New ballet created to highlight refugee crisis comes to the London stage (VIDEO)

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A new ballet set amid Europe’s refugee crisis is being performed by Russian star Irina Kolesnikova in London this week. The production highlights the plight of asylum seekers around the world.

Her Name Was Carmen is inspired by Prosper Merimee’s novella and uses music from Bizet’s opera.

The modern take on the classic story recasts Carmen as a refugee seeking shelter in a Balkan camp after her family is murdered and she becomes the target of people smugglers.

There she meets a guard, Jose, and a people smuggler, Garcia, who “fall under her spell,” and a love triangle ensues.

Kolesnikova, 36, who is the prima ballerina in the St. Petersburg Ballet Company, says the production draws on her recent trips to the Macedonian-Serbian border.

“I saw so many children, parentless children, and separated families.

“I was touched by one little girl who put her flower shaped plastic ring on my finger and it was very emotional. We use this story in our ballet,” she said.

The camps at Tabanovce and Presevo that Kolesnikova visited have been labeled “the forgotten camps” by some aid workers. At the height of the refugee crisis last year, 10,000 people would arrive at Tabanovce every day, and up to a million passed through the region.

Kolesnikova, who is well known for performing traditional repertoires, says she and her husband, Konstantin Tachkin, the founder of the St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, wanted to create the new ballet after they saw news of the refugee crisis unfold last year.

“I can tell this story only on stage. Because our arts don’t need to translate.

“I am not a politician; I would just like to help these people. I just can talk about their stories on stage, and it’s everything I can do, unfortunately,” she said.

The production will run until Sunday at the London Coliseum in Covent Garden.

From every ticket sold, £1 will be donated to Oxfam’s Refugee Crisis Appeal.