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‘So Far From Ukraine’: A Princely Dancer Finds a Home in Miami

“Imagine you’ve been rushing through the forest for hours,” the choreographer Alexei Ratmansky called out to Stanislav Olshanskyi as he ran across an airy ballet studio in Miami Beach. Olshanskyi, playing a prince, was searching for the woman he has been duped into betraying. “You are just now realizing the consequences of what you’ve done,” Ratmansky said. “How does it feel?”

Outside, visible through large windows, people passed by, dressed for the beach. Inside, the willowy, delicate-featured Olshanskyi — a prince out of a fairy tale — gathered his thoughts and tried his entrance again, this time conveying the requisite urgency, verging on panic.

It was a week before the opening of Miami City Ballet’s “Swan Lake,” which the company performs in a critically acclaimed production by Ratmansky that draws on historical sources, and is rich in choreographic and dramatic detail. Ratmansky, artist in residence at New York City Ballet, was in town overseeing rehearsals for the ballet, which runs through May 12.

Olshanskyi, who grew up in Kremenets, in western Ukraine and trained in Kyiv, is just one of many artists displaced by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The idea of ending up in Miami, where he joined the company in 2022, would never have crossed his mind had it not been for the war. So much so that when Lourdes Lopez, the director of Miami City Ballet, reached out to him, eager to help a Ukrainian dancer at loose ends, he hesitated. “I was not sure,” he said. “Miami is so far from Ukraine, from Europe.”

Olshanskyi and Dawn Atkins of Miami City Ballet in Alexei Ratmansky’s production of “Swan Lake.”Credit…Alexander Iziliaev

But even so far from home, thoughts of war are never distant. “The war is always present,” Olshanskyi said after rehearsal. “When you’re not thinking about it, suddenly something will remind you.”

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