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Mariinsky Open Letter to Minister of Culture


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#16 sandik

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Posted 04 December 2012 - 09:06 PM

"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?"

"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"

I have no insider knowledge of the K-M, but in general nuances in casting (who gets what) tend to shift more quickly and more often than employment status and/or rank. In most companies I know, people are often cast "outside their rank" depending on their current status with their director, and the needs of the moment.

#17 Catherine

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:26 AM

I have no insider knowledge of the K-M, but in general nuances in casting (who gets what) tend to shift more quickly and more often than employment status and/or rank. In most companies I know, people are often cast "outside their rank" depending on their current status with their director, and the needs of the moment.


Exactly.

There is more news this morning, I can barely keep up with it. I will add the latest articles and try to translate/summarize.
First a meeting between the dancers and the company took place -- announced 20 minutes before the actual meeting, therefore attendance was limited, in which Gergiev spoke to the troupe. He said he would try to find housing for the dancers. The Rosbalt article suggests that while that is a great thing, the dancers were hoping for a concrete solution to the labour issues (and probably not just housing)
That article is here:
http://www.rosbalt.r...tion_ref_map=[]


[font=Arial, sans-serif]It suggests that Gergiev promised to meet the artists again on Dec. 25th by which point, sources say, an answer from Moscow should be available to the dancers.[/font]

[font=Arial, sans-serif]"As you recall, the ProfSoyuz of the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky turned to the Minister of Culture of the RF Vladimir Medinsky with a request to check the financial activity of the institution and the observance of legislation by the Mariinsky administration. [...]Gergiev later announced that the artists' concerns were understandable but not supported by any official dialogue "Even on the level of the ProfSoyuz, there has been no concrete conversation. Daria Pavlenko and a couple of dancers came to see me. Ten years ago Pavlenko was among those whose names were celebrated inside the Mariinsky Theatre. Today it's difficult to speak kof her with such certainty. Maybe her lesser employment today compared to those years disturbs her," Gergiev said.[/font]

Then Gergiev says that the majority of the artists' concerns is linked with not having a place to live [Note: opinion not fact] And then he says that needs to be discussed not by means of a letter but with the governor/president. I dont handle that."


[font=Arial, sans-serif]Pavlenko pointed out that Gergiev had not addressed a single point in the letter they sent to the Culture Minister.[/font]
[font=Arial, sans-serif]:[/font]http://www.rosbalt.r...tion_ref_map=[]

The other article I think I posted previously as it's date is rather old but I repost - as it mentions the $500/mo starting salary for corps members:
http://www.rosbalt.r...13/1057766.html

#18 Cygnet

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:41 AM

[size=4]I'm ITA with Catherine's posts re the internal workings of the company.[/size] [size=4] Alleged violations of the Labor Code should be investigated if there’s a hint of fraud. I don’t doubt that government benefits (i.e. maternity leave funds, money paid under the table, pay to dance scams - etc.) have been misappropriated to certain people and not others. The question is can it be proven and is there tangible evidence of it. The Mariinsky receives State support. Plus it’s the nation’s “second” theatre - not some provincial backwater opera house in the steppes of Siberia. Why hasn't the Minister of Culture responded yet? Another question I have is where are the other Principals like Lopatkina, Korsuntsev (i.e. those who actually "matter" -> theoretically) on this? [/size]

[font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif][size=4]Perhaps Mr. Medinsky has already been “tackled” or reeled in by the Mariinsky management i.e. long before this development. Or perhaps he’s dealing with the grievance du jour, (you know, 'one mess at a time,' - for example [/size][/font][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif][size=4]Kolya Tsiskaridze’s latest run in with the Bolshoi Theatre and “his” open [proxied?] letter signed by Bolshoi Opera greats a few weeks ago). That letter was almost immediately disavowed by some of them who later claimed 'functional illiteracy' at time of signing. Kolya Tsiskaridze may or may not be behind the latest Iksanov brouhaha; he hasn’t publicly denied it in the Russian media. But Dasha and Dmitri aren’t trying to start a Theatre coup d’etat. They're aiming to help bring about a decent living, casting and humane professional conditions for the members of the Mariinsky Ballet. Gergiev said (at least, what I understood of his reply), was that since the entire company hadn’t met or signed on to the letter, the complaints were not to be taken (too) seriously. It's "not his job" to address grievances; i[/size][/font][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif][size=4]t's the Ministry of Culture's responsibility. [/size][/font]

