Jayne

Nikolay Tsiskaridze Opinions

65 posts in this topic

This man has an opinion on everything related to the Bolshoi. He deserves his own thread to discuss his continual criticisms.

Today's opinion: Regarding David Hallberg casting as Prince Desire for opening night of Sleeping Beauty

I like David very much and respect him as a dancer, but it is an insult to the entire Russia ballet, a demonstration of indifference to the rich Russian tradition and culture," Nikolay Tsiskaridze, a Bolshoi premier dancer said in an interview Friday.... He said that the company's management, in hiring Hallberg, projects a certain attitude, and because of that, among other things, "Russian dancers see no future for them in the Bolshoi."

June 23 opinion: Regarding Bolshoi dance floor, changing room, equipment

At the Bolshoi he is famous for his demanding character. His relationship with Anatoly Iksanov, the theater’s general manager, is falling apart at the seams....The dancer irks the Bolshoi’s administration with his public criticism, complaining about the poor state of dancers’ changing rooms, the uncomfortable dance floor and equipment that needs replacing....“Maybe I irritate him; I don’t care,” said Tsiskaridze in an interview after a rehearsal for the show. “The theater’s managers come and go, and I will stay"....adding that he would later like to work as general manager of the Bolshoi.

Regarding the Bolshoi Renovation

The senior dancer claimed that rather than being a restoration, something new had been created. "It is a new creation," he said in a separate interview with Russian TV. "You have the feeling that you are in a hotel in Turkey that has been built in the shape of the Bolshoi Theatre."

Have I missed anything?

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I'm not his biggest fan, but he, like everyone else, is welcome to his opinion, and he's prominent enough to be quoted early and often. Clearly he has issues with Bolshoi management and the new theater.

He's not the only dancer to criticize the renovation, although his description is a better sound bite: Bolshoi Soloist Anastasia Meskova was profiled in "Hemispheres" Magazine and was quoted as saying: “The old building saw so many things. It’s no longer a place I know,” she sniffs. “I feel like they knocked down a cathedral and put up cardboard.”

(This feature article about the renovation is an interesting read.)

I honestly don't think that Tsikaridze is the only dancer at the Bolshoi who doesn't think hiring David Hallberg is a good idea.

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I'm sure he likes the attention and the platform, but there's a famous story about Margot Fonteyn. The gist was that she often wanted what other dancers wanted, but she would sit back and let them make the suggestions and requests. Most of the time, her bases were covered, but other people were seen as making demands. The few times that no one else raised her issue, she would ask, and because she rarely asked for anything, she was seen as cooperative and undemanding, and they did everything they could to accommodate her.

Generally, what I've seen quoted by him I might find misguided, and I might disagree, or, heavens, roll my eyes, but he rarely says something that I can't imagine others believing, and I'm sure they're happy that he's the one whose neck is sticking out.

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I'm still suspicious about the new floor ... I wish someone would quote the dancers saying it is marvelously sprung...

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And 'm very inclined to believe his claims about the bronze being substituded by plastic moldings covered in gold paint. Our Art Deco disctrict in South Beach contains many examples of buildings having been totally knocked down and substituded with replicas made of plaster due to the so called "inabilities to acomodate modern high tech. fixtures into the old infrastructure". They look beautiful, yes, to the non expert eye, but if one got to see the original, and then the process of substitution, then one feel as being lied about it. You KNOW that you're not seeing the real thing...

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Tsiskaridze is a tireless self-promoter. During the last few years, he has been regularly appearing on various entertainment shows and talk shows on Russian TV---excerpts of his appearances are abundant on youtube. He has been on "Pozner", on "School for Scandal", on "Temporarily Available", on "Here and Now", on "Personal Things", on "Devchata", on "Russian Century", on "In Your House", on "Our Favorite Animals", etc, etc, etc.

Most of his interviews have two components: (1) how great he is and (2) how terrible is whoever is his villain of the day. The villains of the day are usually the administration of the Bolshoi or other dancers. During Ratmansky's tenure practically every Tsiskaridze's interview (and there were a lot!) had really nasty ad hominem attacks against Ratmansky.

Based on this context, what he is saying about David Hallberg is not surprising at all. If history is any indication, he is going to continue and he is going to be relentless. Mr. Hallberg should fasten his seatbelt for a tough ride.

