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Yuri Grigorovich

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From today's Links (thanks to Ari), some history, and an account of what he's doing now.

Yuri Grigorovich will bring his Krasnodar Ballet to St. Petersburg later this summer. Novosti gives a sympathetic account of the choreographer's career.

In 1988, Grigorovich made a risky move and dismissed the afore-mentioned stars, including his beloved wife Natalia Bessmertnova who still gives him unfailing support.

His decision prompted a conspiracy: a group of influential stars declared war on the ballet master and succeeded in securing his dismissal. In response, he eagerly fled to an outlying province, the Kuban region, where he breathed new life into a local troupe.

It was a daring deed for a world-renowned choreographer whose productions had already been called classics. His ill wishers expected a fiasco, but Grigorovich gradually turned this young Kuban company into a fascinating troupe that enjoyed success all over the world. The ageing master's fresh passion brought the Grigorovich phenomenon to the fore again and he started receiving invitations to stage his productions in Moscow. These were probably inspired by a desire to see if he could still produce good work.

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I found that article very strangely written. The writer seemed to take Grigorovich's version of the story of his leaving the Bolshoi without doing any other research or interviews. It leaves a warped sense of history. Does anybody remember the complete story of his ousting from the Bolshoi?

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I had the same feeling, Dale. It's almost a "Yuri Grigorovich, as told to..." story.

I do remember the firing of all those dancers, though, and the uproar it caused (at least, that's how it was reported here at the time). Marc, Mikhail? Any news?

(One couldn't help but note YG's comment that Volochkova was "perfection"....)

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It’s worth remembering that in Russia Grigorovitch still commands a great deal of respect and his ballets are held in far higher regard than elsewhere. The Novosti article is misleading as it suggests a different time scale of events rather as if Grigorovitch decamped to Krasnador after the dismissals in the late 80’s, but in fact he hung on to the directorship of the Bolshoi until about 1994 or 95. Also those dancers had been in the company for a great deal longer than twenty years, in Plisetskaya’s case it must have been close to forty.

A kind a civil war raged at the Bolshoi after the firing of the senior principals with both the dancers and the Moscow ballet public drawing up battle ranks on very partisan lines and even though the events of those days are now brushed under the carpet, many of the incidents of the time made unbelievable reading. For example, Mukhamedov’s assault on a female demonstrator and the onstage sacking of Gediminas Taranda: both well documented.

This astonishing state of affairs dragged on for years with demonstrations against Grigorovitch becoming a regular feature of the Moscow ballet scene. During the 1993 season in London attacks on him even made their way into the British press with the most extraordinary (anonymous) accusations by his dancers claiming that he was guilty of sexual impropriety with his dancers. In one article I have kept he is accused of having seduced the entire company, male and female – an astonishing feat for a sexagenarian who resembled a small elderly hedgehog!

For an outsider it was almost impossible to decide if Grigorovitch was actually a victim or a villain as the argument of both his supporters and his detractors sounded valid when sticking to purely dance matters. On the one hand he had guided the company for decades during a period when meddling by politicians in artistic matters was rife, but on the other hand he seemed a spent force artistically and hadn’t created any new works for years. There were both pros and cons and in the end I suppose the cons outweighed the pros and he was thrown out.

Grigorovitch is still highly active and staged his Ivan the Terrible in Paris at the end of last year. I saw his Krasnodar company in the UK and they were very good, not the Bolshoi of course, but not bad for a provincial troupe. Their leading dancer at the time was the excellent Kniazkova, how they’ll get on with the now infamous Volochkova, I don’t know but having seen her dance just a few months ago I have to say that ‘perfection’ isn’t how I would describe her.

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Thanks Mashinka for that great post! Mukhamedov & Taranda were off the chart excellent. Artistic and personal differences aside, if YG fired GT publicly by announcing it from the Bolshoi stage that's uncouth and outrageous. Its an insult to the audience and a humiliating insult to the artist. Also, IM's thankless fade out by the Royal Ballet a few years ago was insulting too. Do you know if Semenyaka was 'dismissed' by YG or did she retire normally when her time came?

