Ballet dancer

A Ukrainian ballet dancer prepares to perform while thinking about the war

TAMPA, Florida – The 23rd Youth America Grand Prix annual dance competition is going on in Tampa at the Straz Center for Performing Arts and there’s a dancer performing in the main event who has a strong connection to Ukraine.

Maievskyi Vsevolod is from Kyiv. It was there that he learned the basics of ballet. “I was born in Ukraine in Kyiv and graduated from Kyiv Ballet School,” he said.

Vsevolod said that until three weeks ago his family was still living in Kyiv.

The 6ft 2in ballet star has found a way to stay graceful on the dance floor while worrying about her home country which is in the middle of a war.

“I have no other choice. Because I want to help my family and I have to,” he said. “It’s difficult too, because in my head it’s still crazy and it’s painful. Because I have many friends from Russia. My grandmother is from Russia, but I was born in Kyiv and I also have many Ukrainian friends.

He also dances for a Russian dance company. It’s a job that was born after attending a top dance school in New York that the Youth America Grand Prix competition helped pay for.

Vsevolod will join other trained professional dancers in a performance at the end of the competition events Tuesday, April 19 at 7 p.m.

He said he hopes his performance will do for the world what ballet has done for him. “I think art helps to be kinder,” he said. “Just dance. Think. Paint. Make art. Because when we do that, we’re like in the moment and focused on the moment and that’s how we grow as humans.

More than 15,000 dancers auditioned for the Youth America Grand Prix, but only 400 made it to Tampa for the final. Scholarships are awarded during the competition, as are internships in some of the best dance schools in the world. Dancers from 30 US cities and ten different countries competed.

Event organizers said Ukraine was supposed to enter dancers in the competition to qualify for the finals last month around the same time the war started. YAGP leaders therefore located these Ukrainian dancers – all displaced – and ensured that they entered a leading dance school.