[font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]If he really feels that way, maybe the Maestro shouldn’t be running the entire enterprise (brand) any longer? Maybe he's overwhelmed with his enormous workload? He runs the Mariinsky Theatre, he's music director of the LSO and umpteen other orchestras too numerous to mention here. He runs musical festivals all over the Federation and throughout the world. He’s shown where his expertise lies and it’s not the ballet. In other words, he may (now) need an “Iksanov” type to be appointed as General Manager and Director of the Mariinsky Theatre to be his boss, and let him concentrate fully on the music and the singers just like he has always done. It occurs to me that he might be more attentive to the dancers' letter if they were also singing and/or playing an instrument under his baton. Obviously, Fateev should be ousted and an active and exhaustive search for an Artistic Director should begin immediately. To my mind, the Maestro has been either: 1) Too busy jet setting, conducting, collecting medals, doctorates and awards, and/or 2) too lazy to launch a meaningful and serious search for his ballet company. The company needs this position to be opened, posted for qualified applicants and filled yesterday. [/font][/size][/size][/font][/size][/font][font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif][size=4]I hope that Mr. Medinsky reviews the letter as soon as possible (by Dec. 25), makes the inquiries, conducts the investigation and, if necessary, takes the appropriate action(s) that will favor the dancers, and make their lives more tolerable. All of the above is [/size][/font][/size][/size][/font][/size][/font][font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][font=Arial', 'sans-serif][size=2][size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]MO.[/font][/size][/size][/font][/size][/font]

[font=Arial, sans-serif]As you recall, the ProfSoyuz of the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky turned to the Minister of Culture of the RF Vladimir Medinsky with a request to check the financial activity of the institution and the observance of legislation by the Mariinsky administration. [...]Gergiev later announced that the artists' concerns were understandable but not supported by any official dialogue "Even on the level of the ProfSoyuz, there has been no concrete conversation. Daria Pavlenko and a couple of dancers came to see me. Ten years ago Pavlenko was among those whose names were celebrated inside the Mariinsky Theatre. Today it's difficult to speak of her with such certainty. Maybe her lesser employment today compared to those years disturbs her," Gergiev said.[/font]

[size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]Really Posted Image? [/font][/size][size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif]I won't even bother to address the Maestro's statement re Daria Pavlenko.[/font][/size]


[size=4][font=arial, helvetica, sans-serif] [/font][/size]

#19 Catherine

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:30 AM

Why the Minister hasn't replied yet-- unfortunately I don't know, and possibly the dancers do not know either. It sounds like with this most recent meeting the wagon wheels are beginning to turn, so hopefully the suggestion of the Dec 25th meeting means between now and then (20 days) something will be addressed or decided or at least a process begun. One would presume that time span will allow for meeting with the Minister (by Gergiev, or by the ProfSoyuz representatives). We can hope.

As for the principals -- I venture a guess that time plays a part in two ways. First, since they typically dance less frequently than the rest of the troupe, if they're not guesting, they have perhaps fewer rehearsals (I"m not saying they do not rehearse - but the load and focus is different). Corps members can be on stage every night of the week in the MT, in both operas and ballets, learning the new order of steps in yet another opera (or ballet) or filling in for someone who is sick/injured, and that after a full day of rehearsals. Remember - there are no union rules there, so no required breaks, no cut off at 6 p.m. and so forth. Fewer rehearsals means they (principals) can leave the theatre when they're not obligated to be there. They also have fewer performances than someone in the corps (you will never see Lopatkina, for example, dance 6 nights in a row, it just doesn't happen at this point in her career). This results in two things: in the case of Nioradze and Makhalina -- still on the list of principals -- they may never even be in the theatre aside from class (and in some cases, not even ever for class) if they're not performing. For the "active" principals, they will be there fewer hours (perhaps but not necessarily) than some corps members.

