Much of the work to find new homes for Ukrainian students has been led by the New York-based Youth American Grand Prix, an organization that runs competitions to help dancers win scholarships. It was scheduled to hold its first event in Ukraine in March. Larissa Saveliev, a co-founder of the organization and a former Bolshoi dancer, said that when the Russian war started, she emailed the 50 or so dancers who had signed up to say, “If you want help, let me know.”
How the Ukraine war is affecting the cultural world
Soon, her cell phone number was being passed around among dancers in the Ukraine, calling her day and night, often students who had arrived at the Polish border, alone, some without passports. Saveliev said that she would simply ask: “Where should I go?” He tapped on her contacts and then sent them all over Europe to schools, including La Scala in Milan and the John Cranko school in Stuttgart.
Some two months after the war, the calls have not stopped, Saveliev said. “In the beginning, it was a humanitarian effort,” Saveliev said. “All we thought was, ‘Let’s find these kids a bed.’ Now we have to think about their education.”
Saveliev said it was difficult to bring students to the United States due to the lengthy visa process, although he was able to place two students, who already had visas, in American schools. “We have at least 50 schools willing to receive Ukrainian dancers; we just can’t bring them here,” he said. “We are trying.” (Britain’s ballet schools have also been unable to accept students due to strict visa rules, Saveliev added.)
Despite the visa situation, at least one American ballet company is trying to help. On May 4, attorneys working for Miami City Ballet submitted a visa application for Yuliia Moskalenko, 28, director of the National Ballet of Ukraine, to join the company.