12-year-old ballet dancer killed in Donetsk missile strike, along with grandmother and teacher

10 August 2022, 15:11 | Updated: 10 August 2022, 15:22

A talented 12-year-old ballerina has died in a missile strike minutes after leaving her ballet lesson.
A talented 12-year-old ballerina has died in a missile strike minutes after leaving her ballet lesson. Picture: Alamy

By Siena Linton

The gifted young ballerina was returning to meet her grandmother after a first dance lesson with a new teacher when a missile struck, killing all three.

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A missile strike in Donetsk city centre has killed a 12-year-old ballet dancer, her grandmother, and a celebrated ballet instructor.

Ekaterina Kutubaeva, a gifted young ballerina from the Donbas region of Ukraine, had just completed her first ballet lesson with the most decorated ballet teacher in the Donbas Opera, Galina Volodina. Kutubaeva had pursued individual tuition with the former ballerina. Other members of her ballet class fled Donetsk for Russia at the beginning of the invasion in late February 2022.

According to local journalists, Kutubaeva was expected to begin studying at St Petersburg’s Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy at the end of August, and was taking up one-to-one lessons so as to maintain her form.

This was to be her first and only lesson with Volodina. Ekaterina Kutubaeva’s funeral was reportedly held this week in Donetsk.

Both student and teacher were killed in a missile strike on Pushkin Boulevard in central Donetsk, as Volodina returned Kutubaeva to her grandmother, who also died in the shelling.

Read more: Donbas music school destroyed by Russian shelling in Eastern Ukraine

According to a statement released by the Donbas Opera, Volodina had enjoyed a lifetime’s service with the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. She performed with the theatre from 1970 until her retirement in 1990, when she took up a teaching role.

In the post on their website, the company also states that Volodina had previously survived a shelling in March 2022, when she and other members of the company sheltered in place until it was safe to seek cover elsewhere.

Read more: Ballet dancers from Kyiv National Opera join military to fight for Ukraine

Hours before the March attack, Donbas Opera sparked outrage with an Instagram post, seemingly in support of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The post featured pictures taken from a recent performance of La Bayadere. They showed a choreography change to the dancers’ formation from an ‘S’ to a ‘Z’-shape, and another showed the troupe in a ‘V’ formation. Both letters are symbols of pro-war Russian propaganda.

Russia and Ukraine each blamed the other’s military for the March 2022 strikes.

It is currently unclear whose missiles were responsible for these latest August attacks.