Also they have security of salary and rank and in most cases state titles...so the issues addressed in the list of Labor Code violations may not affect them to the same degree as it affects newer, younger dancers. They aren't competing for roles (they already have them) and they aren't trying to climb the ladder (they've already climbed).

The other factor is the "don't rock the boat" approach which many dancers -- in fact most Russians who I know -- still adopt. The idea of confronting authority is not well established in those raised during the Soviet years. (Lopatkina for example, was directly coached by Dudinskaya, lets not forget) It makes even me nervous to think of signing a petition for better conditions when the history of the theatre is such that people who didnt' do what the authorities liked were ushered out of the theatre -- starting with Konstantin Sergeyev himself along with Dudinskaya. If you knew or saw that happen, or heard of it, would you really try to "improve" things? (Granted he wasnt trying to change the system but the authorities did not like him for a number of reasons and he was removed by them) It takes courage for certain, because this path of reform is not well established in Russian culture or history and certainly not in theatre administration either. There is a precedent for...disaster... and there are many who by nature in Russia wont feel comfortable going down that road.

#20 Natalia

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 02:40 PM

[size=4]....[/size][size=4] Alleged violations of the Labor Code should be investigated if there’s a hint of fraud. I don’t doubt that government benefits (i.e. materinity leave funds, money paid under the table, pay to dance scams - etc.) have been misappropriated to certain people and not others. The question is can it be proven and is there tangible evidence of it. ....[/size]


The Mariinsky management is accused of playing even with Maternity Leave funds? Gee, I wonder ....consider the possibilities.....awwww, I'll just shush-up & let the facts come to light.

Seriously, these are horrendous allegations.

ITA with Cygnet re. Gergiev's petty comment on Pavlenko. I would have expected tha from Fateev, not Gergiev, who doesn't seem to know or care much about the ballet troupe. Perhaps Gergiev was given "talking points" to simply read before the cameras?

#21 Catherine

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:05 PM

The comment about Pavlenko was a low blow -it was made initially in one of the early Rosbalt articles around Nov. 25th ish, and just repeated in this one. It is clearly aimed at dismissing the issue as a personal gripe of hers, which could not be further from the truth. It demonstrates how dismissive the initial reaction was to this attempt -by a group of dancers not by Pavlenko herself- to rectify some problems. I dont get the idea the Soyuz is attacking the theatre, but it could be seen that way given how it has gone to press instead of being addressed internally... a snowball effect in a way...

#22 Tiara

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 03:12 PM


.... Alleged violations of the Labor Code should be investigated if there’s a hint of fraud. I don’t doubt that government benefits (i.e. materinity leave funds, money paid under the table, pay to dance scams - etc.) have been misappropriated to certain people and not others. The question is can it be proven and is there tangible evidence of it. ....


The Mariinsky management is accused of playing even with Maternity Leave funds? Gee, I wonder ....consider the possibilities.....awwww, I'll just shush-up & let the facts come to light.

Seriously, these are horrendous allegations.

ITA with Cygnet re. Gergiev's petty comment on Pavlenko. I would have expected tha from Fateev, not Gergiev, who doesn't seem to know or care much about the ballet troupe. Perhaps Gergiev was given "talking points" to simply read before the cameras?

ITA also. I am not a Pavlenko fan, but as the spokesperson for the dancers she had the right to be treated with respect, and Gergiev's comments about her were not just petty, but deliberately humiliating. However, whether or not he cares - and plainly he doesn't - by showing such disrespect of a dancer and dismissing the concerns of the company , he is only showing himself in his true, unpleasant colours. His remarks are a disgrace; the way in which he has allowed Mariinsky Ballet to be mismanaged even more so. I can only hope that the ball has now started rolling and all the allegations and rightful grievances voiced by the dancers will finally be addressed. This situation has been going on for far too long.

