“I have no dreams; I only think about war”

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While the piano plays, they raise their leg and stretch one of their arms out in front. Very far from the rest of the trunk. There will be about 30 dancerson Wednesday morning, at the offices of the Compañía Nacional de Danza, next to the Matadero. They wear tights, ballet flats and lounge shirts. They watch their movements on the mirrored wall, raise their hands and collect them above their heads. Three young women, somewhat more shy, observe everything from one of the corners in the background. It is easy to distinguish them thanks to their black outfit, emblazoned with the CND logo. Called Kateryna Chupina, Anastasiia Kovalevska and Yelyzaveta Semenenko. They come from Ukraine. They arrived in Madrid at the beginning of Marchwelcomed by the Spanish company so that they can continue working on their own, what they did before the war: dance.

None of them is over 25 years old. Some left Ukraine by car, along with other women from their families. They spent days driving on secondary roads and even through the forest, since the highways were destroyed. Makarov, the town of Anastasiia, was among the first to be occupied by Russia. It is close to kyiv and on the same road. She spent a week in a basement, until she managed to get out of there.

Kateryna left the country on a crowded train, where even the elderly could not sit. He managed to reach Poland and then Italy. Until a compatriot, also a dancer and with contacts abroad, began to help the artists of the National Ballet of Ukrainethe formation to which they belong. She could take them to other dance companies in Europe. So they left their families, once safe and in countries away from the war, and arrived in Spain. yelizaveta She is the oldest of the group, the only one who speaks English and who answers the questions in this newspaper.

The dance corps of the CND, in full rehearsal


What was it like to dance again, for the first time, after leaving the war behind?

It happened here, when I arrived in Madrid. He hadn’t done ballet in weeks. In that first rehearsal, I felt terrible. He had been so long without exercise that his legs felt very stiff. It was hard.

A second ago, it was difficult for him to go out dancing. She preferred to watch from the sidelines.

– Because it’s uncomfortable. Everyone is very kind to us. But they are lending us a space that is not ours. We feel sorry to fill that gap, that of other dancers. So, many times, we get left behind.

In front of the dance corps, and between one choreography and another, the tutor recites the name of the steps in French. Behind him, the dancers place their feet on the tips of their toes. Then, the indications rain in fits and starts and in several languages. The okay in English, the above and below in Spanish and other stops in Italian. The three Ukrainian dancers present at the rehearsal will perform together with the CND in the nineteenth-century ballet Giselle. But the company is welcoming, in total, up to seven young people like Yelyzaveta. They are all women. Of the 160 dancers that make up the National Ballet of Ukraine, the boys had to stay there, like the rest of their male compatriots and by order of the Government, to help in the war.

Are you still in contact with your classmates, with the boys?

If every day. Some are living in kyiv, awaiting orders. Others have already had to go to the front.

From here, what comes to you from the war?

I get up and read the news. Very much, all I can. She had never read them this way. Afterwards, I have breakfast and come to rehearsals. Some afternoons, I usually work as a volunteer. They helped us a lot when we arrived in Spain, so now I collaborate bringing clothes to people from Ukraine.

If the music stops, the dancers relax and drop their arms. The tutor repeats, one by one, the positions that they will have to follow. There are those who take the first jump, which sometimes ends with only one foot on the ground. The dancers then hold that last position for a few seconds. In addition to receiving food and clothing, the young women sheltered by the CND live in a borrowed apartment. Courtesy of another dancer. They have arrived in Madrid, gradually, since the beginning of March. Asked about their favorite corner of the city, the artists mention the Retiro Park. When the premiere approaches, in May and on the stage of the Teatro Real, the dancers will be hired and will have their own money.

The dancer Yelyzaveta Semenenko, after rehearsing with the CND.

The dancer Yelyzaveta Semenenko, after rehearsing with the CND.


What shocked you the most when you arrived in Madrid?

That people are happy, that they smile while walking down the street. There is a very beautiful atmosphere in the air. Even so, I want to return to my land as soon as I can.

What was your life like there, before the war?

— He took the car to the theater and rehearsed a lot. She has been dancing since she was six years old, since she knew what ballet was, thanks to television. I asked my mother and entered the school. Until now, in my free time, I saw my family and my friends. I was visiting my sister, on the other side of kyiv. I really like my city, because it reminds me of the people I love.

The dancers begin to turn on themselves. They jump and perform even more pirouettes in the air. Kateryna, Yelyzaveta and Anastasiia, who until now had been in the rear, finally step forward and launch themselves into the air with the rest. Their black shirts make their way through the dance team, until they reach the center of the room. Undertaken the exercise, they cross the platform completely, like other colleagues, waiting for the moment in which to jump again. Joaquín de Luz, their choreographer in the production they are preparing, asks for applause for them. Among the claps, a cheer for Ukraine sneaks in, shouted in a foreign language and from the heart of the track.

Is it very different to dance here and there?

– Nerd. Except for some very small details, perhaps in the way of working, the ballet is the same all over the world.

Do you remember your dreams as a dancer?

— Right now, I don’t have any. Everything is stopped. I only think about my country and what is happening there.

He just threw a cheer for Ukraine. Did he feel like a patriot already before the war?

– Yes Yes. My father was in the orange revolution of 2004. Even then, the Russians tried to rig the elections, against the most pro-sovereignty candidate and closer to Europe. My family is very patriotic, and I have loved my country since I was little. But now, much more, of course.

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