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Mariinsky Open Letter to Minister of Culture


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#1 Catherine

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Posted 03 December 2012 - 02:29 PM

It was suggested to me to post this again here to open up discussion. In short this issue has been going on since May of 2012 and has heated up considerably in the Russian press in the past 3 weeks.
Daria Pavlenko and Dmitry Piikhachev, as representatives of the dancer's union, met with Gergiev in May this year (just after the troupe appointed Daria to that position) to address issues of casting, salary, repertoire, etc. The issues were not addressed and subsequently three dancers (Pavlenko, Piikhachev and one other) sent an open letter (that was published in the newspaper) to the Minister of Culture requesting he address a list of Labor Code violations. That prompted a series of articles in the press, and also a *press release* response to the letter.
Pavlenko then emphasized that she was asking the Ministry of Culture to look into the violations before addressing them internally with the Theatre's administration.
Here is the latest English language summary which skips over about 90% of what has happened (it's hard to summarize it all in one article) but the crux of it is here:

http://sptimes.ru/in...story_id=36603

I have maintained a log of the previous articles/ publications on this issue here:

http://www.ballet-da...hp?f=31&t=36477

#2 Mashinka

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:16 AM

I had reservations over aspects of Vaziev's tenure, the promotion of Somova for starters, but the company has simply fallen off a cliff since Fateev took over. Looks like their grubby little secrets are seeing the light of day at last and that can only be a good thing in the long run.

#3 Natalia

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 05:22 AM

Absolutely, Mashinka. It was also interesting that, in this article, the MT's press representative, Oksana Tokranova, is quoted as saying that Keenan Kampa (USA) and Kim Kimin (S. Korea) are soloists (along with Xander Parish of the UK, who is at the Choryphee level). I suppose that Tokranova means that they are being given soloist-level roles (which is true)...but, last time that I checked both the Russian and English-language rosters of the company, Kampa is Corps de Ballet and Kimin is Trainee (not even corps de ballet). The rosters were published well into the current season (early October); it could be that this letter and concerns of the dancers' union may be why Kampa, in the end, was listed as corps & Kimin remains 'trainee'?

I am also wondering what may be the unofficial role of foreign tour sponsors, like Ardani/Kings of Dance, in the casting and opportunities for promotion? Yuri Fateev is, after all, a co-producer of Kings of Dance (as cited in his bio on the Kennedy Center playbill for two seasons in a row)...meaning a possible financial tie with Ardani, the main producers of Kings of Dance. One would hope that Fateev's role in tours does not influence the possibilities/fate of his dancers back home, i.e., that a perceptionof Western Aesthetics does not influence promotion of dancers who, for example, may not have the 'long legs' that Russians THINK the West wants to see.

It's all very interesting. 'Bravi' to Daria Pavlenko, Dmitri Pykhachev, and others who are the leading the Dancers' Union and calling for a government investigation.

#4 naomikage

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 06:31 AM

Kim Kimin is now listed as First Soloist on the English roaster. http://www.mariinsky...dancers2/kimin/

#5 Cygnet

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 07:55 AM

This open letter and the Theatre's and Maestro Gergiev's replies confirm everything that's been going on. I've been waiting for something like this to happen. I'm ecstatic that the dancers finally went public. It's about time!

#6 Tara

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:08 AM

Now this is seriously interesting! Please do keep us updated and thank you for adding the English version, translating can take forever and doesn't always come out so well.

Very happy to see Kimin finally get promoted and have a official status that is compatible with his performance and partnering ability/ responsibilities.

I shall be on pins and needles to see how this new development plays out.

#7 Natalia

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:13 AM

Kim Kimin is now listed as First Soloist on the English roaster. http://www.mariinsky...dancers2/kimin/


WOW - a record promotion from Trainee to First Soloist in one fell swoop. He is absolutely fantastic, from what I've seen. This must have just happened today, as I printed the roster just yesterday and it still showed him as Trainee. CONGRATS!!!

Pavlenko's inclusion in the October 2012 Kennedy Center tour of CINDERELLA is all the more miraculous in the context of what we now know as her leadership of the Dancers' Union and this letter/complaint. Somova - who danced CINDERELLA with Sergeev (Pavlenko's husband) in her debut last April - was replaced by Pavlenko for this tour because of Somova's pregnancy. The Mariinsky had no rcourse but to have to send Pavlenko to Washington, DC. It is amazing how things turn out sometimes!

