Top Ukrainian Ballet Dancer Oleksandr Shapoval Killed On Battlefield

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One of Ukraine’s top ballet artists has been killed on the battlefield after joining the country’s military to fight against the Russian invasion.

The National Opera of Ukraine announced with “indescribable sadness” the death of Oleksandr Shapoval, a longtime principal dancer for the company who went on to teach dance at the Kyiv State Choreographic College.

Shapoval will be remembered as an “unforgettable artist,” a “brave warrior” and “beautiful, sincere person,” the company said, according to a translation. He was an Honored Artist of Ukraine, an official title awarded for high achievement in the performing arts.

He died Monday under enemy mortar shelling, the statement said. He was 48. According to the Kyiv Independent, he was killed near Maiorske in Donetsk Oblast, a region of eastern Ukraine.

Oleksandr Shapoval

Oleksandra Zlunitsyna via National Opera of Ukraine

Shapoval volunteered to serve in Ukraine’s territorial defense in the early days after Russia’s invasion, according to the National Opera. He volunteered to serve on the frontlines as a private, and learned how to launch grenades. His unit was then transferred to one of the “hottest zones,” where he died, the statement said.

“He will be remembered both by those who had the good fortune to work with him on stage, by those he taught and to those whom he imparted the incomprehensible secrets of creating a ballet image, and by the grateful audience,” the opera company said, per a translation.

Another star of the National Opera of Ukraine, Artem Datsyshyn, was killed by Russian shelling in March. Oksana Shvets, an acclaimed actor and recipient of one of the country’s highest honors for the performing arts, was also killed by shelling during the same week.

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