Ballet Stars Come Together for iHeartDance NYC’s Benefit Performance for Ukraine

April 6, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has rocked the ballet world and beyond, spurring hundreds of artists and organizations to do what they can to help those in need, including iHeartDance NYC. On April 9, the New York City–based nonprofit will present a benefit performance with funds supporting the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine. Held at the French Institute Alliance Française Florence Gould Hall, the program will feature volunteer performances by dancers from American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Broadway and more.

Guest speaker Igor Novikov, former advisor to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, will provide opening remarks via video from Kyiv. Included in the 16-dance lineup are world premieres by James Whiteside, ABT corps member Duncan Lyle and Broadway jazz dancer Skye Mattox, as well as excerpts from Justin Peck’s Rodeo and Alexei Ratmansky’s The Seasons, a pas de deux by Gemma Bond and more.

iHeartDance NYC was founded in 2021 by dance activists Kimberly Giannelli and Melissa Gerstein to support artists in need of resources during the pandemic. “When the news broke of what was happening in Ukraine, I was heartbroken,” says Giannelli. “I began to brainstorm with Melissa how iHeartDance NYC might help. We had only used dance to help dancers, but we knew our mission needed to evolve to realize the bigger picture of what the organization can accomplish.” Giannelli adds that an “overwhelming” number of dancers and choreographers responded to their call to participate in the event.

The program features a star-studded cast, including Ukrainian-born artists Christine Shevchenko and Andrii Ishchuk of ABT, as well as ballroom dancers Antonina Skobina and Denys Drozdyuk. Andrea Laššáková and Adrian Blake Mitchell, former members of the Mikhailovsky Ballet who recently resigned from their posts and left Russia, will also perform. Check out the full list of performers here:

  • American Ballet Theatre’s Christine Shevchenko, Andrii Ishchuk, Isabella Boylston, Devon Teuscher, Cory Stearns and Luciana Paris, as well as members of the ABT Studio Company
  • New York City Ballet’s Sara Mearns, Unity Phelan, Tyler Angle, Indiana Woodward, Harrison Ball and Gilbert Bolden III
  • Lauren Lovette, former NYCB principal and newly minted resident choreographer of Paul Taylor Dance Company
  • DNA ballroom dance duet Antonina Skobina and Denys Drozdyuk
  • Former Mikhailovsky first soloist Andrea Laššáková and former Mikhailovsky soloist Adrian Blake Mitchell
  • The Washington Ballet Studio Company member Rench Soriano
  • International guest artist Brooklyn Mack
  • New Jersey Ballet company member Jonatan Lujan
  • Broadway performer and jazz dancer Skye Mattox
  • Artists from Brooklyn-based movement production company GALLIM

All proceeds benefit Friend Fund: A Ukraine Wide Charity Foundation, which provides direct support to Ukrainian soldiers and their families. iHeartDance NYC has also created a portal on its website for those who can’t attend the performance but wish to donate.