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Semenyaka was one of the first dancers to take advantage of the changes brought about by the policies of glasnost and perestroika and started making guest appearances abroad at around the same time as others such as Ananiashvili and A. Liepa. To be honest I don’t actually know whether she was pro or anti Grigorovitch but she certainly danced with the Bolshoi during the London season of 1989. If she was anti, she must have been quiet about it. Now retired, she is still with the Bolshoi as a teacher and currently coaches Svetlana Zakharova.

“Also, IM's thankless fade out by the Royal Ballet a few years ago was insulting too.”

Not sure what you mean by that as Mukhamedov was still dancing with the Royal Ballet earlier this year. I imagine that you have read some of the articles in the media about I.M. in which he complained constantly that the RB didn’t give him enough work. Personally I never considered him to be much of an asset to the company as he was stylistically too far removed from the other dancers to look anything other than an exotic guest. In a recent documentary about I.M. there was a very telling comment by the former RB principal Bruce Sansom where he demonstrated that one of the simplest of steps seemed to be beyond Mukhamedov. Another problem was his weight, which made him unsuitable for a number of roles; in fact at one point the Balanchine Foundation had to step in to prevent him dancing Apollo. That the Royal Ballet decided to scale down his performances came as a relief to many.

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Not sure what you mean by that as Mukhamedov was still dancing with the Royal Ballet earlier this year.  I imagine that you have read some of the articles in the media about I.M. in which he complained constantly that the RB didn’t give him enough work. Another problem was his weight, which made him unsuitable for a number of roles; in fact at one point the Balanchine Foundation had to step in to prevent him dancing Apollo.  That the Royal Ballet decided to scale down his performances came as a relief to many.

I'm sorry Mashinka, I wasn't clear. I was referring to the late 90s, and the end of Dowell's tenure as AD, not the recent season. My guess is that additional reasons for IM being let go from RB, at that time - besides age, weight and tech. decline, would be the departure of Durante. I have read some of those articles, which goes to show you that there's always two sides to every story. Thank you for the info on Semenyaka! I also hope that Taranda is doing well, wherever he landed.

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I also hope that Taranda is doing well, wherever he landed.

According to info I found doing a Google search, Taranda is the Artistic Director of the Imperial Russian Ballet, which performs in a yearly ballet festival in Finland:

Ballet Mikkeli is an international ballet festival held annually in Mikkeli in early October. Its nucleus is the Imperial Russian Ballet from Moscow under its Artistic Director, the charismatic dancer Gediminas Taranda. The Honorary Spokesperson of the company is ballerina Maya Plisetskaya.

http://www.balletmikkeli.com/eng/index2.php

The link is from the Ballet Mikkeli website, which has this year's festival dates listed as 1-10 October, 2004. The most up-to-date news links on the site date from January, 2004.

The next link is to the brief bio page on Taranda, also from the festival site:

http://www.balletmikkeli.com/eng/taranda_eng.php

At this site, which doesn't seem to have been updated in this century, there is a wonderful photo of Plisetskaya and the company, as well as some great shots of Taranda. Don't miss the one of him and Irina Tagayeva in Bolero, a couple of screens down from the top: http://www.aha.ru/~vladmo/imperial.html

Here's an article and review of the Imperial Russian Ballet from the St. Petersburg Times in 2002. It leads with:

The Imperial Russian Ballet was created eight years ago by Gediminas Taranda especially to participate in jubilee celebrations honoring Maya Plisetskaya.

http://www.sptimesrussia.com/archive/times...ures/a_5847.htm

Following is a link from a New Zealand site, discussing the Imperial Russian Ballets upcoming three-week tour in September: http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/CU0408/S00173.htm

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Grigorovich is scheduled to serve as jury chair for the June 2005 Moscow Int'l Ballet Competition, to be held at the Bolshoi Theater. He has served in similar capacity many times. Indeed, he remains highly respected in Russia.

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Grigorovich is scheduled to serve as jury chair for the June 2005 Moscow Int'l Ballet Competition, to be held at the Bolshoi Theater. He has served in similar capacity many times.

.....and he was a judge at this year's Varna competition, as well, held in July.

