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Dancing despite war

July 9, 2024

In Ukraine, the talented young dancer Danylo is on the verge of a breakthrough. Then, war breaks out. In Mainz, Germany, dance teacher Irina Starostina takes the 16-year-old in. A former ballet dancer in Kyiv, Irina promises to help him succeed at the highest level.


"Danylo's father called me and asked: ‘Can you save us? If he doesn't train, then that's it.‘“ Irina didn’t hesitate: “I didn't think for half a second about whether I would take him." She brought Danylo from Kyiv to Germany and is now doing everything she can to ensure that his years of training were not in vain. He lives with her at the dance school so that he can complete six hours of training a day. But the dangerous escape from Ukraine under fire has left its mark.
Irina herself used to be a dancer in Kyiv. Now, she runs one of the few ballet schools in Mainz that train young dancers at a world-class level. She calls them "my children" and takes them to elite international competitions. Her network, built during her days as a celebrated international dancer, spans the globe. Irina's classical dance training program takes eight years to complete. Only her very best students -- aged ten to 18 -- are allowed to train with her, for up to six hours a day. 
Irina is currently paying particular attention to the young dancers who were destined for an international ballet career in Ukraine and whose dreams are now in danger of being buried under rubble. At the same time, she is working tirelessly to organize aid deliveries for her war-torn native country. But next up is the big international dance competition in Spoleto, Italy. Danylo is expected to win there and show the world that Ukrainian dancing is unstoppable. Will Danylo manage to overcome the trauma of war to realize his dream of a dancing career?

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