Appeal launched to help Ukrainian ballet dancers perform at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe
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It is hoped more than £80,000 will be raised to help meet the costs of bringing the Freedom Ballet group to the festival in August.
The company, whose performances are billed as “intimate and sensual”, have been given a slot at one of the biggest Fringe venues, the Edinburgh International Conference Centre, as part of the Pleasance line-up.
An appeal has also been issued in a bid to secure affordable accommodation for the Ukrainian performers.
The three-week run of their show Boudoir coincides with the 20th anniversary of the group, which has staged more than 5,000 performances in 30 countries.
The Edinburgh International Festival previously announced it would stage a concert by a new “Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra” featuring musicians who have fled Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian members of European orchestras.
The ballet production is being masterminded by theatre director Toby Gough, a previous Scotsman Fringe First winner, who has brought shows from Cuba, India, Brazil and Sri Lanka to the Fringe.
An official announcement on the Fringe production states: “This is a story about the moment when you come to terms with your love, your loss and your life – when you can finally see yourself in the mirror. It is full of intrigue, passion, drama, sex and beauty."
Gough said: “I saw the company in a packed theatre in Kyiv – I just couldn’t get enough of them.
“They’re one of the best ballet companies in Europe, but have never performed in the UK before.
"I’ve wanted to bring them to Edinburgh since I started working with the Pleasance on shows at the EICC, which is one of the few Fringe venues big enough for them.
"But the war in Ukraine was a very good reason to pull out all the stops to bring them to Edinburgh this year.
"The company hasn’t been able to get together since the war started. We’re trying to get 13 dancers who are currently scattered across Ukraine, Poland, Hungary, Romania to meet in Poland to get their visas then fly them to the UK. It’s a herculean challenge.
“The Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky was actually a comedian himself – the company has told me that he spoke very highly of the Edinburgh Festival and of the value of them performing. If he wasn’t otherwise engaged I’m sure he’d want to come to Edinburgh to join them on stage.”
A spokeswoman for Freedom Ballet said: “For many years the group has dreamed of going to the Edinburgh Festival.
“We’ve always wanted to showcase our art and perform on one of the stages of the festival, but this year we have a special spirit.
"This show represents all Ukrainian who want peace and freedom, and an end to this war. It’s important for us to be heard and seen at an international festival.”
Anthony Alderson, artistic director at the Pleasance, said: “The opportunity to put this show came in incredibly late, just within the last month, and there’s been an enormous effort so far to get it on.
"Now we just have to get the performers to Edinburgh. We have to make sure there are no delays in bringing them into the country.”