Natalia

Changes at Bolshoi Helm...again!

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These are new reports from a Moscow-based friend. Current Bolshoi AD, Yuri Burlaka, is about to step down and Sergei Vikharev is a very likely successor. Vikharev, of course, recently staged his reconstruction of the Petipa/Ceccheti Coppelia for the troupe, so he is a known entity and 'friend' of the theater...and very much in synch with Yuri Burlaka's love of history and restaging Imperial Russian productions. [burlaka's own staging of the 1890s Petipa Esmeralda is about to premiere in two weeks' time. That is set to go ahead, of course.]

Opening this thread to paste news reports as they come in and to discuss these latest changes. The turn-over is supposed to happen on January 1, 2010, according to my source. It appears to be a friendly turn-over...Burlaka's wish. Not a Soviet-Era-style coup. :unsure:

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Maybe with him as director someone will actually tour with his lovely reconstructions!

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Well, last year's rumors took a while to come to fruition. A series of news reports from the normally-very-reputable ITAR-TASS Russian news agency & Izvestia now report a number of changes in the Bolshoi Ballet's management, including:

On March 15, Bolshoi AD Yuri Burlaka will be replaced by Makhar Vasiyev (ex-Mariinsky AD, currently the AD of La Scala), according to BT's Genl Director Anatoly Iksanov:

http://www.itar-tass.com/txt/level2.html?NewsID=16024452&PageNum=0

Today, company manager Gennady Yanin -- known to many of us as wonderful character artist -- resigned:

http://www.izvestia.ru/culture/article3152663/

...and the new company manager is soloist Yan Godovsky:

http://www.itar-tass.com/txt/level2.html?NewsID=16042971&PageNum=0

I had seen the top story before (last Friday) reported in Kommersant but now, on ITAR-TASS, it seems more reputable. Also, some of the 'yellow journalism' papers talk about a "Bolshoi Pornogate" scandal but none of that is really substantiated and this is not the appropriate venue for discussion.

It's not sure if Vaziyev will remain at the helm of La Scala. His current contract is through 2012.

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Oy. What a mess. Is he going to wreck the same havoc on the poor Bolshoi as he did the Mariinsky??

I wonder how Zakharova feels??

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I know, ksk04. I honestly didn't want to believe the first articles sent to me on Friday by firends. It seemd absurd, to be honest. I also thought that Vasiyev was happy and doing well in Milan, no? I hope that this doesn't derail the Raymonda reconstruction in October (for La Scala).

Some of the articles mention that Vasiyev didn't want the Bolshoi job but others who DID want it (but did not succeed) include Yuri Grigorovich and Nikolai Tsiskaridze.

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If I was Vasiyev and they told me that Tsiskaridze also wanted the job I would have high tailed it out of the interview asap. We all remember the raking over the coals Ratmansky got from him, and that was without losing a job to Ratmansky. :smilie_mondieu:

I thought Vasiyev was doing well too...he is premiering 3 new full lengths this year so he clearly has a decent budget to work with and can program what he wants. He got Somova a cushy guesting gig, his wife a coaching position and basically ejected Zakharova from her etoile position (though her pregnancy did partially contribute to this). He is responsible for the return of Guillem in a 3 act ballet, though Guillem did say that all was not well in La Scala after her guesting gig, so I am sure there has to be some unknown drama going on.

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Nikolai Tsiskaridze is hostile to the reconstructions. I remember in an interview the gist of what he rather smugly said was that the people reconstructing the works weren't around when the works were choreographed, so why should we take what they do seriously?

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OMG !!! This is astonishing; there must be turmoil in the company at this. My great fear is that he will fill the company with Somovas.

Also, some of the 'yellow journalism' papers talk about a "Bolshoi Pornogate" scandal but none of that is really substantiated and this is not the appropriate venue for discussion.

I can substantiate this, a friend was sent a website via a Russian dancer last week filled with pornographic images, of course they may be photo-shopped but it seems some one was the victim of a hate campaign. Leaves a bad taste doesn't it?

As for Nikolai Tsiskaridze it's true there were personality clashes with Ratmansky, but from a talk I attended that Ratmansky gave in London a couple of years ago, their differences of opinion didn't affect their professional dealings. Also it is worth remembering that Tsiskaridze was a very regular guest at the Kirov during Vaziev's tenure and I believe they got on well so there is no reason at this point to think there will be problems between them.

Surprised that Yan Godovsky is the new deputy director as he is relatively young. He is a first class dancer and a very talented teacher (I've seen him teach) but perhaps too nice for such a tough job: I wish him good luck as he'll need all the luck he can get.

