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7 (2014)
Tunnelling Towards Hope


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28 February - 6 March 2014

Ukraine History

A Stronghold of Rulers and Rebels

With the recent death toll jumping to nearly 100 and 1,000 injured, Hrushevskoho Street, one of the strongholds of EuroMaidans three-month-long protests, made headlines around the globe. It was here, on 19 January the countrys stand against government corruption, abuse of power, and the violation of human rights turned from peaceful protest to all-out revolution. Having witnessed much over the years, Hrushevskoho is a street with a history, and not only care of recent days.

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Ukraine Today
Acelebrity using their status and intelligence to influence public views and opinion is rarely seen in modern society, even less so in Ukraine. Here, the majority of celebs use their time, effort, and money to enhance or further their career rather than put their name to something that can do good for others. However, as EuroMaidan intensifies, some are making themselves heard and they fall either side of the EuroMaidan divide.
It used to be that when rebellion and revolution occurred, the intellectual, creative, and spiritual elite would be front and centre.

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Ukrainian Culture

When Walls Can Talk

People have been writing on walls since the dawn of civilisation, we call it graffiti, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Sometimes it is merely the creator wanting to leave his or her mark; sometimes there is an underlying social or political reason. And it is due to the latter that graffiti has exploded across Kyiv in recent months. Anti dictator messages aside, we peel back a few layers of paint to look at graffiti in the city in general.

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Kyiv Culture

Retelling of the Sensation of the Silver Age

First staged in 1912, The Blue God was the epitome of what the Ballet Russe had come to stand for; stage design from acclaimed Russian artists, and avant-garde choreography set to a score from one of the worlds leading composers. A return to these esthetic values will be made in the near future when a new production of The Blue God is staged in the Ukrainian capitals Opera House, a venue which itself was once graced by some of the Ballet Russes immortal compositions.


The Ballet Russe was at its zenith when The Blue God received its first performance in Paris in 1912, one year before the Rite of Spring, and two years after The Firebird and Scheherazade. Founded by Russian opera, theatre, and ballet impresario Sergei Diagilev, the Ballet Russe was an off-shoot of the St. Petersburg art nouveau World of Art group, which championed aesthetic beauty under the slogan of Art for Arts Sake. Almost single handedly the Ballet Russe had transformed ballet from a dying art form considered to be too conservative and passé into the most vibrant art form in Europe thanks to its collaboration with avant-garde choreographers, dancers, composers, costume designers and artists, many of whom were drawn from the World of Art group, and would be responsible for producing some of the most beautiful and revolutionary set designs in the history of theatrical performance. To Western audiences accustomed to the stagnant French school of dance, the colour, folktales and energy of the East was like nothing they had seen before, and consequently openings to Ballet Russe performances became a must-attend event for the belle monde and anybody who had pretensions of being considered a man or woman of the world. The Blue God was no different. Based on a scenario written by Jean Cocteau, a true renaissance man who counted poetry, design, novel and play writing, filmmaking and boxing amongst his pursuits, it was inspired by an ancient Hindu legend. The role of the Blue God was taken by Vaslav Nijinsky, the young Kyiv-born dancer who was already well on the way to becoming one of the most celebrated performers in history. Nijinskys virtuosity, depth, intensity, and unbridled eroticism which bordered on the scandalous at times was perfect for depicting the sensual Hindu god of legend, while his legendary ability to perform what appeared to be gravity-defying leaps added greatly to the supernatural element of the ballet. The sexual aspect of both Nijinskys performance and the subject of the ballet itself were greatly enhanced by the costume design, with the male lead clothed in pretty much the bare minimum. This was something which Nijinsky was himself partial to; a year earlier the dancer had been released from the St. Petersburg Mariinsky Theatre after a member of the royal family complained of him performing without the obligatory trunks; the French were far more tolerant of such things. Set design was provided by the great Lev Bakst, a member of the World of Art, an artist whose innovations in this field continue to be felt to this day. The upcoming performance of The Blue God seeks to celebrate the unabashed sensuality, beauty and the exploration of mystic forces from a bygone era which the Silver Age, and the Ballet Russe in particular, stood for. The costumes in this lavish production are every bit as gorgeous and if anything even more daring than those fashioned for the Diagilev troupe while the staging draws both on the aesthetic values of the early twentieth century avant-garde as well as the best modern technology has to offer. Ilze Liepa (Goddess) and Nikolay Tsiskaridze (The Blue God) star in this truly blockbuster event. To book tickets call 599-0044 or 482-0829.

The Blue God
National Opera House
23-24 November at 19.00
Tel.: 599-0044 or 482-0829


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    Ukraine Truth
    Rights We Didnt Know We Had

    Throughout EuroMaidan much has been made of Ukrainians making a stand for their rights. What exactly those rights are were never clearly defined. Ukraine ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1952. The first article of the Declaration states all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights, they are endowed with reason and conscience, and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. The ousted and overthrown Ukrainian government showed to the world they dont understand the meaning of these words.


    Kyiv Culture

    Pulling Strings
    Located on Hrushevskoho Street the epicentre of EuroMaidan violence, home to battles, blazes and barricades childrens favourite the Academic Puppet Theatre had to shut down in February. Nevertheless, it is getting ready to reopen this March with a renewed repertoire to bring some laughter back to a scene of tragedy. Operating (not manipulating) puppets is a subtle art that can make kids laugh and adults cry. Whats On meets Mykola Petrenko, art director of the Theatre, to learn more about those who pull the strings behind the show.

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