delibes

Ratmansky leaving Bolshoi helm

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For my Russian homework, I have translated today's Izvestiya interview with Alexey Ratmansky. In sum: he will quit the directorship at the end of the year, concentrating on choreography. He is doing a premiere for City Ballet, and 'Pierrot Lunaire" for Diana Vishneva in California February, he has just done "Bizet Variations" for Nina Ananyashvili in Georgia, "Flames of Paris " in July for the Bolshoi. It seems a new ballet on a classical literature theme at some point in the Bolshoi (at a guess by Neumeier or Eifman). He talked about Parisian disapapointment at missing Natalia Osipova in "Corsaire", he appraised Svetlana Zakharova in depth, and he glided over (I am assuming it is) Tsiskaridze's well-known declarations of hostility. He said that Soviet ballet has an important historic place in Bolshoi repertoire. He generally came over IMO as an equable and resilient leader . He said that the Bolshoi naturally is a more classically-minded troupe than the Paris one, and his main job as director was to bring the Bolshoi repertoire and artists into th 21st century during the theatre reconstruction period, and that he raised its world profile in that time. It is long, but here is the full translation for interest:

Izvestiya Jan 29 2008

Headline:

"Today the problem of leaking talent is over."

Introduction: Grigorovich's Spartacus concluded the three-week season by the Bolshoi Ballet in Paris - one of the most successful tours in the theatre's history. In conversation with Izvestiya's France correspondent Yuri Kovalenko, the Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Alexei Ratmansky spoke about changes in the theatre, and revealed that in a year he will leave his position and devote himself exclusively to choreography.

Q: What was the main value of the Paris tour?

A: While the Bolshoi stage is being restored, it's very important for the artists to perform in historic theatres like the Opera de Paris, not only the home of ballet but the place where ballet was founded as an art. It's one of the loveliest stages in the world. Here everything is inspiring - the public, the building itself, the auditorium, and of course that ceiling painted by Chagall.

Q: Local balletomane were disappointed not to see Natalia Osipova in Corsaire, the girl who was dubbed in London the new Maya Plisetskaya.

A: Osipova prepared the role and was due to debut in Paris. But a fortnight before the tour, she and her coach Marina Kondratieva decided that she was not absolutely ready, and the debut was postponed. All the same, Natalia danced in other ballets, and I know she made an impression.

Q: Is she actually the brightest of the young generation?

A: The nature of her gift is such that she is very noticeable on stage. Among the young ones I would also pick out Ivan Vasiliev, Ekaterina Krysanova, Anna Nikulina and Denis Savin, and there are others. This gifted generation is actively brought out by the repertoire. But our established stars are very young too - Zakharova, Alexandrova, Lunkina. None is over 30, and they are already famous and loved around the world.

Q: How is today's ballet repertoire formulated in the Bolshoi?

A: More than half the productions are 19th-century classics. We also preserve Grigorovich ballets, we seek out young Russian choreographers and we restore one or two forgotten people who are significant in the theatre's historical or artistic growth. In this season's repertoire - 19 large ballets, 12 one-acters, the festival for Marina Semenova's 100th birthday, the "Masters of new choreography", the international projects "Kings of the Dance" and "Benoit de la danse", many tours. In all, around 200 performances.

Q: Do your artists aspire to dance contemporary ballets or are they more habituated to classics?

A: In our great troupe the choice is wide. This person may feel closer to Grigorovich, that one to the old classics, another is attracted to new ballets, but all have the same love to make it succeed. We are really glad to work on all of it. So when the hall raises an ovation for a new version of 'Romeo and Juliet' or Twyla Tharp's 'In the Upper Room', even the more conservatively-minded artists begin to understand: if they speak to the public in a contemporary language, without losing the highest standards of interpretation, this produces a major impact. And a young public is now coming to the theatre, which is very important. But in Russia, in contrast to France, the classical ballet is more popular than contemporary, and generally speaking we adhere to the classical lineage in our repertoire.

Q: Once Grigorovich remarked that the Bolshoi had gone over later to the West, and the Kirov earlier.

