The Kirov Ballet's Precarious Spin
Questions about the Kirov's direction and management -- and their effect on the company's good name -- have dogged the troupe for months. In August, it suffered a stunning loss: Star ballerina Svetlana Zakharova defected -- not to America, but to Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, which enjoys a deeply rooted rivalry with its St. Petersburg counterpart.
More troubles have arisen as the company prepares for its sold-out fortnight at the Kennedy Center. ("The Nutcracker" opens Tuesday, with performances through next Sunday; "Swan Lake" runs Dec. 30 through Jan. 4.) Artistic and General Director Valery Gergiev, who oversees the Kirov Ballet, Opera and Orchestra, told The Washington Post last week that he is restructuring the leadership of the ballet company. Ballet director Makharbek Vaziev has held his post for the past eight years and has been credited with bringing contemporary Western works to the repertoire. But Gergiev says he faults Vaziev for failing to develop Russian choreographers who would be able to "lead this ensemble to new heights."