#8 bingham

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:14 AM

This open letter and the Theatre's and Maestro Gergiev's replies confirm everything that's been going on. I've been waiting for something like this to happen. I'm ecstatic that the dancers finally went public: It's about time!

I hope this does not affects Daria's return to more principal roles in the company.


#9 Natalia

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:22 AM

Bingham, she HAS been dancing quite a lot at home of late...but 'harem pants' roles as inScheherazade and Fountains...not Odette-Odile and other classical roles that should be hers, now that she is absolutely fit and slender, even more slender than her pre-pregnancy days. And her interpretive (dramatic) powers are stronger than ever. So she is being thrown a few carrots and, miraculously, was allowed to perform Cinderella twice in DC, although some would argue that giving her 3rd Cast and the Saturday matinee was an insult of sorts, compared to novice Shirinkina getting opening night (reviews) + Saturday night + closing performance (and being asked to substitute the injured Osmolkina on Friday night)...the newbee danced 4 performances vs. 2 for Pavlenko, and those 2 Pavlenko performances were in the less-desirable spots.

#10 bingham

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 12:41 PM

Bingham, she HAS been dancing quite a lot at home of late...but 'harem pants' roles as inScheherazade and Fountains...not Odette-Odile and other classical roles that should be hers, now that she is absolutely fit and slender, even more slender than her pre-pregnancy days. And her interpretive (dramatic) powers are stronger than ever. So she is being thrown a few carrots and, miraculously, was allowed to perform Cinderella twice in DC, although some would argue that giving her 3rd Cast and the Saturday matinee was an insult of sorts, compared to novice Shirinkina getting opening night (reviews) + Saturday night + closing performance (and being asked to substitute the injured Osmolkina on Friday night)...the newbee danced 4 performances vs. 2 for Pavlenko, and those 2 Pavlenko performances were in the less-desirable spots.

She deserves O/O, Nikiya,Diamonds and her other famous roles.

#11 leonid17

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:01 PM

Absolutely, Mashinka. It was also interesting that, in this article, the MT's press representative, Oksana Tokranova, is quoted as saying that Keenan Kampa (USA) and Kim Kimin (S. Korea) are soloists (along with Xander Parish of the UK, who is at the Choryphee level). I suppose that Tokranova means that they are being given soloist-level roles (which is true)...but, last time that I checked both the Russian and English-language rosters of the company, Kampa is Corps de Ballet and Kimin is Trainee (not even corps de ballet). The rosters were published well into the current season (early October); it could be that this letter and concerns of the dancers' union may be why Kampa, in the end, was listed as corps & Kimin remains 'trainee'?

I am also wondering what may be the unofficial role of foreign tour sponsors, like Ardani/Kings of Dance, in the casting and opportunities for promotion? Yuri Fateev is, after all, a co-producer of Kings of Dance (as cited in his bio on the Kennedy Center playbill for two seasons in a row)...meaning a possible financial tie with Ardani, the main producers of Kings of Dance. One would hope that Fateev's role in tours does not influence the possibilities/fate of his dancers back home, i.e., that a perceptionof Western Aesthetics does not influence promotion of dancers who, for example, may not have the 'long legs' that Russians THINK the West wants to see.

It's all very interesting. 'Bravi' to Daria Pavlenko, Dmitri Pykhachev, and others who are the leading the Dancers' Union and calling for a government investigation.


Thank you for posting this information.

#12 Natalia

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 02:30 PM

Leonid, I appreciate your words but, lest we forget, it was Catherine who brought this general situation to light. The rest of us can wonder and ask hypothetical qs based on bits of knowledge.

Bingham, I totally agree with your list of roles that Daria Pavlenko deserves NOW.

#13 Catherine

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 03:29 PM

Absolutely, Mashinka. It was also interesting that, in this article, the MT's press representative, Oksana Tokranova, is quoted as saying that Keenan Kampa (USA) and Kim Kimin (S. Korea) are soloists (along with Xander Parish of the UK, who is at the Choryphee level). I suppose that Tokranova means that they are being given soloist-level roles (which is true)...but, last time that I checked both the Russian and English-language rosters of the company, Kampa is Corps de Ballet and Kimin is Trainee (not even corps de ballet). The rosters were published well into the current season (early October); it could be that this letter and concerns of the dancers' union may be why Kampa, in the end, was listed as corps & Kimin remains 'trainee'?