A: In my opinion, he had in mind that on the whole it was not necessary to keep in step with the West. In the area of repertoire, I would agree with him. This is precisely why we are very cautious in transplanting ready-prepared productions, even ballets that are popular on world stages, in which our stars might perfectly well shine. In our search for repertoire in recent years, all the changes that the press often write about (rather more positively in the West, by the way, than here) are targeted to answer the question of what the Bolshoi is in the 21st century. How to preserve this high style in a living and contemporary way, so that we set the tone afresh, and didn't just plod along behind.

Q: Today is it possible to produce a classical ballet on classical literature - let's say, Turgenev's 'First Love'?

A: Of course, something on classical literature is possible, though the classical ballet is actually 19th-century. That's a terminological confusion. Nowadays there do exist choreographers who use classical or rather neo-classical language, but there are not many of them. The majority choose a freer plastique. In that regard, our distinguished compatriot Boris Eifman, like the American John Neumeier, often uses classical literature subjects. We do have some plans in that connection.

Q: What ballet premieres is the Bolshoi preparing?

A: This season we have already had the premiere of "The Lesson" on a Ionesco play. In February we will show a new staging of "La Sylphide" in an edition by the Dane Johan Kobborg. In July there'll be the premiere of 'The Flames of Paris', my own production. This is a significant Soviet ballet. The theme is rather difficult - revolution and the the fate of individuals on a background of terrible events.

Q: That means the Bolshoi won't refuse to do Soviet ballets?

A: That would be impossible to do, no way. I am an admirer of Soviet ballet in its best manifestations. Leaving aside the political aspects, Soviet ballet continues to impress even today. This was the latest "Bolshoi" style in ballet history.

Q: What are you doing abroad this season?

A: In Amsterdam my ballet "Russian Seasons" on Leonid Desyatnikov's music will be presented. I am preparing a premiere in New York as well for City Ballet. A production of 'Bizet Variations' has just been made for the Georgian Ballet under Nina Ananiashvili's direction. And one other project, 'Pierrot Lunaire' on Schoenberg for Diana Vishneva, that's a premiere in February in California.

Q: You have no great problem with losing ballet talents?

A: In the 90s it was almost catastrophic. Almost all of my generation went. But now it's only individuals here and there. Economically all is stable here and creatively it's interesting. In the past 4 years we've staged 24 ballets. The artists dance more and more variedly, often they go abroad. And I am only glad when they receive invitations from other prestigious theatres, like the Paris Opera.

Q: Is the company generally of one mind with you? Do critics bother you?

A: There are many of the same view as me, and yes, critics do naturally bother me. But we do have a very large collective - 220 dancers and 20 coaches. Opinions can differ. The main thing is that those who "disagree" as well as those who "agree" all dance well, because they always put the theatre's interests ahead of their own. And also that there's an understanding that we are all in one business. I will not presume to evaluate the past four years from an artistic point of view, but I can say that we have fulfilled the fundamental task - we preserved both the company and the repertoire in the period of the theatre's reconstruction. And we have considerably improved the company's profile in the world.

Q: Do people love you inside the theatre?

A: I would like to be held in respect. To be loved by my family is enough for me, and I set great store by that.

Q: Who is harder to work with, ballerinas or male dancers?

A: That depends on the character. As ballerinas are more active, in that regard they're more disciplined, and they do want to dance.

Q: So even in ballet Russian men are, as in tradition, indolent?

A: Not all, but it can happen.

Q: The Bolshoi prima, Svetlana Zakharova says of herself - "Inside, I am steel."

A: That has helped her to become what she's become. It's most important to set oneself a noteworthy goal. Our profession constantly demands the highest physical and moral strength. She has to reach her highest level every single day.

Q: A well-known critic once called Zakharova - "gifted, but cold".

A: These are not words that I can go along with. Sveta is young, but already she occupies a place in the world as one of the best. When she came to the Bolshoi, it was one of those moments that lifted the company. The competition intensified. Now she needs dramatic productions in which she might open herself up more as a dramatic actress. Including even a production on classical literature in which she could show a character in development. To call her the best would be unjust to other ballerinas. We have remarkable female artists. But God granted to Zakharova an astounding body, she is a product of a first-rate school, and generally Sveta is a very major ballerina

Q: What do you lack for complete happiness in the theatre?

