Illinois Ukrainians are outraged by the “Anna Karenina” ballet in Chicago

February 15,2023 1405
Illinois Ukrainians are outraged by the “Anna Karenina” ballet in Chicago

On February 15, 2023, the performance of the Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” ballet, choreographed by the Russian Yuri Posokov from the “Joffrey Ballet,” is scheduled to begin in Chicago’s Civic Opera House.

The announcement by The Joffrey Ballet that their 2022/2023 season would include Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, choreographed by Russia’s Yuri Possokov, has given rise to bitter feelings and indignation among Chicago’s Ukrainian community, the Broadway World reported on Monday.

Illinois’ Ukrainians and their supporters voiced their objections to promoting Russian culture while the country continues to invade Ukraine.

“Shame on you. Russia is killing Ukrainian ballet dancers but you think it’s a good idea to promote Russian culture?” one commenter wrote under the Facebook announcement.

“Russia has [the] blood of innocent people on its hands, including dancers. This is a shame to promote their culture at this time,” wrote another.

“Performances such as the Anna Karenina ballet promote the image of russia as a state of great culture and lend legitimacy to Putin, while he continues to send missiles that destroy Ukraine, kills thousands of innocent civilians, destroys theaters, ballet companies, and murders known ballet dancers. Putin has weaponized culture and turned it into a serious weapon. Putin has said that “russia will conquer the world with ballet. Just like oil, culture is also russia’s weapon.” This is a concept that we should not take lightly or ignore,” says Marta Farion, member of the Ukrainian World Congress Board of Directors and vice-president of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America – Illinois Division.

In a statement, the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America – Illinois Division wrote:

“The Ukrainian Congress Committee of America vehemently condemns the immoral use of cultural events to promote the image of russia as a state of great culture, that attempts to legitimize Putin while he conducts the criminal unprovoked war against Ukraine, and the intentional genocide of the Ukrainian people. Millions are witnessing the horrors committed by russia in Ukraine, while culture is used as a tool to influence audiences to the acceptance of Russia as a cultured benign country, while using the beauty of ballet and music.”

“On behalf of all the victims who were killed, and those still suffering, we make this statement to condemn the use of cultural events to promote Russia’s positive image, and its callous acceptance during the Russian continuation of horrific agonies,” the statement also reads.

News outlets have reported that Ukrainian ballet dancers have been killed on the battlefield, including the National Opera of Ukraine’s Oleksandr Shapoval. As of Feb. 8, 42,000 people have died due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 15,000 people have been reported missing and 14 million have been displaced, and 140,000 buildings have been damaged, according to the Broadway World.

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