I am also wondering what may be the unofficial role of foreign tour sponsors, like Ardani/Kings of Dance, in the casting and opportunities for promotion? Yuri Fateev is, after all, a co-producer of Kings of Dance (as cited in his bio on the Kennedy Center playbill for two seasons in a row)...meaning a possible financial tie with Ardani, the main producers of Kings of Dance. One would hope that Fateev's role in tours does not influence the possibilities/fate of his dancers back home, i.e., that a perceptionof Western Aesthetics does not influence promotion of dancers who, for example, may not have the 'long legs' that Russians THINK the West wants to see.

It's all very interesting. 'Bravi' to Daria Pavlenko, Dmitri Pykhachev, and others who are the leading the Dancers' Union and calling for a government investigation.


(I share your "bravi" to the courage of Dasha and Dmitry for addressing this in such a black hole of communication. While it should not threaten their internal standing, that nonetheless is always a risk...)

I would not split hairs over categorization in ranking. Inside the company, there are only two salary rates: soloist and everyone else. Then within those categories salaries are individualized. There is more discussion in the West, than in Petersburg, about what rank a given dancer has -- "is she in the corps? Is she a first soloist? Is she a coryphee?" Internally that is not such an issue as it is here -- and as I think I noted before and others have also noticed, the Western program rankings on some tours may bear no relationship to the dancer's actual ranking inside the company. When I interviewed Fateyev this June, he said Kampa had been hired as a coryphee. But she's listed as a Principal or soloist on tour and a corps de ballet member on the website -- none of that matters really except how she's viewed internally by him in comparison to the other dancers (which also dictates salary levels at least for the Russians) as that will also determine what roles she's given, if they give her a personal pedagogue (none, as of October, that I"m aware of) and so forth. In any case this issue with the labor code violations began well before Kampa joined the company and before Kimin was promoted... As Pavlenko pointed out, the Law was created in 1986 and that country no longer exists, therefore the law should be updated as a start.

Regarding foreign sponsors, Ardani as I understand doesn't sponsor the company -- they just arrange the appearances. (I speak of, for example, the annual Kennedy Ctr stop, or this year's West Coast tour). Others may sponsor individual productions (new premieres) or tours, such as Mr. Takahashi.

I haven't seen the the Kings of the Dance written programs -- if it's true what you say Natalya then yes, that's a mutual working relationship between Fateyev and Ardani for that program.

#14 Ilya

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:06 PM

I would not split hairs over categorization in ranking. Inside the company, there are only two salary rates: soloist and everyone else. Then within those categories salaries are individualized. There is more discussion in the West, than in Petersburg, about what rank a given dancer has -- "is she in the corps? Is she a first soloist? Is she a coryphee?" Internally that is not such an issue as it is here -- and as I think I noted before and others have also noticed, the Western program rankings on some tours may bear no relationship to the dancer's actual ranking inside the company. When I interviewed Fateyev this June, he said Kampa had been hired as a coryphee. But she's listed as a Principal or soloist on tour and a corps de ballet member on the website -- none of that matters really except how she's viewed internally by him in comparison to the other dancers (which also dictates salary levels at least for the Russians) as that will also determine what roles she's given, if they give her a personal pedagogue (none, as of October, that I"m aware of) and so forth.


The dancers seem to be well aware of the five rankings from the website. For example, Tereshkina recites them in this interview (around 3:15): http://www.1tvnet.ru...e-balerini.html, and lists some privileges that come with the rank of prima ballerina---specifically, being able to dance only the leads.

Are you saying that Fateyev personally decides individual salary levels, roles, teacher assignments, etc, without any regard for the ranks posted on the website? If so, it seems like a recipe for disaster. What's the point then of having these ranks?

As to the incredible promotion of Kim Kimin from trainee to first soloist just at the time when the article and the company's response to it started receiving some publicity---I'm sure that's simply a coincidence. Posted Image

#15 Catherine

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 08:19 PM

Yes obviously the principals are at another level. But to differentiate between first soloist second soloist and coryphee, when they often all interchange the same roles -- my point was that this is given more focus in the West than it is there.
As soon as a dancer achieves "principal" status -- and obtains a title of state (honored artist, for example) there are a slew of additional awards and privileges that come with it -- that is a fact and that sets them apart greatly from the others in the company/companies in question. Honored artists, or People's Artists, for example, receive monetary awards. Those are not just state honors, there is financial compensation involved as well.

No, Fateyev is not the only one who decides individual salary levels or rankings. I never wrote that he was.

He and others in the company don't pay much attention to the website though.


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