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Thanks for the insights, Mashinka. I believe that the 'Pornogate' episode simply precipitated the inevitable, although right now we can only assume that Yuri Burlaka, the AD (until today?), is just 'guilty by association' with his company manager, Yanin.

Tsiskaridze DID get on with Vasiyev and even performed in the Bayadere-1900 reconstruction at one of the early Mariinsky Festivals. I also know that he adores reconstructions -- but reconstructions that do not 'take over' Yuri Grigorovich versions. If it's a reconstructed version that supplants a beloved Grigorovich version at the Bolshoi, forget it! But other reconstructions are OK with him. For example, I have the film of Tsiskaridze's ca-1998/99 interview on Russian TV during the staging of the Lacotte 'reconstruction' of Pharaoh's Daughter, in which he GUSHES ON about the great service that Lacotte has done to restore a piece of the Bolshoi's "and Mother Russia's" great cultural heritage.

Alina Somova would indeed become Prima Ballerina Assolutissima of the Boslhoi should Vasiyev/Chenchikova relocate to Moscow. I am now wondering if the Bolshoi developments may, in some way, be related to Somova being taken off recent Mariinsky North American engagements? Just a little thought.

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Alina Somova would indeed become Prima Ballerina Assolutissima of the Boslhoi should Vasiyev/Chenchikova relocate to Moscow. I am now wondering if the Bolshoi developments may, in some way, be related to Somova being taken off recent Mariinsky North American engagements? Just a little thought.

I'm trying to see a bright side of this, like Somova leaving post haste for Moscow and not appearing with the Kirov in London this summer.

Seriously though, would the Moscow audience stand for that? They are a vociferous bunch and I know of principal dancers having brooms thrown at them on stage or having someone let off an alarm clock during a solo. If they do that to their own, what could Somova expect?

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Who knows? It looks like nobody - not Vasiyev, not Vikharov, nor anybody else - is the new A.D. of the Bolshoi Ballet. (No Vasiyev would mean no Somova for Moscow. The city rests.)

This news just in from the Kultura TV (state-sponsored) website:

http://www.tvkultura.ru/news.html?id=617528&cid=178

My rough translation:

THE SEAT AT THE HEAD OF THE BOLSHOI BALLET IS NOW VACANT

14:58 15.03.11 The head (Artistic Directorship) of the Bolshoi Ballet remains vacant. The awaited naming of a new artistic leader of the ballet company, promised for today, did not take place. As per the BT's General Director, Anatoliy Iksanov, "The contract period of the current ballet company head, Yuri Petrovich Burlakya, expired exactly today. So for Yuri Petrovich, today in reality was his last working day." However, as far as the designation of a new ballet head is concerned, thus far, according to Iksanov, " ...this question is not yet resolved, and the post remains vacant." However, some changes at the BT have already occurred. Yesterday (Monday, March 14) a new Company Manager was announced: a Leading Soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet, the Merited Artist of Russia, Yan Godowski, replaced the Merited Artist of Russia, Gennady Yanin, who had served as Ballet Company Manager since 2003.

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Alina Somova would indeed become Prima Ballerina Assolutissima of the Boslhoi should Vasiyev/Chenchikova relocate to Moscow. I am now wondering if the Bolshoi developments may, in some way, be related to Somova being taken off recent Mariinsky North American engagements? Just a little thought.

I'm trying to see a bright side of this, like Somova leaving post haste for Moscow and not appearing with the Kirov in London this summer.

Seriously though, would the Moscow audience stand for that? They are a vociferous bunch and I know of principal dancers having brooms thrown at them on stage or having someone let off an alarm clock during a solo. If they do that to their own, what could Somova expect?

Thank G_d the Somovi aren't relocating to Moscow.

Mashinka wrote:

Seriously though, would the Moscow audience stand for that?

No.

They are a vociferous bunch and I know of principal dancers having brooms thrown at them on stage or having someone let off an alarm clock during a solo.

True. If Vaziev had gone to the Bolshoi and brought Alina with him, he would have to be her human shield because she would be the prime target of the Moscow audience and critics. They're still reeling from Somova's Golden Mask win as the Tsar Maiden in "Little Humpbacked Horse" over Osipova's monologue in "Russian Seasons" last year.

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This is all quite shocking, but then again, who knows if the photos are real or altered. With endemic corruption in Russia, I wouldn't rule out photoshopping images, maybe he didn't pay a bribe? Or maybe he decided to let it all come out and then seek a position in Europe in a year when things have died down (and where this sort of thing isn't so shocking).