A: To me happiness is the production process, when I'm rehearsing in the studio and when we're all preparing a new performance. This is an even happier experience than the premiere itself.

Q: Which company seems to you the ideal?

A: Across the different companies there are different missions. In "Corsaire" or "Pharaoh's Daughter", you need to deploy more than 100 people. Very few can manage to put on stage 68 members of the corps de ballet of such beauty. From this viewpoint the Bolshoi is close to ideal. Of course in a smaller troupe it is easier to maintain good relationships. We are not a holiday home, the rules are quite rigid; you will survive if you have strength of will, love for the profession, talant. Apart from that, there are the laws of competition - one receives a role, another misses out. Sometimes it is hard for people to hide their emotions. But that is where our training comes to our aid. I must confess, we still have work to do on that within this plan.

Q: People say, you will soon be leaving the Bolshoi Theatre.

A: My contract with the Bolshoi ends in a year. I will stop being director, but I hope I will continue to mount ballets. This is what I want to do.

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Wow, delibes, thank you so much :smilie_mondieu:

The most striking quote to me is

I will not presume to evaluate the past four years from an artistic point of view, but I can say that we have fulfilled the fundamental task - we preserved both the company and the repertoire in the period of the theatre's reconstruction. And we have considerably improved the company's profile in the world.

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I am sad to hear this news, because Ratmansky really seems to have revived a slipping company. Now the Bolshoi is almost bleeding with talent, and stars seem to transfer there year after year.

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Wow, delibes, thank you so much :speechless-smiley-003:
Helene has said exactly what I was planning to write as I read your translation. My smilie, howver, was going to be :smilie_mondieu: This is a major and fascinating story, and we owe you a great deal for bringing it to us. Many thanks, delibes.

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I actually began to (re) fall in love with ballet a few years ago, when Ratmanasky had just begun his tenure. Then, my only access was youtube and the modern Bolshoi was featured prominently. He will be much missed, and I am worried about who's next. I like Tsiskardize, however, he's still a dancer, and proud of himself, so I wouldn't like the idea of him running a company, because he might put himself in all the roles....you know, power and all that.

I just hope that I'll get to see the Bolshoi in Moscow one day, and it'll be as stunning as I imagine.

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For my Russian homework, I have translated today's Izvestiya interview with Alexey Ratmansky.

...

Izvestiya Jan 29 2008

Headline:

"Today the problem of leaking talent is over."

...

Q: People say, you will soon be leaving the Bolshoi Theatre.

A: My contract with the Bolshoi ends in a year. I will stop being director, but I hope I will continue to mount ballets. This is what I want to do.

1. Surely an A+, a million thanks, delibes!

2. Fascinating, the headline writer's choice. But it is Izvestiya...

3. Very strange, I wonder if the Bolshoi will reconsider. To let the world's premiere living choreographer go, the man who has developed such talent, who went to such heroic extremes to bring in Ivan Vasiliev, who has brought the company back to #1. Perhaps there may come a position in NYC(B)?

In any case, thank you, Mr. Ratmansky, and you too, Delibes!

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WOW! So another Bolshoi A.D. bites the dust. In truth, it must be hellish to carry-out the administrative duties of this huge company with 250 dancers and other staff. It is sad that recent directors who have taken the troupe to great heights in little time-- Ratmansky and A. Fadeyechev , most notably-- depart relatively quickly. Those nasty KGB-ish politics eventually wear down the best of men. THE GOOD NEWS is that it seems as if Ratmansky may continue his association with the Bolshoi as a choreographer/stager. He says, " I will stop being director, but I hope I will continue to mount ballets."

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THank you Delibes -- for the work of translating, and for the discernment in the first place to realize how important a story this is and to get it into English..

From my vantage point, the Bolshoi is looking like a GLORIOUS company -- the talent is amazing and looks like it's been given every encouragement, and the cream has risen to the top. He's been a great leader for them.