While some of Tsiskaridze's opinions on the reconstruction and other issues may have merit, the history of his public statements makes it difficult to take anything he says seriously.

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Perhaps it is time for him to direct a regional company... Having to handle orher peoples' issues in order to pull off a season can be very civilizing...

... On second thought... He's just cultivating his celebrity... Not a bad thing career-wise for a dancer his age... It will be harder and harder for his dancing to garner the same attention. He knows just what gets media attention (and good manners don't qualify). It's a given Hallberg would be attacked, an outsider entering a closed competitive institution. (Hallberg can't be the first star to ever be attacked at the Bolshoi, only the first American). Probably it is better that it is Tsiskaridze doing the attacking as it puts Hallberg in some stellar company.

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Perhaps it is time for him to direct a regional company...

I could be wrong - so please anyone correct me if I am - but wasn't Tsiskaridze dropping hints that he would have liked to have considered for the position of Artistic Director for the Bolshoi during the last crisis when the AD left the company early this year before Sergei Filin was given the job?

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I found it telling that he chose to perform
Diamonds
with Lopatkina at the Marinsky, at this time (i.e., regular season rather than his usual appearances durig the spring or summer festivals). Perhaps he is angling for a move up north? For sure, he is "send a message."

With Fadeev's recent departure and the long-term absenteeism of Zelensky -- who directs the Stanislavsky in Moscow --
and
impending absenteeism of Matvienko -- who is about to become AD of the Ukraine Natl troupe, there will be a big gap in the male Principals rank. Vladimir Schklyarov and the aging Korsuntsev & Ivanchenko cannot carry the rep all by themselves.

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There's a good interview, six minutes in, with Nikolay Tsiskaridze in part three of the documentary The creation of the Ballet Miséricorde, not unsympathetic - along with an interesting take on Christopher Wheeldon's wavering creative process.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgtSo9Q-zYo&feature=related

This New York Review piece - which may have been posted elsewhere already - may corroborate some of NT's criticisms. An interchange with the equisitely refined Vladimir Jurowski:

http://www.nybooks.c...ois-latest-act/

Russia’s current prime minister and future president, Vladimir Putin, was not in attendance. No one in Moscow was surprised. Apparently Medvedev had moved up the date of the theater’s reopening to ensure that it took place during his administration, even though the renovation is not entirely finished. During rehearsals for the first opera production a few days later, the conductor Vladimir Jurowski was busy listening to the pinewood interior of his new hall, trying to refine its sound. Jurowski, elegant and enchanting on the podium, is hugely in demand throughout Europe and North America, and the Bolshoi worked hard to secure his services at the helm of its orchestra. He did not conduct the gala (the task fell to Vassily Sinaisky) but was in the audience. I asked him about the acoustics in the czar’s loge, where he sat by request of Bolshoi Theater administrators. “Terrible,” he replied. “And they put me behind Medvedev.”

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Oh, that's a 'classic,' Quiggin!

Rock, Yuri Smekalov could & should be promoted to Principal at the MT. He is versatile and can dance 'noble' roles, in addition to his forte or character-type dramatic roles, such as the comic 'gentleman of the chamber' in Little Humpbacked Horse. I'm a little afraid that he & Ilya Kuznetsov might languish in 'Perpetual 1st-soloist Land' because of 'emploi.' Ditto the versatile Alexander Sergeev, who can dance both a Prince and the monster in Shurale. Versatility can be a curse in Russian companies -- "once a grotesque, always a grotesque," some seem to think.

p.s. Poor Smekalov isn't even a 1st soloist; he was hired as 2nd soloist...even though he was, for years, the Principal of the Eifman Ballet, even winning the Golden Mask award for best male ballet performance in Russia, for The Seagull. He was Spartacus at the Mikhailovsky & the Jacobson Ballet companies.It's almost insulting that he is but a 2nd soloist.

