Russian Ballet Orlando fights hate, raises money for Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine is reaching Central Florida.

The director of the Russian Ballet Orlando says ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, their ballet company has been bombarded by hateful phone calls, messages, and threats -- just because they have the word Russian in their name.

"We perform classical fairy tales. Cinderella, Nutcracker, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. These are all fairy tales about the magic of falling in love, the love at first sight, the prince charming," said Katerina Fedotova..

That's gotten tougher for Fedotova since the crisis has unfolded half a world away.

"When they started to get more on the threatening side," Fedotova said, "where they were threatening to burn the building down, that you should be put in jail, you should go back, we're gonna find you... threatening."

The beyond the shock, Fedotova says, was the sad irony that she was born and raised in Kyiv, Ukraine, and still has a home and many friends there. She moved to central Florida with her Russian-born parents in the 90s, where her choreographer father founded the ballet company. "I'm an immigrant like the majority of us," she said, "I have an American dream."

When it comes to ballet, the word "Russian" just means they teach their 300-plus students the Russian "Vaganova" method of ballet. 

"It's the only method developed to be injury-free," she said, "so there are of course amazing, fantastic methods out there, but Vaganova is the pure, classical ballet method."

Fedotova says they're doing all they can to help Ukraine and its people. They've already raised more than $14,000 for Ukraine relief efforts, organizing a fundraiser next Saturday for the country, and donating all the profits from next month's performances. 

"The funds, the percentage of all the proceeds of Romeo & Juliet from every city venue is going to go towards supporting the people of Ukraine," Fedotova said.

The Orlando Russian Ballet is also collecting Ukraine relief donations online. You can find that link here:

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