Posted 11 June 2008 - 05:21 AM
Gergiev's interview in Rossiskaya Gazeta, June 4:
Headline: Crisis in choreography: Yuri Fateev will lead the Mariinsky ballet.
An introduction outlines the on-off saga of Vaziev offering his resignation in March but it not being ratified, his non-appearance in the US tour, and Fateev's being deputed to lead that. It says that Gergiev has been reconsidering the ballet management, and Vaziev "undoubtedly" hoped that there might be a last-ditch offer to recognize by retitling him "artistic director" his sterling work in overhauling the Kirov's repertoire and world ranking, through adding mastery of 20th and 21st-century styles, Balanchine and Forsythe, as well as the 19th century reconstructions of academic classicism to their core repertoire.
In the interview itself, Gergiev was first asked why the Vaziev problem had dragged out for two months.
Gergiev: There was no problem whatever. Our company's manager gave notice of his leaving, perhaps under pressure from some nervous overload or tiredness, since recently he was not giving his all. We had these big spring tours to New York, Britain, and performances in Moscow. I gave Vaziev time for thought, but on the other hand the theatre is no place for wavering to and fro: yes, I will, no I won't, yes I want to, no I don't want to. Why upset the collective before an important tour in New York? That is what you might expect of an inexperienced or unwise director. Of course I also had to consider whether in principle the structure of the ballet directorship was right in our theatre. This structure appeared in years of heavy crisis and perhaps has by now run its course. It's in relation to that history that people spoke of some crisis or other in the Mariinsky. But there is not the slightest crisis. No one blames Vaziev because Russia has produced no brilliant choreographers of the middle or younger generations. We noted Ratmansky at that time, when indeed, no one else knew of him; he was a 27yo dancer in Denmark. The choreographic crisis is not a Mariinsky problem, but a general one. As regards the structure and organisation of work in the Mariinsky ballet company, with such an evident problem with finding a leading choreographer, I had to consider the best possible formula which would allow us to guard the highest standards of the company and also create new productions.
Q: Resulting from your reflections, what have you decided to keep of old? Or are you now going to operate in line with Western troupes- Covent Garden, Paris, La Scala, where in general there isn't an artistic leader, but just a ballet director [In Russian they have several ways of differentiating the top job; what we call artistic director in a ballet company is usually called "chief balletmaster" acknowldging an essential choreographic core to the job, while leaving the administrative job to the "ballet director" or company manager, which is what Vaziev is. By reverse, in English "balletmaster" means classroom coach, not as important even as the company manager. The term "artistic director" in Russian seems currently to be applied only to Gergiev, as the overall strategic artistic chief of the theatre]
A: In our theatre the structure of ballet directorship has continually altered under the influence of circumstance. In Soviet times when the chief balletmaster was Igor Belsky or Konstantin Sergeev, or Oleg Vinogradov, their superiority over everyone else was obvious, like that of Yuri Grigorovich in the Bolshoi Theatre. Productions were seen as landmark events. And in those days there was a clarity of style. I remember how people argued whether to allow Vinogradov into the Kirov, because he was from Malegot [Maly Ballet, or Mikhailovsky] and had no connection at all with the Kirov. Now it's all changed, but in a great country there is hardly one choreographer apart from Ratmansky of whom one can seriously talk as an artistic leader. To whom in reality can one entrust a company like the Mariinsky?
Q: How did Yuri Fateev figure, given your assessment of this situation?
A: Yuri Fateev is our balletmaster-repetiteur, knows the company exceptionally well and has worked in this theatre all his life, so he is a predictable person. Imagine, you are on tour, you have 200 people. They must know what they're rehearsing tomorrow. It was said that the company manager had given notice; peple kept asking me about why I had not signed off Vaziev's declaration. I say: please, let the man work. No, Vaziev doesn't want to work. I say, okay, let him write me a two-page assessment of the situation. It doesn't come. He is a complex character: makes things hard with Uliyana Lopatkina, who is a world-class artist, and has problems with Diana Vishnėva. There were also more difficulties than was necessary with Svetlana Zakharova, which is why she left. Why must we lose our best people? Why don't I have issues with Vladimir Galuzin even though he's an outstanding singer? Because I know he is a great artist. I need everybody, Olga Borodina, Anna Netrebko, Larisa Dyadkova, Galuzin. Therefore for entirely pragmatic reasons I decided to look for a person who can construct precise working processes and normal relationships: which people will rehearse, which ones perform, when technicians will be needed, or orchestral rehearsals. Apart from that, there's a need to support the younger ones. I say frankly that in two days of talks with Fateev that I got more firm grounds for action than in the past three to five years working with Vaziev. I never intended and I don't intend now to drive anyone out or remove them. I simply want that our chief should occupy himself calmly and steadily with the company, without shouting and fuss: rehearse, put up the casts. So I don't suddenly discover that our artists are running off to dance at the Mikhailovsky theatre. And if suddenly I should sound out Ratmansky about the job of chief guest choreographer, he should know he would encounter no organisational difficulties here, and concern himself entirely with creativity. Yuri Fateev can fix this kind of thing.
Yuri Fateev CV: Born Aug 21 1964 Leningrad. Graduated Leningrad's Vaganova Academy. 1982 taking into the Kirov ballet. Appeared on stage up until 2003. As coach prepared productions by Balanchine, Roland Petit, John Neumeier, at the Kirov. Has taught at the Royal Swedish Ballet, Pacific North-West Ballet, where he staged the Mariinsky productions of 'Raymonda' and 'Le Corsair'. Assisted in the staging of 'Le Corsaire' at the Royal Danish Ballet.