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Allow me here and now to take another take on this matter: Tsikaridze's. In his defense-(because I believe everyone has the right to be heard)- I somehow understand where he comes from. The Bolshoi is one of those companies, like the Cuban National Ballet, that has always had a good stream of output, but never the reverse process. Cold war and enclosed tradition has fed this practice, for sure. I remember one time, during the late 90's, there was one ballerina from Spain, Laura Hormigon, who was invited to guest in Havana. There was such a bad vibe all around. She never had a fan base. She was resented as an intruder foreigner taking away opportunities she didn't deserve from nationals in starring roles...she was pronounced an outcast and it was the rigoeur to criticize her performances at its most...the harshest the better. I can mange the resentment within the ranks of the company, and the poor thing never had the opportunity to be analyzed with a fair impartial eye. Miss Hormigon ended up leaving in a midst of controversy. Of course, ALL the factors I just mentioned might not present in Hallberg's case, but at least there's one I'm sure is present: resentment, and maybe not only from Tsikaridze.

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....Of course, ALL the factors I just mentioned might not present in Hallberg's case, but at least there's one I'm sure is present: resentment, and maybe not only from Tsikaridze.

Thanks for the cold-water splash to reality, cubanmiamiboy. I can imagine, except that he (Hallberg) seems so genuinely nice. So much of the potential success of Hallberg in this Bolshoi Venture depends on his own personality. If others can see that he is devoid of arrogance & only wishes to enhance the troupe -- meaning enhancing everyone -- by his very presence, then he may be able to pull-off the unthinkable & truly become a member of the company.

During yesterday's live screening, I couldn't help but notice, while all dancers were rehearsing on the stage before curtain-up on Act 2, how Hallberg went up to Ovcharenko (the bluebird) in the distance, offering some quick friendly words. The body language was very positive. I thought 'What a nice attitude!'

Vishneva ran into resentment when Ratmansky tried to take her into the Bolshoi company, albeit as a 'guest' at the beginning. I'm sure that some are resentful of Obraztsova's 'guest principal' status at the Bolshoi & her recent success as Kitri. It's not just Russia; I'm sure that corps dancers everywhere feel resentful whenever management brings-in principals or soloists from other companies or countries.

Not just dancers - it's the situation in all walks of life. Anybody who has been brought into an organization at a high rank, ahead of people who have worked at that organization for years, has to be very diplomatic to maneouvre the inevitable mine field of resentment from those who were not promoted into the job. Now think of Hallberg's situation - not just a new company, but 'the' company in another country, where most people speak another language. My hat's off to David Hallberg, truly. And I know how painful it must be for Tsiskaridze and other long-time Bolshoi dancers. Nobody is 'the enemy'; it's sad that Tsiskaridze sometimes choses to run-off his mouth.

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I know he can often be diva-like with his behavior but usually I find his complaints stem from somewhere. In the Mesericordes docu posted above, Wheeldon was woefully underprepared for dealing with the Bolshoi system, and while Tsiskarizde's methods are questionable the problem he is rebelling against is certainly not made up.

Similarly, he criticized the management a few years ago for passing over established ballerinas for younger dancers for everything, and made it a point to invite those who were on "the outs" with management to partner him. I think because we are not used to a dancer airing dirty laundry he gets a bad rap, but at least he's honest about his feelings and can back up it with his dancing. I don't know, I've always liked him despite, and perhaps because of, all of this.

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Oh, that's a 'classic,' Quiggin!

Rock, Yuri Smekalov could & should be promoted to Principal at the MT. He is versatile and can dance 'noble' roles, in addition to his forte or character-type dramatic roles, such as the comic 'gentleman of the chamber' in Little Humpbacked Horse. I'm a little afraid that he & Ilya Kuznetsov might languish in 'Perpetual 1st-soloist Land' because of 'emploi.' Ditto the versatile Alexander Sergeev, who can dance both a Prince and the monster in Shurale. Versatility can be a curse in Russian companies -- "once a grotesque, always a grotesque," some seem to think.

p.s. Poor Smekalov isn't even a 1st soloist; he was hired as 2nd soloist...even though he was, for years, the Principal of the Eifman Ballet, even winning the Golden Mask award for best male ballet performance in Russia, for The Seagull. He was Spartacus at the Mikhailovsky & the Jacobson Ballet companies.It's almost insulting that he is but a 2nd soloist.

