Although they are comfortably housed in a hotel in Quebec, 7,000 kilometers from the war, the dancers of the National Ballet of Ukraine have their sleep disturbed every time a notification of a possible Russian attack rings their cell phones.
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“It's even more distressing to receive these notifications in the middle of the night in Canada because we don't know if they are false alarms,” Natalia Matsak, principal ballerina with the troupe, said in an interview with The Journal. “Last night we were awakened twice by indications of attack risk.”
The 23 dancers of the National Ballet of Ukraine landed in the country on Friday for their Canadian tour, which will begin in Quebec and Montreal. They say the shrill sound of cell phone notifications warning of the threat of a strike, similar to Amber Alerts here, is just as disturbing as the alarms and sirens wailing in the streets of Kiev, if not more so.
Natalia Matsak, principal ballerina of the National Ballet of Ukraine. Alexander Caputo
“If the alarm goes off and we are in Ukraine, we can at least assess the situation based on the events around us. [Pour les prochaines semaines]“We only have our application and the media and therefore stay in regular contact with our families,” explains the ballerina.
“We live in stress and fatigue”
Natalia Matsak and her husband Sergii Kryvokon, also a principal dancer in the troupe, sit over coffee in Old Quebec and admit that the quiet of our country makes them aware of how tired they are.
“We live in stress and fatigue, it becomes normal and we don’t notice it if we stay in Ukraine,” says the prima ballerina. “After I got here [au Canada] And after we take the time to relax a little, we realize that fatigue and stress are more powerful than we admit.”
War, beyond the media
For Ukrainian dancers, this 23-date Canadian tour is an opportunity to interest the population in what is happening in their country, beyond what we can see or read in the media.
“When you look at the pictures on TV or read articles, everything can seem unreal,” notes Sergii Kryvokon. “We take the time to get to know the audience [après les spectacles]to exchange ideas with them. It is more interesting and makes the situation real and concrete, which is important,” he emphasizes.