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Thank you, Delibes for this!

Funny, when it was announced here on this board back in 2003 that Alexei Ratmansky had been appointed AD of the Bolshoi there was mostly skepticism and apprehension, among others that he might have turned the Bolshoi into a Ratmansky-troupe. He was already condemned before he had done anything and some predicted the coming years as lost years for the Bolshoi. Well, I'm glad we were proven wrong.

On the other hand there is now a tendency, especially in the West, to give all the credit for the current blessed state of the Bolshoi Ballet to Ratmansky. It’s an often heard misconception to think of the company as ailing when Ratmansky took over. The Bolshoi that we admire and praise today is as much the work of his predecessors Boris Akimov and Alexei Fadeyechev/Vladimir Vasiliev as it is of Ratmansky. This in no way diminishes the significance of Ratmansky’s achievement (as we know it’s easier to destroy a good company than to preserve and build upon its qualities, make judicious choices of repertory, create and innovate, promote talented people, etc) and like he says himself he succeeded admirably in improving the company’s profile in the world. We all hate to see him go, but the only one who bites the dust here is the Bolshoi, not Ratmansky.

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Any predictions on who will be Ratmansky's successor? Grigorovich or someone in the very-vocal Grigorovich camp, anyone? If so, we could call it The Revenge of Spartacus.

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Those nasty KGB-ish politics eventually wear down the best of men.

I'm sure this is the case when KGB has nothing to do with. :clapping: In general it was rarely an initiative of KGB to be after somebody. The "bright idea" mostly came to them from the personal environment, mostly colleagues. :clapping: My guess is that administrative duties in such a star-ish company as Bolshoi may be worse than any KGB, at least for a person with an orientation for creativity mostly. Our Moscow balletfriends club had a meeting with Mr. Iksanov about two months ago and he said that for the moment he sees nobody who could replace Ratmansky. At the same time he gave us a clear message that Ratmansky is not willing to continue to be both balletmaster and administrator. Here in Moscow we are also rather concerned who is going to follow Ratmansky as an art-director. To me personally his period brought a lot of exciting moments. He had rather distinct repertory strategy, which I would rather be followed. But this is seldom (if ever!) the case in our theatre.

I do not think that Grigorovich will be (and should be) back at his age. His post-Bolshoi period showed, IMHO, that his creativity is already in the past. And I would prefer if the next art director does not sweep out all that was done before him – just for the sake of traditions which here, in Russia, we are more enthusiastic to speak about, than to preserve. Actually not a single ballet in the former Bolshoi repertory (say by Gorsky, Goleizovsky, Zakharov) has survived the Grigorovich era. Still I am not at all sure that Bolshoi ballet company should be a company of mostly one author ( as is Hamburg ballet, for example ).

Well, the future seems rather vague for the moment, though we have a whole bunch of rumours as to who is eager to rule the Bolshoi ballet. But our nearest expectations and concerns are connected with Ratmansky's “Flames of Paris” – a rather challenging, but risky enterprise from my point of view. :clapping:

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Thank you everyone for your appreciation - I will tell you if my teacher gives me A+! I was struck by what Ratmansky said about Osipova not performing Medora in Paris - that a fortnight before she decided she would not be fully ready. This kind of fastidiousness is rare outside Russia, I shld think. In England and America, a fortnight - even a few minutes? (see Mr B, if I recall aright? ) - can be considered quite enough for a ballerina to pick up a new leading role and perform it to the public. One attitude is about serious study, the other is about show business. Osipova seems to be treating her role with the same perfectionism and reflectiveness that is more expected in a profounder ballet than a frivolity like 'Le Corsaire' . If it was the same seriousness of mind that she applied to preparing her performance in the Twyla Tharp ballet that they did in London, it certainly is not reducing the bubbliness of her impact, if anything the opposite. Even though she was not the lead, she was, like Ratmansky said, absolutely noticeable !

