Hamburg: Ballet school gives Ukrainian children a new home – Culture

Some Ukrainian children have found a new home at the Hamburg Ballet School. Photo: Christian Charisios / D

Children from 33 countries dance at the Ballet School of world-famous choreographer John Neumer. To express their solidarity, the school accepted young dancers from Ukraine.

HAMBURG – Konstantin Tslikov wears black track pants and a gray training jacket. Below is an orange T-shirt with a white hand making the peace sign.



Peace – this is what the ballet teacher from the Hamburg ballet school, coming from Ukraine, wishes for his companions. For four weeks, Konstantin Tsilikov, whom everyone just calls Kostja, was also coaching some ballet students who had fled to Hamburg with their parents before the war in Ukraine. The ballet school of world-famous choreographer John Neumeier has already accepted a total of ten Ukrainian children aged six to thirteen – additional children are being considered.

“We thought: What can we do to help,” says Gigi Hayat, the educational director and deputy principal of the Ballet School. It soon became clear that the school wanted to accommodate some of the children with dance experience from Ukraine. Financial support is provided by the Society of Friends of the Hamburg Ballet. Contact was also made through personal contacts – some of the Hamburg Ballet dancers came from Ukraine, including the first soloist Alexander Ryabko. “The great thing about ballet is that ballet halls look the same all over the world and the language of ballet — French — is the same all over the world,” says the German-American, who has headed the school since 2013. “The kids felt right at home.”

Make friends at ballet school

Some Ukrainian ballet students live in a boarding school attached to the school. Like Masha, 13 years old, from Kyiv. She stayed in Hamburg alone, her parents and brother fled to Spain. “Only here there is a good ballet school. That is why I really wanted to stay here,” said the 13-year-old, who has been taking ballet lessons for ten years and dreams of dancing in a company one day. Christina, 14, also lives in a boarding school, her mother lives in Hamburg, and her father lives in Kyiv. It’s easier for girls to make their way into the new environment when there are two of them. The 146 students at the ballet school come from 33 countries, so it’s easy to make friends.

Currently, ballet students are rehearsing for the grand performance of the Ballet School “First Steps” on April 30 and June 20 at the Hamburg Opera. All preschool classes rehearse with Konstantin Tslikov for their performance, including the waltz “On the Beautiful Blue Danube” by Johann Strauss. Little Buffalo is there too and proudly displays what he can actually do. “Show me how good you are!” , the teacher motivates his pupils, while pianist Narmin Ilyasova plays waltz music from the bar again. You can see from the happy faces of the little dancers that they forgot about the war for a while.




The Hamburg Ballet also wants to help adult dancers from Ukraine along with Kulturfabrik Kampnagel. The members of the Kyiver Compagnie, many of whom are currently touring Europe and the world, have been invited to work in the Hanseatic city and create a program that grows long-term with the support of the Hamburg band. In Kampnagel, the troupe of seven dancers will receive stage and technical and organizational support for the production “For the Air We Breathe”, which, with the support of the Hamburg State Opera Promotion Foundation, will be shown in Kampnagel on 29-30 April. It is planned to enable guest dancers to work in Hamburg for a longer period with grants.


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