Dance group holding virtual classes for children in Ukraine

CHICAGO — A Ukrainian dance group is giving lessons virtually from Chicago to children in hiding in Kiev and other cities attacked by Russia.

A U-Care humanitarian aid group approached the dance group to see if they could set up Zoom dance lessons – and the teachers at the Ukrainian Cultural Center didn’t hesitate.

The cultural center’s dance teachers, who have performed traditional Ukrainian dances around the world, are holding virtual classes via Zoom.

“What happened last Thursday is unimaginable. We still think he can do it, but he won’t, right,” said Nastya Lotoska, a dance teacher from Ukraine.

The war is very personal for Lotoska who was born in Ukraine and has family there. She lost an uncle during the first Russian invasion in 2014.

“I’ve lost family members, now my cousins ​​are conscripted. It’s personal. We’re frustrated, we’re angry, we’re upset. We want people to do something. We’re ready to fighting our own fight, but we need help. We are protecting the world, not just Ukraine,” Lotoska said.

Today, however, she tries to protect the innocence of children, many of whom survived the fighting in bomb shelters. Some may stay at home or with friends and relatives.

Children focus on dance teachers and movements.

“We have a duty to do this for them, whatever we can do for them. If it’s about trying to pick them up and teach them baby steps to help them forget that there are bombs flying above them, we’ll do it for them. They are our responsibility,” Lotoska said.

The cultural center is holding five classes on Thursday with children across Ukraine, even in towns where fighting is fierce.