The Challenge of the Ukrainian National Ballet-Artistic Director Yoshihiro Terada January 25, 16:27

"Ukrainian National Ballet"

is a ballet company that has fascinated people all over the world with its high technique and rich expressiveness.

The biggest crisis in the history of more than 120 years was the military invasion by Russia in February last year.

Despite this, they held their first full-fledged overseas performance in Japan last month after the invasion, presenting a gorgeous stage to their fans.

Yoshihiro Terada (46) is the leader of this ballet company.

He approached his desire to

"continue performances even during wartime ."

(Good Morning Japan Director Yoshihisa Kawakami / International Broadcasting Station World News Department Reporter Akiko Furuyama / Chief Producer Toru Ogawa)

With Yoshihiro Terada

The Ukrainian National Ballet is based in Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine.

Yoshihiro Terada is the artistic director here.

He is in charge of determining the program and casting, acting guidance, etc.

Originally from Kyoto, Terada went alone to a ballet school in Kiew when she was 11 years old.

Graduated with top grades and joined the National Ballet.

She won a tough competition and she became a soloist (a dancer who can dance a solo part).

After retiring, he was also evaluated as a leader and won various awards in Ukraine.

After living in Ukraine for 35 years, he temporarily fled the country last February before the Russian invasion.

He returned to Kyiv in September of last year and was appointed artistic director, saying, "I want you to lead the National Ballet, which is in a difficult wartime situation."

Mr. Terada was interviewed by NHK in Tokyo last month.

The first problem that must be tackled was the division of the members that occurred in the wake of the invasion.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada

“Exactly half of the members remain in Ukraine, and the other half are in Europe. The artists who remained in Ukraine say, 'We are the real artists. And no matter what happens, the people who will protect the art of this country to the end are the real Ukrainians.The Ukrainians who fled to Europe are not so patriotic.” I think the first thing I have to do is put it together."

No matter where you are, your feelings for your homeland should not change.

I believe that I, a foreigner who has lived in Kyiv for many years and is familiar with Ukraine, can play a role in reuniting the members who were divided by the invasion.

Yoshihiro Terada:

"In my case, I'm about 50% Ukrainian and 50% Japanese, so I might be able to combine Ukrainian art into one. I want to do my best from now on so that artists can become one.”

Now is the time to “keep the art alive” in wartime

Various barriers have stood in the way of the war-torn National Ballet.

The theater in Kyiv, where he was based, was closed for four months.

We resumed performances in June last year, but even now, when an air raid alarm sounds, we have to evacuate the audience to the basement.

For this reason, it is not possible to put the audience in the theater full, and it is said that tickets are sold up to 400 people who can evacuate to the basement.

Furthermore, in September last year, a dancer who danced with me lost his life in a battle.

Amidst a series of civilian casualties, the dancers continue their activities while worrying about their friends, families, and even their own lives.

On the other hand, even in such a dangerous situation, it is said that tickets will be sold out if the performance is held.

Mr. Terada believes that is the reason why he continues to dance.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada:

“Ukraine is a country with art. There is the collapse of the Soviet Union, the problem of the Crimean Peninsula, and the war is still going on. We can give people the beauty of the body, the beauty of the heart, and we want to use the power of art to help the Ukrainian people forget about the war even for a short time. In

terms of the role, I think that's what the people want most.Coming

to the theater.During the two-and-a-half-hour performance, I want to forget about the war. For us, we have to give more dreams and hopes to the people who come to see it.In addition, for artists, the time to dance on the stage is It's very precious."

“Tchaikovsky does not dance”

The Ukrainian National Ballet has performed annually in Japan even before the Russian military invasion.

He came to Japan last month (December) saying, "I want to show that the light of art is still alive even in wartime."

Many people rushed to the 13 performances held all over the country.

The program presented at this performance is

based on the novel of the same name, "Don Quixote," and the music is by the Austrian composer Leon Minkus.

Set in Spain, it is known as a play in which the townspeople dance cheerfully and happily.

Until now, we have performed many works by Tchaikovsky, one of Russia's leading composers, such as "Swan Lake," but we have decided not to do so this time.

In the background, it is said that there is consideration for the feelings Ukrainians have toward Russia.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada:

"Mariupol (in the eastern part of Ukraine) is still under heavy attack. In the midst of this, we have been living without food, water, electricity, and nothing for more than half a year. Ukrainian people, food support, water support from Russia, but none of the Ukrainians living there did not receive it. Ukrainians live without support, water and food from Russia.Artists should put up with Tchaikovsky now.I think it's right."

After that, he talked about the thoughts he put into the "Don Quixote" he chose for the program as follows.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada

"It is a very warm work with a lot of humor, and I think it is a work suitable for the people of Ukraine. As you know, the national symbol of Ukraine is the sunflower. Just listening to the sounds and music of "Don Quixote" makes my heart warm.In this difficult and painful time in Ukraine, this heart-warming work "Don Quixote" can be danced in Japan.I think I chose the right repertoire.”

The Japanese audience also took the thoughts of Mr. Terada directly.

A person who saw the performance said,

"It was a performance that really conveyed the feelings of the Ukrainian people.

A person who saw the performance

"I really wanted to see the culture and the arts continue uninterrupted."

Terada says that as he continued to perform in Japan, he noticed something about the dancers.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada

“When I watch the rehearsals and the stage, I feel more energy than ever before in each movement of my hands and feet. He has passionate eyes that can see the future.

At the end of the interview, Mr. Terada talked about his determination to lead the ballet company during the war.

Mr. Yoshihiro Terada

"Ukraine is in a difficult and sad era. I want the Japanese people to know that Ukrainian art is alive and well. And to Ukrainians living abroad. I think it's a great opportunity to prove that Ukrainian art is alive, and I believe that together with the remaining Ukrainian artists, we can create something truly wonderful. Now that I have become the artistic director, I will fight with the members through art until the very end.”

after the interview

The performance of "Don Quixote" held in Tokyo was cheerful and fun, but as Mr. Terada said, I felt a unique energy from the dancers.

Even during the wartime, he continued to train every day and captivated the audience with his highly perfected performance.

The bright smiles of the members during and after the performance left a strong impression on me.

On the other hand, according to Mr. Terada, when the members returned to the hotel, they immediately shut themselves up in their rooms and kept in touch with their families in Ukraine.

Mr. Terada said, "Even so, the members come to the theater and dance wonderfully. I think it's really wonderful every day."

I can't help but think about the worries that each member has, which can't be seen from the gorgeous stage.

After performing all over Japan, Mr. Terada and his colleagues returned to Kyiv this month (January).

In the midst of frequent air defense warnings, we are working on creating new programs in cooperation with choreographers overseas.

We wholeheartedly support the challenge, and we strongly feel that we should continue to do what we can so that the day will come when we can perform without worrying about airstrikes or the safety of loved ones.

Ohayo Nippon Director

Jisho Kawakami Joined

in 2018

After working at the Osaka office, incumbent from August 2022 Covering a

wide range of culture, sports, welfare issues, etc.

Reporter, World News Department, International Broadcasting Station

Akiko Koyama

Joined in 2011

After working at the Hiroshima Bureau, the International Department, and the European General Affairs Bureau (Paris), she has

experience covering cultural events such as ballet in Europe


International Broadcasting Station World News Department Chief Producer

Toru Ogawa Continues coverage of the Ukrainian National


from March 2022