Roughly 200 people gathered at Harvard Square’s Sanctuary Theater on Sunday to watch Cambridge for Ukraine, a performance and fundraising event organized by Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre Dance for World Community.
Cambridge Mayor Sumbul Siddiqui addressed the audience, alongside Harvard’s Ukrainian Research Institute publications manager Oleh Kotsyuba, University of Massachusetts professor Darren Kew, and activist Brian Corr. The performances featured numerous types of dancing as well as St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Orthodox Church Choir.
José Mateo’s Ballet Theatre organized the event in partnership with ArtsBoston, Cambridge Arts, Cambridge Community Foundation, Cambridge Community Television, and the Harvard Square Business Association.
Corr — who is involved with the ballet theatre — said the idea for the event came just two weeks ago, during one of the theatre’s community dance programs.
“It just so happened that one of the two main dancers is a native of Ukraine,” he said. “We have come together to support the people of Ukraine – to stand in solidarity, to gather together for peace, to use the arts for healing.”
In her remarks, Siddiqui reflected on Cambridge’s diverse history.
“Cambridge is a very welcoming and global city — it's long been home to immigrants from all over the world, home to a culture of protest and outspokenness,” she said. “It’s one of the many things that make me a proud Cantibridgian.”
The event followed a public art demonstration by local artists Ross Miller and Yolanda He Yang. Miller and Yang wrapped the Charles Sumner statue on Massachusetts Avenue in a tarp in solidarity with Ukrainians who have taken to wrapping statues in their cities to prevent the their destruction.
“This project is an insignificant yet heartfelt effort to transfer an image from Lviv, Ukraine to Cambridge, Massachusetts — a tiny symbolic action,” Miller said in a press release.
Illyana Sawka, a member of the St. Andrews Church Choir, said their participation in the Cambridge for Ukraine performance was an “honor.”
“It was also really important for us that Ukrainian culture be represented because we have a beautiful, beautiful and rich culture, and I think we need to not let the war outshine the voices of our community and what we have to contribute,” she said.
The songs the choir performed, Sawka said, held particular significance.
“Many Ukrainian folk songs are about exile and about conflict,” Sawka said. “Those are songs that unfortunately we learned from our grandparents, and our parents, and, unfortunately, are still relevant today.”
As of Sunday evening, Cambridge for Ukraine had raised roughly $19,000 of their $30,000 goal in donations for humanitarian non-profits supporting Ukraine.
—Staff writer Katherine M. Burstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @kmburstein1.