How do you Dance in a War Zone?

The Idea....

An April 2022 I attended an online conversation discussing the war in Ukraine and the future of its artists. Speaking at the event was Viktor Ruban, a choreographer, dancer, and director based in Kyiv, Ukraine. At the end of the discussion, I posed the question to Viktor 'how do you dance in a war zone?' Before I knew what was happening, Paul Hill and I had decided to visit Ukraine, to see for ourselves how the Ukrainian dance community are using dance as a form of resistance.
In May 2023 Paul and I spent two weeks in Lviv and Kyiv, collaborating with Viktor, a number of dance artists and sound artist Grigory Semenchuk. We were astonished and impressed by the range and depth of responses that we were privileged to witness.


Over the course of our visit it became clear that Ukrainians are dancing in ways that are more surprising than we could ever have imagined. For instance we discovered that dancers in Kyiv are working with the military to train volunteer soldiers in movement and co-ordination skills! Dancers in Lviv are using a range of movement-based practices to treat traumatised soldiers returning from the front line. Others work with children, helping them to cope with the sirens, the bomb shelters, the blackouts. And a dance studio is converted into a warehouse where dancers are raising funds internationally for army boots, ammunition and uniforms!

Perhaps a more recognisable example of how to dance in a war zone are the small groups of performers that we watched rehearse and perform live. Their daily practice, rehearsal schedules, performances and tour dates had, of course, been completely eradicated, leaving them with neither purpose nor livelihood. But they have continued to find ways to present work to live audiences, despite the missing dancers who have left the country or are doing military service, skeleton theatre staffing, and air raids and power cuts that frequently interrupt shows.


Our project is mostly self funded, but earlier this year Paul and I started a fund raiser so that we could pay the Ukrainian performers for their work. Thanks to some wonderful supporters it was a huge success and we raised enough money to pay everyone in Ukraine who participated.

Now that we have completed the work we want to exhibit it widely to show the world what is happening in the dance communities of Ukraine and the astonishing contributions that dancers are making to the war effort.

We are absolutely delighted to have secured a venue for the Premiere during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, at Dance Base at Assembly , and we are currently in discussions about further venues in the UK and Ukraine.

How to help

Anyone who has ever put on an exhibition will appreciate that it's an incredibly expensive thing to do. The main costs are printing and mounting the still images, but there are also digital rental costs (for the video component), transportation and of course promotion. So here we are fundraising again, this time aiming to raise £4000, which would fully cover our Premier exhibition at the Edinburgh Fringe, and also enable us to purchase high quality durable prints suitable to travel and exhibit at many venues in the future.

We totally understand that many people are not in a position to help financially now, but if you do have a few quid to spare, it really would be appreciated.

Thank you for any help that you are able to offer!


All Donations

All donors will receive a HUGE thank you from us on our SM and a digital 'thank you' postcard!

Donations of £25 or more

Donors contributing £25 or more will receive a digital postcard image from the project.

All rewards will be sent out as soon as they are available.

Thank you all so much for helping us to make a difference, we really do appreciate it!