Space Coast Village Opens Arms to Ukrainian Ballet Teacher
The concept that “it takes a village” doesn’t stop when the child is raised. The Space Coast should be proud of its “village” for responding to so many of its own. Whether it's supporting people down on luck or talented artists who show promise, our community is willing and ready to help.
Ekaterina and Artem Yachmennikov, who opened We Dance Academies in 2017 after moving to Brevard from Russia, jumped into action and rallied their dance family to contribute humanitarian supplies (enough to fill two trucks) for a relief effort for Ukraine. The goods collection and transport was coordinated by members of the Russian Speaking Space Coast Facebook group.
Then, when 32-year-old Ukrainian professional ballet dancer Julija Kichigina found herself displaced from her war-torn country across the globe, the arms of the Space Coast village opened, welcoming her to build a new life here.
Julija became stranded while on a professional ballet company U.S. tour when her country was invaded. She reached out to the We Dance owners, who immediately summoned their village. The Yachmeninnikovs established a GoFundMe campaign and shared Julija’s story of not being able to return home, of having only one piece of luggage, and being worried sick for her family.
“We couldn’t stay away from Julija’s story, who found herself being a refugee from one day to another,” Ekaterina said.
We Dance gave her a job as its newest ballet teacher. A family with students at the academy is providing housing for Julija and the fundraising goal is to raise enough so Julija can purchase a car, clothing and basic living essentials.
“We had a phone call with her and were literally in tears,” Ekaterina recounted. “We felt that it is not going to be easy to make everything work but that we have an amazing community here and we have to make it work. Julija is an amazing professional so the generations of dancers will be also very blessed to be able to study with her.”
Julija brings the highest level of dance experience. After graduating Kyiv Choreographic College, she started her career at Lviv Opera and Ballet Theatre in 2006 as a soloist and continued with that company until 2013. She was then invited to become a member of Moscow Chamber Theatre of Contemporary Dance, where she performed for a season. Julija went on to perform in “The Phantom of the Opera” and in main roles in Carmen, Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Giselle, La Bayadere and Sleeping Beauty ballets. She toured with professional ballet companies in 10 countries, including the U.S.
“We are very excited to bring such a great teacher and dancer to teach the local students and provide Julija with an opportunity to build her future in a safe place,” Ekaterina said.
— Lee Nessel
Purchasing tickets to We Dance showcases and productions builds a brighter future for dancers and artists on the Space Coast.