Russian Ballet Theatre, which is bringing ‘Swan Lake’ to San Antonio, changes name to RBTheater in response to invasion of Ukraine

Not long after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched an invasion of Ukraine, the touring dance troupe Russian Ballet Theater shortened its name to RBTheater.

The change will remain in effect for the remainder of the current US tour of its production of “Swan Lake,” which runs through April 9. It includes a stop Thursday at the Majestic Theater in San Antonio.

“It is a symbolic name change to honor the current events and all the pain and suffering that is happening,” said producer Gulya Hartwick, who co-founded the company seven years ago. “I don’t think it’s fair to blame the culture for what the governments do. We’re not associated with any government, with any nations. We are an international, independent ballet company.

“We are proud to be able to show these amazing artists, great professionals, and the production of ‘Swan Lake’ is gorgeous. And all the audiences, they are very happy with what they are seeing.”

The comments on the post announcing the name change on the company’s Facebook page are largely positive, with some people saying they were sorry that the company felt it was necessary. One person wrote that she works at the Greenville Municipal Auditorium in Greenville, Texas, where the company is slated to perform Saturday. She wrote that the theater had received no negative feedback on the performance.

Majestic Theater patrons who have contacted the staff about the performance have mostly asked for more information about the company. Once they learn that it is based in the United States and has an international cast, they seem to be satisfied, said Elise Miles, marketing coordinator for the theater.

About 650 tickets remained as of Tuesday morning in the 2,400-capacity theater.

RBTheater will present “Swan Lake” at the Majestic Theatre. The company, formerly known as Russian Ballet Theatre, features dancers from many countries.

Mikhail Morozov

RBTheater includes dancers from Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Italy, Japan, Poland, Armenia and Slovenia. Several other countries are represented behind the scenes, Hartwick said, including herself: She’s a native of Latvia. Everyone with the ballet keeps close tabs on the war, she said.

“We all follow the news, and everyone is connected to their loved ones in Ukraine,” she said. “Most of them managed to evacuate and now are in Europe, and they’re in touch all the time, although some of the parents refused to leave. That’s been more difficult, because what can you do when your mom says, ‘I’m not going. This is my home. This is where I gave birth to you.”’”

American audiences have been moved by the dancers’ stories, she said, and have expressed support for them.

When: 7:30 pm Thursday

Where: The Majestic Theatre, 224. E. Houston St. |

Details: Tickets $45-$129,

“They read about us, and our story is combined with the personal stories of each of the dancers, and the amount of suffering and pain they’re going through right now,” she said. “They manage to perform their best, putting aside their sadness and the worry for their loved ones. And I’m not only talking about our Ukrainians, I’m talking about other nationalities, too.

“It’s a nightmare, what’s happening now.”

Some artists and performing companies tied to Russia have seen seen performances in the West canceled. For example, Bolshoi Ballet productions slated for Madrid and London this spring and summer have been canceled. And the Metropolitan Opera in New York has announced that it will not work with artists who back Putin.

Hartwick said that the support her company has received from audiences and the support that the dancers from different backgrounds provide for each other illustrates the power of art to unite people.

“It shows how different nations can come together on stage and create something beautiful instead of destroying it,” she said. “We want to scream and stop the war, but we are dancers, so we dance for peace.” | Twitter: @DeborahMartinEN

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