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EDITORIAL | High Expectations for National Ukrainian Ballet Under Artistic Director Nobuhiro Terada

"We have to reunite the National Ukrainian Ballet that has been torn apart by the war," said its new artistic director of the world-renowned company.

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National Ukrainian Ballet Nobuhiro Terada
Rehearsal before the ballet performance of the "Ukrainian National Ballet" on December 16 in Yokohama City (Kyodo)

Kyoto native Nobuhiro Terada has been appointed to the post of artistic director of the National Ukrainian Ballet. Formerly known as the Kyiv Ballet, the company is one of the three elite ballet companies of the former Soviet Union, along with Bolshoi Ballet and Mariinsky Ballet. This is the first time that a Japanese person has been selected as artistic director.

It is an important post with heavy responsibilities in a country that is roiled by the ravages of war. As the artistic head of one of the world's most prestigious ballet companies, we hope to see Terada impress audiences around the world with the power and spirit of art that can never be destroyed by the force of arms.

National Ukrainian Ballet Nobuhiro Terada
Nobuhiro Terada, artistic director of the Ukrainian National Ballet, holds a press conference on December 16 in Yokohama. (Kyodo)

Soviet Scholarship for Student from Japan

In 1987 at the age of 11, Terada went to study at a ballet school in Kyiv. Indeed, he was the first student from Japan to win a scholarship from the former Soviet Union.  

After graduation, Terada joined the Kyiv Ballet and performed with the company for about 20 years. Afterward he served as artistic director of the Kyiv State Ballet School from 2012 until the autumn of 2021. He was subsequently selected for the position of assistant artistic director of the National Ukrainian Ballet. 

Terada was named People's Artist of Ukraine in 2015, in recognition of his many years of artistic achievements. 

National Ukrainian Ballet
Rehearsal before the ballet performance of the "Ukrainian National Ballet" on December 16 in Yokohama City (Kyodo)

Persevering Through War

There have been many hardships since Russia's invasion of the country in February 2022. The National Theater of Ukraine, home of the ballet, was temporarily closed. Undaunted, members continued rehearsing, despite the sounds of air-raid sirens and power outages from time to time.

Terada also teaches at ballet schools across other parts of Europe and beyond. From these positions he has worked to find places to accept dancers and students who fled abroad from Ukraine

Taking on the job of artistic director in the midst of war, Terada commented on his appointment. "We have to reunite the National Ukrainian Ballet that has been torn apart by the war, and develop its artistic level further," he said in an interview with the agency organizing the ballet's performances in Japan. 

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"Although now is a period of pain for us due to the war, I believe we are on a mission that I must never fail."

Performing Again in Ukraine

"I'd like to have the entire performance of a ballet held in Ukraine in March next year (2023)," the 46-year-old artistic director stated. 

However, it is not easy to materialize a full-length ballet in wartime. It requires extravagant stage arrangements, gorgeous costumes, many performers and significant funds to produce a show.

At the same time, the significance of art, which nourishes the soul, is even more profound ー especially in the face of the devastation of war. Well-trained dancers with polished performances will prove the immortality of Ukraine's proud art. 

National Ukrainian Ballet Nobuhiro Terada
Nobuhiro Terada, artistic director of the Ukrainian National Ballet, and chief conductor and music director Mykola Jajoura in a press conference on December 16 in Yokohama. (Kyodo)

Certain to Inspire Ukrainian People

A new ballet is scheduled to be performed in Ukraine next May (2023). According to Terada, famous choreographers from around the world have offered their cooperation. There is no doubt a new ballet would be a great inspiration to the Ukrainian people

Performances by the National Ukrainian Ballet started in Japan on December 17. These are the first performances since Terada took up the post of artistic director. We would like to throw our support behind his arduous efforts.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun

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