A former Bolshoi dancer is helping young dancers flee Ukraine, one ballet school at a time

“When the war started and we lost everything …” Oksana Zhuravlova trails off, searching for the words to continue. She takes a breath and tries again.

“When the war started, it was like life ended,” she says, her voice quavering with emotion. “And when we heard that our daughter Kateryna can go to Germany to study in a really good school, it was like a light at the end of a tunnel. It was the only hope for the future.”

Zhuravlova’s words come in a rush over a WhatsApp call from Stuttgart, Germany, where she sits on a bed in her 14-year-old daughter’s room at the renowned John Cranko School for ballet. Oksana and Kateryna are from Kyiv and recently arrived in Stuttgart after fleeing Ukraine’s capital in the face of ongoing Russian bombardment.

To get there, they spent all night and most of a day waiting in a massive queue of refugees at the Hungarian border before finally being allowed to cross.

Oksana says her head…

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