#23 Drew

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 04:29 PM



.... Alleged violations of the Labor Code should be investigated if there’s a hint of fraud. I don’t doubt that government benefits (i.e. materinity leave funds, money paid under the table, pay to dance scams - etc.) have been misappropriated to certain people and not others. The question is can it be proven and is there tangible evidence of it. ....


The Mariinsky management is accused of playing even with Maternity Leave funds? Gee, I wonder ....consider the possibilities.....awwww, I'll just shush-up & let the facts come to light.

Seriously, these are horrendous allegations.

ITA with Cygnet re. Gergiev's petty comment on Pavlenko. I would have expected tha from Fateev, not Gergiev, who doesn't seem to know or care much about the ballet troupe. Perhaps Gergiev was given "talking points" to simply read before the cameras?

ITA also. I am not a Pavlenko fan, but as the spokesperson for the dancers she had the right to be treated with respect, and Gergiev's comments about her were not just petty, but deliberately humiliating. However, whether or not he cares - and plainly he doesn't - by showing such disrespect of a dancer and dismissing the concerns of the company , he is only showing himself in his true, unpleasant colours. His remarks are a disgrace; the way in which he has allowed Mariinsky Ballet to be mismanaged even more so. I can only hope that the ball has now started rolling and all the allegations and rightful grievances voiced by the dancers will finally be addressed. This situation has been going on for far too long.


I was really disgusted by the Pavlenko comment -- and I have no opinion about her as a dancer at all and did very much enjoy the one time I heard Gergiev conduct and believe him to be a great musician.

It is more dignified to ignore it, but I'm not that dignified. In a way, the comment convinced me (more than a 100 videos of Somova or Skorik with twisted torsos ever could) that there are fundamental problems with the way things are being run at the Mariinsky.

Do I exaggerate? Perhaps...perhaps not. When the top guy talks that way, something is wrong.

#24 Ilya

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 10:36 PM

The entire system at the Mariinsky is rotten to the core. The top guy has an enormous conflict of interest. As the AD of the opera, he should be (and is!) interested in putting all the resources and effort into the opera and the orchestra. But as the GM of the entire company, he is supposed to pay attention to the ballet and opera companies in equal measure---perhaps more attention to the ballet which I suspect brings in more revenue. And clearly he does not. Knowing all this, no high-caliber ballet administrator or choreographer in his/her right mind would ever accept an offer to become the AD of the ballet. So trying to conduct a search for a ballet AD, as was proposed above, is doomed to failure in the current circumstances. Mariinsky Ballet's only hope is for Gergiev to resign or be dismissed from the position of the General Manager, or for the ballet to separate from the opera and become a stand-alone company. Neither one of these two scenarios is likely to happen, unfortunately.

#25 amiaow

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Posted 05 December 2012 - 11:25 PM

Catherine, I read with interest that Nioradze and Makhalina were not permitted to be in the theater if they were not in class or performing. Why on earth is this so?

I have seen Makhalina's name on the roster a couple of times recently which came as a surprise to me, but in my brief history of following MT I have never seen Nioradze dance. Was there some dispute? Or are they considered too old to perform now?

#26 Natalia

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 05:46 AM

I'll let Catherine give the definitive answer (or try as best she can) but my observations have been that, for the past 4-5 years, Nioradze has been living in Great Britain with her family and only returns (maybe) once a year to headline her own 'vanity-project' gala, e.g., a couple of years ago, her gala included the premiere of a new one-act ballet, Sapphires, intended to become the 4th act of Jewels. (Huh???)

Some principals are kept on the Mariinsky roster just for contractual or political reasons, as it will allow them to continue to claim that they are Mariinsky principals. It's a wink-wink understanding with the theater's management. For example, Igor Zelensky has remained a nominal MT principal, even though he has, for years, been the A.D. of different large Russian ballet troupes -- first Novossibirsk and, since last year, the Stanislavsky of Moscow.

