford Georgian Festival

EBORACUM Baroque present A Baroque Christmas, a festive online concert, at 7pm on Saturday (12/12/2020).

Filmed at Wimpole Church and Wimpole Hall in the York singers and instrumentalists’ second home of Cambridge, the programme comprises arias from Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and Magnificat, a trumpet concerto by Torelli and Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons among other works from across 17th and 18th century Europe.  

“Usually, Eboracum Baroque would give festive performances at both Wimpole Hall and Wimpole Church, but with performance restrictions during the pandemic, this concert was filmed back in October,” says Chris Parsons, who formed the group in 2012 at the University of York and the Royal College of Music, London.

“We hope this concert offers some festive cheer for those missing live music-making in these uncertain times, and we’re delighted to be joined by York Gin, who will provide virtual drinks in our unique interval with a festive flavour.”

Chris adds: “Eboracum Baroque are committed to supporting young freelance musicians through these challenging times. On this occasion, we performed with the kind permission from St Andrew’s Church, Wimpole, and the National Trust.” 

The ensemble of professional young musicians performs music from across the Renaissance and Baroque periods, with a particular specialism in English music from the 17th and 18th century. In York, performances are given regularly at York Mansion House.

Saturday’s online concert will be premiered on youtube.com/eboracumbaroque and facebook.com/eboracumbaroque.