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Thank you everyone for your appreciation - I will tell you if my teacher gives me A+! I was struck by what Ratmansky said about Osipova not performing Medora in Paris - that a fortnight before she decided she would not be fully ready. This kind of fastidiousness is rare outside Russia, I shld think. In England and America, a fortnight - even a few minutes? (see Mr B, if I recall aright? ) - can be considered quite enough for a ballerina to pick up a new leading role and perform it to the public. One attitude is about serious study, the other is about show business. Osipova seems to be treating her role with the same perfectionism and reflectiveness that is more expected in a profounder ballet than a frivolity like 'Le Corsaire' . If it was the same seriousness of mind that she applied to preparing her performance in the Twyla Tharp ballet that they did in London, it certainly is not reducing the bubbliness of her impact, if anything the opposite. Even though she was not the lead, she was, like Ratmansky said, absolutely noticeable !

Delibes, I wouldn't call the new Bolshoi Corsaire a "frivolity". It runs about 3 hours 40 and the main role of Medora is really a marathon, not only technically but there are also a lot of mise-en-scènes, mimed and acted scenes which she needs to learn. As a matter of fact Osipova did learn the whole thing in less than two days time, but eventually she didn't make her debut for a number of reasons.

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On the other hand there is now a tendency, especially in the West, to give all the credit for the current blessed state of the Bolshoi Ballet to Ratmansky. It’s an often heard misconception to think of the company as ailing when Ratmansky took over. The Bolshoi that we admire and praise today is as much the work of his predecessors Boris Akimov and Alexei Fadeyechev/Vladimir Vasiliev as it is of Ratmansky.

That's why I found his comment so noteworthy, because he does not take credit for more than raising the Bolshoi's profile -- by virtue of touring extensively, the profile is raised, but to have it raised in a positive way, the company had to be well-prepared when it toured -- and guiding it through the difficult time of the renovation of the main theater.

In Seattle, we found out what happened to our ballet company when the Opera House was closed for 18 months, and they performed in the arena next door, and it several years for the company to make up the deficit, and I don't think his contribution should be underestimated in this regard.

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That's why I found his comment so noteworthy, because he does not take credit for more than raising the Bolshoi's profile -- by virtue of touring extensively, the profile is raised, but to have it raised in a positive way, the company had to be well-prepared when it toured -- and guiding it through the difficult time of the renovation of the main theater.

In Seattle, we found out what happened to our ballet company when the Opera House was closed for 18 months, and they performed in the arena next door, and it several years for the company to make up the deficit, and I don't think his contribution should be underestimated in this regard.

Absolutely, Helene. When I interviewed him for Dance View in 2005 Ratmansky admitted that the closure of the main theatre and more exactly the possible consequences for the company were one of his main worries. But he succeeded brilliantly in coping with that.

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We have all read of (and some have experienced) the travail and fatigue of extensive touring. Under these difficult conditions, a company's weaknesses quickly become apparent. What the Bolshoi displayed on their most recent visit here was a strong company with healthy morale. Ratmansky obviously called on many talents, artistic and social, to nurture such a complex organism as well as he did.

I have no doubt that Ratmansky will continue to thrive in whatever circumstances he finds himself. I hope whoever the theater chooses as the next Ballet AD can build on what he finds.

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Those nasty KGB-ish politics eventually wear down the best of men.

I'm sure this is the case when KGB has nothing to do with. :clapping: In general it was rarely an initiative of KGB to be after somebody. The "bright idea" mostly came to them from the personal environment, mostly colleagues. :clapping: My guess is that administrative duties in such a star-ish company as Bolshoi may be worse than any KGB, at least for a person with an orientation for creativity mostly.

Proof positive the FSB (KGB) was not involved: Ratmansky's body was not discovered in his bathroom, partially cut and sawn into neat 2.5cm dice, with more than half flushed down the toilet,and the Moscow Coroner did not rule it a suicide. :clapping:

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Actually this is not so fresh news and it is evidently Ratmansky's decision. Five more years of administration and he would loose his creativity in staging dances (what he likes most of all).