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hi

in 2000.after the shameful dismissal of the extraordinary Vladimir Vassiliev, the dictator Grigorovich had again great power on the Bolshoi. he staged again some of his ballet,including his original version of Swan Lake with the "great" Volochkova.

well,you can see my opinions very clearly :D

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In a recent documentary about I.M. there was a very telling comment by the former RB principal Bruce Sansom where he demonstrated that one of the simplest of steps seemed to be beyond Mukhamedov. 

Usually documentaries about active and non-active artists do not present their failings and shortcomings. This sounds like a very strange tribute.

What did Bruce Sansom say and incidentally what was the step?

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Just from videos, I find Grigorivich's legacy very disappointing. For one, his seeming insistence on filming Natalia Bessmertnova in every role (Juliet TWICE, Giselle TWICE, Swan Lake, Spartacus) meant that an entire generation of Bolshoi artists were virtually not filmed at all (especially Maximova). Plisetskaya made several films, mostly because as the Prima Ballerina Assoluta I guess even Grigorovich couldnt sideline here.

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Just from videos, I find Grigorivich's legacy very disappointing. For one, his seeming insistence on filming Natalia Bessmertnova in every role (Juliet TWICE, Giselle TWICE, Swan Lake, Spartacus) meant that an entire generation of Bolshoi artists were virtually not filmed at all (especially Maximova). Plisetskaya made several films, mostly because as the Prima Ballerina Assoluta I guess even Grigorovich couldnt sideline here.

I agree Canbelto. His wife definitely had the monopoly on Bolshoi videos. IMO,

NB as Raymonda was a huge miscast, culminating in the denoument of her Act 3 solo. Natalya, the pianist, and the conductor all disagreed on the tempi. The result was :P .

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Also, I found the bulk of Grigorivich choreography very "crude." Especially the Nutcracker -- overemphasis on male muscularity, but things like the Mouse/Soldier scene went for naught. Just soldiers and mice marching around. Everything very busy, all the time, but with IMO little regard for classical corps formation, or aesthetic value.

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I thought he was crude, too, till I saw his "Raymonda," which contains much that is exquisite and delighted me beyond measure.

And Bessmertnova was a fabulous creature, as fantastic in her way as Suzanne Farrell (who also got the bulk of the film roles). NOt that I wouldn't welcome more Maximova...

Marc, what have you got to say on all this?

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Grigorovich turns 85. Happy birthday! But are these "his best ballets"?

A celebration in his honour will take place in the Bolshoi Theatre on the 6th of January with the performance of ballet suites based on Grigorovich’s best ballets – Romeo and Juliet, The Golden Age and The Nutcracker.

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As many of you are aware, the Bolshoi has been very busy recently filming HD transmissions of its repertoire. The Bolshoi productions of Giselle, Swan Lake and Nutcracker are all revivals/restagings of the Grigorovich versions and all have been recently filmed and broadcast to movie theaters worldwide. The current Bolshoi administration has invited Grigorovich back to stage the productions and coach the dancers. During the intermissions of the HD broadcasts, Grigorovich has been interviewed backstage (looking very energetic and alert) and has been sincerely enthusiastic about the current state of the company - particularly the soloists. So after all this disgrace and drama 15 years ago, Grigorovich is suddenly the adored grand old man of Russian ballet. Very much in line with the wave of "Soviet nostalgia" that Russia has been experiencing in the years of change and confusion after communism fell.

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I thought he was crude, too, till I saw his "Raymonda," which contains much that is exquisite and delighted me beyond measure.

And Bessmertnova was a fabulous creature, as fantastic in her way as Suzanne Farrell (who also got the bulk of the film roles). NOt that I wouldn't welcome more Maximova...

I found his Raymonda to be the most boring of all the Raymondas.

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Esperanto, is that last sentence yours or Paul's? I totally agree with whomever wrote it, i.e., the Grigorovich Raymonda is the most boring one out there, even though it still contains some lovely ensembles. YG's reworking of the Act II Pas de Six (Raymonda, Abder and the 4 friends) is a delight.

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When I wrote that, YG's was the ONLY complete Raymonda I'd ever seen. I still prefer it to Nureyev';s, where the dances are stuffed with awkward excrescences and Raymonda herself has gone faisandee. WOuld love to see others in the flesh.

I was NOT bored by YG's; I was enchanted by the dancing.

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