Makhalina -- who dances Aegina in Spartacus this week at the Mariinsky! -- can claim that she is still a Mariinsky Principal when she does her guest stints on Russian-TV 'Dancing With the Stars'-type shows.

I don't think that the 'veterans' remain as nominal Principals for the money. Most (all?) are independently wealthy through marriages &/or private business ventures. It's more about prestige - both for the dancer and the theater. These are 'names' after all. Finally, maybe one or more of these individuals - or their wealthy spouses - actually PAY to be kept on the roster?

#27 Catherine

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 08:21 AM

Catherine, I read with interest that Nioradze and Makhalina were not permitted to be in the theater if they were not in class or performing. Why on earth is this so?

I have seen Makhalina's name on the roster a couple of times recently which came as a surprise to me, but in my brief history of following MT I have never seen Nioradze dance. Was there some dispute? Or are they considered too old to perform now?


No - I never said "not permitted" to be in the theatre. I said unlikely to be, because dancers (at any level) tend to not just "Hang out" if they're not involved -- they would go home for much needed rest. In the case of Makhalina and Nioradze they are both officially on the roster (payroll) but almost never perform, ie almost never are cast. I think the last time I saw Makhalina was in a short acting piece this past spring. I dont believe I saw Nioradze in all of 2011 or noticed her being cast.

Edited to add: Just read Natalya's post above and agree with all of it - not sure about the final comment but the rest I agree with. Zelensky is a great example, he's listed as a principal but doesn't perform on the Mariinsky stage (hasn't in several years). It's like a symbolic ranking, not an active one - same with Nioradze and yes, she's in London most of the time.

#28 Cygnet

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 09:48 AM

The entire system at the Mariinsky is rotten to the core. The top guy has an enormous conflict of interest. As the AD of the opera, he should be (and is!) interested in putting all the resources and effort into the opera and the orchestra. But as the GM of the entire company, he is supposed to pay attention to the ballet and opera companies in equal measure---perhaps more attention to the ballet which I suspect brings in more revenue. And clearly he does not. .... Mariinsky Ballet's only hope is for Gergiev to resign or be dismissed from the position of the General Manager, or for the ballet to separate from the opera and become a stand-alone company. Neither one of these two scenarios is likely to happen, unfortunately...

It's a very sad situation because Yuri Fateev is 'yes' man to Maestro Gergiev. The former ballet Director, (Makhar Vaziev) challenged Gergiev and wasn't a 'yes' man. When Vaziev went to La Scala, Fateev was the Maestro's interim replacement. Therefore, this arrangement has been mutually beneficial, because it frees the Maestro to concentrate on the Opera, Orchestra, and all of his international etc. Fateev has carte blanche to run the Ballet any way he chooses - tempered of course with Maestro's implicit approval.

Knowing all this, no high-caliber ballet administrator or choreographer in his/her right mind would ever accept an offer to become the AD of the ballet. So trying to conduct a search for a ballet AD, as was proposed above, is doomed to failure in the current circumstances.

Too true. Let's suppose for a moment that Gergiev opened the position: Who would dare forward their CV?
Who? Mariinsky, or even Vaganova Academy personnel who might be interested, wouldn't dare submit an
application. Consider this: Misha Messerer, who is local, is a person who would be a highly qualified applicant,
(assuming the post was open and he wanted it). Well, he just renewed his contract as Head Ballet Master with the
Mikhailovsky to 2015. Under Vladimir Kehkman and AD Nacho Duato's leadership, the Mik has emphasized Duato's
works (modern dance) over classical ballet. Cela le dit tous.

#29 Catherine

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:01 PM

I have nothing to add Posted Image

#30 sandik

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Posted 06 December 2012 - 04:05 PM

Zelensky is a great example, he's listed as a principal but doesn't perform on the Mariinsky stage (hasn't in several years). It's like a symbolic ranking, not an active one - same with Nioradze and yes, she's in London most of the time.


This is not exclusive to the M-K -- NYCB kept dancers on their official roll call long after they really were a part of the performing ensemble, and other companies have done the same, for varying reasons.


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