The first contract between Ratmansky and Bolshoi was signed for 3,5 years and expired in June 2007. Ratmansky signed a new one but only for 1,5 years, till January 1st 2009. This date was obviously determined according to the schedule of reconstruction of the historical Bolshoi building, its Main Stage. At that time it was to reopen in the end of 2008. Nevertheless since Ratmansky could sign a contract for any period in scope of the terms of the general director Iksanov (5 years or a bit less) it was a clear message that Ratmansky is inclined to leave Bolshoi.

At the meeting with ballet-goers on December 3 '2007 Mr. Iksanov was asked who was going to be the future artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet. The answer was as follows: "There are many pretenders for this post, and I considered many candidates, but I see nobody except Ratmansky for the moment".

But it seems that Ratmansky is rather determined to concentrate on creative activities, having nothing to do with administration of a huge company. So Iksanov was certainly asked whether he plans to create a position of resident choreographer, which doesn’t exist for the moment. His answer was that he sees Ratmansky role more broadened: as a person, who can also determine the creative policy of the company, be responsible for the whole repertory and conceptions of the Bolshoi tours. That in his view can free Ratmansky from such routine obligations as casting of regular performances, schedule, etc. etc.

Thus, according to American political slang Ratmansky now is a kind of a lame duck, and no wonder that the fight for his chair has already started. Such periods are generally hazardous both to the theater and its dancers. We’ll see what comes out of all that, but looking back I can surely declare that the years with Ratmansky were full of creative news and excitement, even if not everything proved to be a great success. Also we should not forget that Ratmansky worked in difficult conditions of reduced repertory, of the lack of rooms for dancers and rehearsals and all that.

I agree with Marc. Certainly Ratmasnky completed reformas started by Alexei Fadeechev and in some sense by Boris Akimov. For instance, the new Le Corsaire was in Bolshoi's plans just for that season at the beginning of which Fadeechev was fired. And Boris Akimov said during his term about the intentions to create Massine program. Both projects were done by Ratmansky. Class-Concert by Messerer is the first ballet of the pre-Grigorovitch era, The Flame of Paris will be the next one. No ballets were excluded from the repertory during Ratmansky's term. Thus, he supports traditions even more than anybody else earlier.

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Further developments are spelled out by Tatiana Kuznetsova in Kommersant yestrerday (Feb 2) under the headline "Dances with Directors", a long and amazingly frank piece about Ratmansky's achievements & possible successors as BB ballet director. She considers that Ratmansky the most successful AD the BB has had. The theatre is feverishly looking for someone to start in just a year's time. She believes that the choice will decide whether the Bolshoi slips from its world-beating position right now to the 'provincial edges' once again. She says that Ratmansky will become chief guest choreographer at New York City Ballet, and wanted a similar position at the Bolshoi. She discusses ex-BB directors who might hope for resurrection, old and current BB stars, ex-BB stars now directing elsewhere, emigrants and Kirov possibles. Notable is her opinion that the problem lies inside the Bolshoi ballet itself that after a lifetime of totalitarianism it is more used to the 'whip' than the light hand, which it considers weakness. After referring to the Bolshoi's successful recent tours in London and Paris and the world recognition given to Ratmansky's young proteges Osipova and Vasiliev, she goes over the list of possibles.

The first successful AD, she says, was A Fadeyechev, director in 1998, who first brought in Balanchine, reconstructed the blockbuster Pharaoh's Daughter and won the company enormous success in New York. But after the new theatre director Rozhdestvensky cancelled the ballet plans, Mr F quite the company. His successor Boris Akimov, a fine coach but too cautious a director, initiated the production of Roland Petit's 'Queen of Spades' which won several Golden Masks and even a state prize. But the most successful director the theatre acquired was the following AD Alexei Ratmansky. The Bolshoi's general director Anatoly Iksanov engaged him at the time of the staging of 'Bright Stream'. At that time the young choreographer was still counted as a "hope for the future" and was dancing in the Royal Danish Ballet.

