Travel to a country at war IV

Friday 31-03-2023, Odessa.

Day without air raid alarm. Morning rehearsal with the choir on stage. Part of the old choir has fled abroad. Now a lot of new, young singers. Beautiful faces. Professionals who know what they are doing. I meet the chief conductor of the theatre, a Belarus. Warm reunion. The man joins us on tour. Former chief employee of the Bolshoi Theatre in Minsk. No longer welcome in his country. "There's a madman in power there". A firm, emotional embrace and sense of solidarity through an understanding gaze. "The tempi will be adapted to the speed of the ballet's choreography", he assures me.

Step by step, all choir scenes are walked through and cleaned. The intentions briefly touched upon. Advantage of little rehearsal time: this drives you to extreme alertness so that you start well prepared and try to achieve results more efficiently under time pressure every minute. There is a serious, exciting atmosphere in which people listen with concentration. At the end of the rehearsal there is a walk-through of the piece. You can see and hear that everyone knows what they are doing. Beautiful voices. The choirmaster is also satisfied.

Lunch in a Ukrainian buffet on Katerinskaya street. The local dishes show colorful and tasty. I recognize Chicken Kiev, borsh, vareniki, deruni, okroshka, kholodet, blini, salads and beautiful pastries. During the meal, two gypsy girls and mother stumble into the restaurant. They beg. I dig into my pockets and give them a note of grivnas. As a migrant child, I was raised with understanding and respect for the underprivileged and migrants. The hardships of my ancestors are having an effect.

Outside, the streets are shrouded in a mysterious fog. After a short rest in the hotel room, there is a rehearsal in the large ballet studio of the theater. In an hour, two new ballet boys learn a complex one-minute solo choreography. They are musical and suck up the information. From now on, they will have to perform this dance fully every day to develop endurance and precision.

At night, military vehicles drive over children's heads. Then again silent.

Two dance rehearsals tomorrow. For the first time in the opera studio of the theatre. To be continued.