Kateryna Kukhar: A Dancer with a Mission
Following her own rise to fame, the star dancer is determined to improve conditions for tomorrow’s young hopefuls.
She’s everyone’s favourite judge on Dancing with the Stars (Tantsi z Zirkamy) and favourite ballerina at the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet; now, recently appointed as Director of the Kyiv Choreographic School, Kateryna Kukhar is on a mission to lead this temple of culture into a brighter future. Her first objective is to renovate the building’s infrastructure, creating a space that can foster and reflect the talent being cultivated there.
Kukhar is herself a graduate of Kyiv Choreographic School, which she attended from 1992 to 1999. While still a pupil of the school, she won numerous competitions including the Prix de Lausanne; she also debuted as principal dancer in The Nutcracker. After graduation, Kukhar chose the theatre in Kyiv as her home: it was here that she ascended to the rank of prima ballerina. Kukhar has partnered with many leading men including Leonid Sarafanov and Joseph Gatti. One of her most successful continuing partnerships – both on and off-stage – is with Oleksandr Stoianov.
From Student – to Star – to Celebrity
One of the company’s most solid technicians, with captivating movement quality, Kukhar’s most radiant feature is her sense of dramatic characterisation; her striking features and eyes clearly express all the theatrical dynamics, from pathos to joy, via sensuality and humour. Watching her dancing, you get the impression of – to borrow a phrase from the ballerina Violette Verdy – “a perfect jewel to be lovingly cradled and uplifted”.
Kukhar’s natural charisma and effervescence onstage have made her an iconic yet accessible figure in pop culture. Highly professional, she strives for progress and edification in everything she does. While enjoying their celebrity status, both Kukhar and Stoianov have hearts chiefly devoted to service, particularly towards children and the underprivileged. They are both actively involved in expanding Ukraine’s ballet scene and supporting novice dancers on the threshold of their careers. With her warm, feminine power, Kukhar is truly the perfect choice to lead the Choreographic School into the future.
Real-life Cinderellas and their Fairy Godmother
The Kyiv Choreographic School has produced some of the most talented ballet artists in the world: in addition to Kukhar and Stoianov, its alumni include Ivan Putrov, Svetlana Zakharova, Leonid Sarafanov, and Sergei Polunin. The list says it all: this is a cultural institution that deserves to prosper. However, resources are tight. While the calibre of the training is consistently high and the studio spaces appear outwardly impressive, the pupils’ private world – the dressing rooms, the corridors, and the dormitories – has fallen into disrepair. Broken windows and crumbling walls are not only dangerous, but can have a psychological impact on the students, giving them a sense of worthlessness and futility. No child should live and work in such conditions, least of all the impressionable and emotionally sensitive pupils who are training to be the ethereal dancers of the future.
The future building should inspire hope, health, and aspiration, aspiring to the standards of the Royal Ballet School.
In addition to upholding the long-standing traditions of the Kyiv Choreographic School, Kukhar also plans to update the curriculum. The new subjects on offer will include modern dance, contemporary ballet, and neo-classical ballet, as well as English and computer science.
Kukhar and Stoianov both hold O-1 visas for artistic work in the USA, allowing them to host exchange programs between ballet students in the USA and in Ukraine. For example, students in the USA can learn uniquely Ukrainian classics such as The Forest Song (Lisova Pisnia) choreographed by Victor Lytvynov, while the Ukrainian students can learn the canon of George Balanchine.
Kukhar’s number one objective as principal is to ensure a bright future for her students, in the best conditions possible. It looks like she is the best person for the job.
How to Help
The process will not be easy, financially or otherwise. To contribute to the renovation of the Kyiv Choreographic School, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or find more information on the site
An account making it possible to donate in euros and dollars is coming soon; all money goes directly to its intended source.