The 34yo dancer renounced performing, but on the other hand the Bolshoi acquired its own creator, dreamed of by every great theatre in the world. However, Mr Ratmansky sacrificed his choreographic activity to the obligations of directorship: in four years he staged at the Bolshoi just three new ballets (of which one was smallscale, and another, the remounting of Petipa's Corsaire, contained only a few original fragments of Ratmansky's). In the quality of his directorship Mr Ratmansky provided the theatre with the breakthrough that raised the Moscow company to a world-beating level. Under him some 20 productions were put on (and this despite the reconstruction of the main theatre) and the repertoire became not only balanced but cultivated. Under him distinguished foreigners began to give masterclasses in the Bolshoi, introducing the dancers to the most important world schools, under him the casts became younger, and he radically updated the list of those who made headlines, ballerinas and male dancers.

However this year Ratmansky's contract with the Bolshoi ends as artistic director, and it seems he does not intend to extend it. The point is that everyone is happy with the theatre's successes except the company itself, accustomed to strict directorship and inclined to take a light touch for weakness. It fell to the Bolshoi's AD in all the years of his job to come up against both secret sabotage and open hostility towards his undertakings. Older coaches showed complete disrespect towards an "out-of-town youth" (on graduating from Moscow's school, Ratmansky was assigned to the Kiev ballet), eminent artists shunned premieres that they disliked, and people cursed their boss without a trace of embarrassment in numerous interviews. The choreographer did not have enough time for his own productions, while around the world the demand for "a Ratmansky" reached a peak. Finally, Mr Ratmansky received an offer from the leading American company NYCB, and, it is most likely [edit], will become its chief guest choreographer - ie, responsible for regularly putting on his own ballets, but not run the company's daily operation. Mr Ratmansky is prepared to play a similar role in the Bolshoi, but this is only possible under conditions where the actual artistic director is someone close to him in creative conviction.

And where will such a person be found? There are many candidates, but no definitively suitable figures. There are charismatic personalities from the 70s, idols of the Bolshoi's "Golden Era" , who were genius dancers but proved feeble directors: both Vladimir Vasiliev and Mikhail Lavrovsky irrevocably discredited themselves as directors. The directors of active companies Viacheslav Gordeev and Andrey Petrov, who are aged 60, have proved themselves dyed-in-the-wool routine-merchants. The veteran ballet entrepreneurs for some 45years, of the type of Gediminas Taranda or Andris Liepa, are dismaying in their [her words] lack of principle, bad taste and staggering lack of choreographic culture. The 34-year-old Nikolai Tsiskaridze is absorbed by aggressive self-promotion. The showman and television star is known for his definite creative vision: he likes only those creators who like him (that is, the patriarchs Roland Petit and Yuri Grigorovich)) , and only those dancers who are less successful than himself. It's clear that if he gets the Bolshoi company, it will lose a large section of the stars of the new era, and from its repertoire will disappear the hits of the past five years.

There are still some ex-directors around. But Mr Fadeyechev closed the door so firmly when he left the Bolshoi that the repercussions have not been forgotten eithe in the theatre or in the Culture Ministry. It is hardly likely that Mr Akimov can be persuaded to stay as an "interim" director: so unceremoniously was his contract annulled, in the rush to obtain the promising Ratamansky. As an ideal alternative would appear the Bolshoi's ex-prima ballerina Nina Ananiashvili, now resurrecting the Georgian Ballet from ruin. But Russia's leading theatre is hardly going to call on the godmother of Mikhail Saakashvili's child, for political reasons.

There are emigrants available. Former Bolshoi leader Vladimir Derevyanko, chief of the Dresden Ballet. Mikhail Messerer, descendant of the noted Moscow ballet dynasty Messerer-Plisetsky, a teacher of world renown, who recently rehabilitated at the Bolshoi his uncle Asaf Messerer's 'Class Concert'. Ex-leading Bolshoi dancer and People's Artist Alexandr Vetrov -an irreproachable professional pushed out of the theatre at end of the 90s and resettled in the sticks in America. But it is hardly likely that they, after being spoiled by Western discipline, would cope with the prevailing artistic licence [corrected translation] at the Bolshoi.

