Yuval Cohen (Photo by Alexander Iziliaev)

On, Yuval Cohen’s profile page has a favorite quote and fun fact.

The quote is, “Take your passion and make it happen” from the movie “Flashdance.” And the fun fact is, “Yuval loves to explore new cities and countries.”

At 21, Cohen is doing both.

His passion is dancing, and he’s doing it for the Philadelphia Ballet. The Israeli is also living in Rittenhouse Square and exploring Philadelphia.

As his profile page explains, Cohen “joined Philadelphia Ballet for our 2021-’22 season.” Across two seasons, the Israeli has danced in “Swan Lake,” “Snow White” and “Sleeping Beauty,” among others.

“Through ballet, I am happy that I’m getting to see new countries, new cities, new companies, new schools, new teachers and different types of methods,” Cohen said.

Cohen picked up dancing when was 4. He was watching the Israeli version of “Dancing with the Stars” with his family.

“I told my mom, ‘They’re so amazing,’” he recalled.

Cohen tried ballet, but he had to stop because there weren’t enough students in the class. By age 11 though, he wanted to try again.

He applied and got into the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. He got in even though he hadn’t danced ballet in years.

“There are not many guys in Jerusalem that want to do ballet. It’s a very Orthodox city,” Cohen explained. “They said, ‘OK, sounds perfect.’”

At the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance, Cohen’s mentor became Nadya Timofeyeva, a former ballet dancer in the Soviet Union who had made aliyah.

“She’s the one who showed me what ballet really is,” Cohen said.

Timofeyeva played different types of tracks for Cohen. She taught him tempo music. She showed him “videos of her mom and her dancing in Russia,” he said. The student was in the studio from 10 a.m. to midnight “because she saw the potential,” he added. “She pushed me so I could succeed.”

After six months, the teacher told the student that he could really make it. She offered him the chance to train at her studio, the Jerusalem Ballet School. He took her up on the offer.

Timofeyeva told Cohen that starting around 11 or 12 was “a little late.” So, he made up for lost time with those 14-hour days. And it worked.

In 2018, “Yuval won first place in Russia’s famous ‘The Nutcracker’ competition,” according to He also “accepted a position at The Vaganova Ballet Academy in Saint Petersburg, Russia.” And “during his time there, Yuval danced roles including blue bird variation in ‘Sleeping Beauty’ and the prince in ‘The Nutcracker.’” He graduated in 2021 and “joined the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow” before coming to Philadelphia.

“Ballet is my life. I don’t have anything else in my world,” Cohen said.

Yuval Cohen is from Jerusalem (Photo by Richard Finkelstein)

Cohen described his family as “pretty religious.” They went to Kiddush every Friday and synagogue on the holidays. He also had a bar mitzvah.

And when he got his invitation to The Vaganova Ballet Academy in Saint Petersburg, he was allowed to go on one condition: He had to represent his home country. Israel’s Ministry of Culture gave him a special role in the army “that says I’m representing the country worldwide,” Cohen said.

“It’s an honor to carry the Israeli flag into competitions,” Cohen added.

He started to feel that more deeply after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. That evening, Cohen was premiering a new ballet with his company. He turned on the television and called his parents. No one seemed to know what was happening.

It was a challenge for Cohen to even leave for the theater. Yet once he got there, he wanted to dance.

“This is my chance to fight,” he said.

Cohen’s brother is fighting with the Israeli army in the north, away from Gaza. The dancer says his family is OK. At the same time, he’s trying to organize a fundraising gala for Israel at Congregation Rodeph Shalom.

“I can’t give up,” he said. “This is my fight for my country.”

He doesn’t ever want to give up dancing either.

“My goal is to get as high as I can. To dance on the biggest stage in the world. To dance interesting roles,” he said.

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