I spoke to a Moscovite emigre friend, who told me Russians are very conservative about these sorts of things, especially whene they involve national institutions like the Bolshoi.

How does someone smuggle a broom into a theatre, and how does one hide it at one's seat without discovery? Faint praise is sufficient to get the message across.

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I have to wonder how such superb productions and dancing that I saw on tour, aside from the Kennedy Center-driven abridged edition of "Le Corsaire" and the development of so many young, wonderful dancers happens under these circumstances.

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Seriously though, would the Moscow audience stand for that? They are a vociferous bunch and I know of principal dancers having brooms thrown at them on stage or having someone let off an alarm clock during a solo.

I beg to differ!

Firstly, such atrocious action would not be characteristic of Moscowvite audience at all, whom I know to be warm and appreciative. From reading memoirs of Ekaterina Maximova “Madame Nyet” one could gather that oddities like that could had taken place in the past, but were a product of bitter professional rivalry. Not audiences, for such wicked ideas usually spring up deep inside compromised psychic of few (very few, thank God) balletomanes deprived of life of their own and/or retiring and not successful dancers.

Disclaimer: Reference to a disreputable bunch of balletomanes is in no way concerns anyone on this board. Rather it puts out a rhetorical question of: what kind of person would choose to perform such an act of barbarism as appose to simply skipping a performance with a dancer one doesn’t particularly care for?

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The incidents I referred to are factual and reported in the press at the time. Towards the end of Grigorovich's tenure there were demonstrations against him both inside and outside the theatre (reported on the BBC World Service).

Audience antics are rivalled by on stage incidents; remember the public sacking of Gediminas Taranda? Remember Irek Mukhamedov seriously assaulting a member of the public? These things are well documented. I myself had a run-in with a member of the Bolshoi claque a few years back, though admittedly that was at the opera, so I have personal experience that things are not all sweetness and light there as you suggest.

Disclaimer: Reference to a disreputable bunch of balletomanes is in no way concerns anyone on this board. Rather it puts out a rhetorical question of: what kind of person would choose to perform such an act of barbarism as appose to simply skipping a performance with a dancer one doesn’t particularly care for?

In Russia it seems to me quite a number of people indulge in these 'acts of barbarism' as you call them. Facts are facts and wishing otherwise won't change them

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as per ITAR news, looks like Sergey Filin will Fill-in the spot (sorry couldn't resist the pun). I adored the dancer, and what he did with Stanislavsky's ballet is very impressive, and he's a great insightful smart person (from my once conversation with him after YAGP'10 in NYC).

http://www.itar-tass.com/level2.html?NewsID=16062010&PageNum=0

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What is "quite a number", though? Flashers get quite a lot of publicity, but not that many people run around naked in public.

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as per ITAR news, looks like Sergey Filin will Fill-in the spot (sorry couldn't resist the pun). I adored the dancer, and what he did with Stanislavsky's ballet is very impressive, and he's a great insightful smart person (from my once conversation with him after YAGP'10 in NYC).

http://www.itar-tass.com/level2.html?NewsID=16062010&PageNum=0

YID, I just saw that too. AND Filin is the one who had the great taste and good sense to schedule Yevgenia Obraztsova's debut as Odette/Odile (in a few weeks, at the Stanislavsky). For that alone, I'm cheering for Filin!

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It's now official. From the Bolshoi Press Office (pr@bolshoi.ru), I have just rec'vd this:

Yan Godovsky, the Bolshoi Ballet leading soloist, has been appointed the Bolshoi Ballet Assistant Director.

Sergei Filin, the former Bolshoi Ballet principal and the former Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre Ballet Director, has been appointed the Bolshoi Ballet Director.

So interesting how the Assistant Director appointment is cited first...a 'build up'! Congrats to both gentlemen!!!

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What is "quite a number", though? Flashers get quite a lot of publicity, but not that many people run around naked in public.

You’re asking the how long is a piece of string question. No one can say how many are involved, but I’ve witnessed an incident myself and every dancer has a story to tell on this score. The claque’s an odious bunch and apparently very active in Moscow, although some things I’ve been told sound far fetched I’ve no reason to believe they aren’t true

Check out the Russian forums and you’ll discover just how unsavoury the sentiments are and thoughts can sometimes turn into actions, ergo an unwanted director can expect a rough ride.

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Well, I don't think we'll have to worry now about the Moscow public throwing tomatoes at Somova or anyone else affiliated with Mr/Mrs Vaziyev. :clapping:

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