5/5 © Reuters. Ballet dancers acknowledge a standing ovation at ‘Dance for Ukraine’, a charity gala to raise money for those in need in Ukraine, at the London Coliseum, in London, UK, March 19, 2022. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez 2/5

By Edward Baran

(Reuters) – Away from the fighting in Ukraine, Russian and Ukrainian ballet dancers rubbed shoulders in London on Saturday at a charity event that brought together some of the world’s leading dance artists for humanitarian aid in the war-torn Eastern European country.

About twenty dancers, with glittering bodies and graceful movements, received thunderous applause from the full hall of the London Coliseum theater for the gala ‘Dance for Ukraine’.

“We have so many loved ones at home. We couldn’t just sit at home idly by watching the news, we wanted to do something,” Ivan Putrov, who is from Ukraine and co-hosted the event with Romanian Alina Cojocaru, told Reuters.

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, an attack Moscow calls a “special operation” to demilitarize its neighbor.

The UN human rights agency said at least 847 civilians were killed and 1,399 injured in Ukraine on Friday. More than 3.3 million refugees have fled Ukraine through its western border, with about 2 million more displaced in the country.

Some spectators were draped in the Ukrainian flag for the event, and dancers from many countries, including Brazil, Italy and Great Britain, added glamor to the stage, which was lit up in shades of yellow and blue.

Katja Khaniukova from Ukraine and Natalia Osipova from Russia were among the participants. Dancers from the United States, France, Japan and Argentina also attended the event, organizers said they raised at least £140,000 ($184,520.00) for the appeal of Ukraine’s Disasters Emergency Committee.

“So many of the artists have contacted us to participate, so it’s inspiring how overwhelming the support from the people is, but we need more support in Ukraine, more support from different governments around the world,” Putrov said. .

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