Exactly. One of the major problems at the Mariinsky is not only the soloist traffic jam in the 1st & 2nd ranks (male and female), but

the languishing of transplants who were principals in other theatres, and are "slumming" now. For example, the Matvienki (Denis and wife Nastya - they're leaving), Nastya Kolegova (left the Mik as a Principal, mainly been relegated to occaisional O/Os, and hardly ever tours with the " 'A' Team"), and Y. Smelakov, a Golden Mask winner from the Eifman Ballet. There are others who are part of the what I call the Mariinsky Soubrette Army that make up the majority of females in the 1st and 2nd soloist ranks. There are also certain others in the 1st and 2nd rank (and the female Principal rank) whose time has passed. Re the men, Sergeyev and Smelakov deserve promotion, and like Natalia mentioned, Volodya Shklyarov, Danny Korsuntsev and Yevchushenko cannot dance every night or "do" everything.

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I know he can often be diva-like with his behavior but usually I find his complaints stem from somewhere. In the Mesericordes docu posted above, Wheeldon was woefully underprepared for dealing with the Bolshoi system, and while Tsiskarizde's methods are questionable the problem he is rebelling against is certainly not made up.

Similarly, he criticized the management a few years ago for passing over established ballerinas for younger dancers for everything, and made it a point to invite those who were on "the outs" with management to partner him. I think because we are not used to a dancer airing dirty laundry he gets a bad rap, but at least he's honest about his feelings and can back up it with his dancing. I don't know, I've always liked him despite, and perhaps because of, all of this.

All that is true and I often wish there were more dancers prepared to take a stand. I respect him a great deal for his championing of Grachova and Stepanenko. I'm very much of the same mind as ksk04 and Cubanmiamiboy.

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What Tsiskaridze did at the Mariinsky last week -- partnering Lopatkina -- is in tune with his championing of older star ballerinas at the Bolshoi, i.e., Gracheva (who has since moved on to coaching) and Stepanenko (who lingers on). He has always had a lot of respect for seniority & tradition, which is commendable. I remember his face when talking about Marina Semenova or other greats of the past, on Kultura-channel interviews. It's a shame that he sometimes comes across as El Divo because it tends to take away from his good qualities.

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I wouldn't mind seeing a fiery artistic director with passion at the Bolshoi... Seems the company's style would be in tune with this... A bureaucrat might be the worst type to direct a company like the Bolshoi.

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Definitely, Natasha. The main difference I see between Hallberg and the example I mentioned is that Hallberg GENUINELY has star qualities, dancing wise speaking. Miss Hormgon, on the contrary, didn't, and that certainly added fire to the resentment.

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Tsiskaridze reminds me physically of a beloved cousin -- although my cousin's hair doesn't need gel or any other help to do what NT's does -- so it's hard for me to hold a grudge for very long. When I take issue with him, it's because his idea of tradition stops at 2.5 generations back, not that this is surprising in an art form passed down across generations, and the "grandparents" are the prominent ones during schooling.

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I know this is in the wrong place, but I seem to be on the Bolshoi thing so much these days reading about Osipova and Vasiliev's departure - and I wanted to say to everyone that although I realize it can never replace the real thing - a live performance - I'm very grateful for Youtube and the vast scope of what you can see. Last night I watched Uliana Lopatkina do the variation from Paquita over and over. I was mesmerized. I thought it was extraordinary. The port de bras, the epaulement, chainee turns in 5th - which I don't think I've ever seen before. Then I watched Alina Somova do the same variation - because it was right there - and I thought she was a very good dancer, but the difference was so informative. It was the difference between good dancing and great dancing. I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to see all those things, and very grateful to this site for the opportunity to see worldwide reviews every day. I think it's great.

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^^ I totally agree, Rock!

I am also learning so much through this discussion and of course this forum in its entirety. (whatever DID we do before there was internet and all these fantastic opportunities to exchange thoughts and ideas with others from around the globe?)

Back to topic: Tsiskaridze is a very interesting character, and I wish I had known more about him earlier.

It takes a lot of chutzpah to challenge the establishment, esp. in such an established establishment as these huge state theatres can be.

Good for him if he is in fact speaking out in behalf of others, too, and not only to further his own cause.

-d-

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:^D I don't think Tsiskaridze could ever be considered to be lacking in chutzpah!! Chutzpah is his specialty!!!

(I'm agreeing with you, in case it seems otherwise)

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