SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Some of the world's most revered ballet dancers in Russia are now fleeing the country as the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages on. Two of those dancers are now in Southern California preparing for a performance.
They achieved the goals they once dreamed of. Adrian Mitchell and Andrea Lassakova were once featured dancers with the prestigious Mikhailovsky Ballet company in Russia.
"As a young kid I wanted to go to Russia, I studied the Russian style before I went there," Mitchell said.
Mitchell is American. Lassakova is from Slovakia.
"I always wanted to dance there and to get that opportunity was a huge honor for me," Lassakova said.
When Russia, a country they had called home for seven years, invaded Ukraine, the couple knew they had to leave.
"It was shocking. It was heartbreaking in every way and I just knew that to stay would have felt somehow like I condoned it," said Mitchell. "Our ballet company where we worked is supposed to be performing a celebration for Vladimir Putin soon. I was actually photographed for the poster for that and it was going to be in part of the Ukraine which has now been annexed."
Tensions in Russia were increasing. Anti-war protestors were taking to the streets outside their apartment in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
"We were thinking what people in Ukraine were going through, it was terrible," Lassakova said.
They needed to move quickly to get out of the country.
"In two days, we packed all our apartment, shipped it, then packed our suitcases, take our dog and we were rushing out," Lassakova said.
The journey was long. They had to drive to a bordering country to get out of Russia and then flew to Southern California.
They are now in Santa Monica rehearsing at the Westside Ballet where Mitchell studied dance for several years.
They're preparing to perform at a fundraiser for the school and they don't plan to return to Russia.
"I hope that Russia will one day be a place where I could go back and feel comfortable going back. That's what I hope for," said Mitchell. "But until it is that place again like it felt for a while, I wouldn't want to go back."