There remain the St Petersburgers. An offer from Moscow to Petersburg at a creative crossroads is historically customary. In the 19th century Alexander Gorsky was sent over, and in his time he raised high Moscow pride. In the 1930s an entire army of Leningraders ruled the Bolshoi as coaches, ballet directors and dancers. The 37yo Grigorivich became leader in 1964, dismissing the Golden Generation, so that for 30 years the BB became the 'Grigorovich Ballet' . Playing the Petersburg card is quite realistic - the aesthete and expert in old style, Sergei Vikharev has successfully directed the Novosibirsk Ballet; Igor Zelensky, who spent half his career working in the Balanchine company, is firmly directing the Siberians now. However, undoubtedly in Moscow a Petersburger will come in to conflict with the hopeless antagonism of the indigenous population.

The totalitarianism of Soviet ballet, even though it formally ended after perestroika, left its traces: Russian performers prefer the whip to the sweetmeat, while ballet directors lack the necessary range and original creative vision. Of the new generation of leaders, Vladimir Malakhov and Nina Ananiashvili have succeeded in take charge of foreign companies. Finally, at the end of the year we will lose Alexei Ratmansky. And unless a miracle happens, once again we will find ourselves on the provincial edges.

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... Mr Ratmansky received an offer from the leading American company NYCB, and, as soon as he can, will become its chief guest choreographer - ie, responsible for regularly putting on his own ballets, but not run the company's daily operation.

...

Well, this is great news for New York! I see that a new ballet from Mr. Ratmansky is listed on NYCB's Spring program: May 29, 31, June 3, 12. But I hope a way is found to keep The Bolshoi on course.

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But it is hardly likely that they, after being spoiled by Western discipline, would cope with the prevailing artistic wish at the Bolshoi.

"Spoiled by discipline" is an interesting juxtaposition.

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And unless a miracle happens, once again we will find ourselves on the provincial edges.

I remember a lot of pessimism when Ratmansky was due to start his term at the Bolshoi. I hope that we'll be able to look back in a few years and say that these concerns were just as ill-founded!

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I was just comparing the current Mariinsky Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet, especially in the quality of its dancers and their artistry, and that's where I've started preferring the Bolshoi just that much *insert thumb and forefinger two mm apart* more. While Mariinsky has Lopatkina, Nioradze, Vishneva as the supreme ballerinas, they also have...*certain* gymnasts that regress all the beauty that the Mariinsky stands for. I just think that the taste level of the Bolshoi is good, and fairly consistent, and after seeing clips of Osipova's Giselle, I was convinced that the Bolshoi has managed to modernize its extensions and atheleticism without sacrificing taste and going for those 180+ degree extensions, you know? That's where I think Ratmansky should be given some credit (as well as the coaches, of course!), because he's managed to reign in everyone, while pushing them to take ballet to new heights. I can't say the same about the quality of the Mariinsky, I think there, it's more of a "To each his/her own, and we'll reward whomever gets the most applause"

Do I have a wrong interpretation? That's just been my gut feeling over the past few months, as Somova and Osipova are the wunderkinds of their respective companies, and one has had a much different reception from us here than the other.

ngitanjali :clapping:

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the Bolshoi has managed to modernize its extensions and atheleticism without sacrificing taste

That is a good way of putting it. And I agree, the Bolshoi seems to keep clear of the shocking lapses of taste that so many other Russian companies show. I trust, though, that a large degree of credit goes to the teachers there, and that the change of director won't impact this too much.

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....as Somova and Osipova are the wunderkinds of their respective companies, and one has had a much different reception from us here than the other.

ngitanjali :clapping:

ngitanjali, you are so right about the different receptions from the west. But I would hardly call Somova a 'wunderkind' the likes of Osipova. Osipova is admired and cheered in her own city. Somova is admired and cheered by her coaches (and her one-person public-relations department on the internet).

In the Kommersant article that Delibes so graciously supplied/translated, the following caught my eye: It fell to the Bolshoi's AD in all the years of his job to come up against both secret sabotage and open hostility towards his undertakings. This is what I meant in my earlier post about "KGB-ish intrigues" at the Bolshoi. Some of you took me too literally. I meant sekret wheelings-and-dealings and psychological backstabbings, which is undoubtedly draining on Ratmansky.

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