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Is Svetlana Lunkina moving to Toronto?


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#31 Jayne

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:30 PM

I'm not familiar with NBC's dancer union, but I think Karen Kain is treading lightly here. We'll see, it may be possible to hire her on a 1 year contract as a "guest artist", which is how many dancers get introduced to companies at the soloist or principal level. Alternatively, NBC may be able to develop an exchange program with the Bolshoi - where they send a dancer to Moscow for a year, in exchange for the services of Mrs. Lunkina. It would be a unique opportunity for a Canadian dancer to get some Bolshoi coaching.

#32 pherank

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Posted 12 June 2013 - 09:46 PM

The quote indicates Ms. Kain is sensitive to taking away another principal woman's opportunity - who has paid her dues at NBC. Plus there is the issue of work visas - how many foreign artists does NBC already have on board? While this may not be important to balletomanes, it can be very important to politicians.

I'm not familiar with NBC's dancer union, but I think Karen Kain is treading lightly here. We'll see, it may be possible to hire her on a 1 year contract as a "guest artist", which is how many dancers get introduced to companies at the soloist or principal level. Alternatively, NBC may be able to develop an exchange program with the Bolshoi - where they send a dancer to Moscow for a year, in exchange for the services of Mrs. Lunkina. It would be a unique opportunity for a Canadian dancer to get some Bolshoi coaching.


I totally understand the need to look after the existing dancers, but this is a rare opportunity, and there seems little sense to just let it slip away with various predictable excuses. Where there's a WILL, there's a way - as you mention with the "guest artist" arrangements. Sounds like they would need to add some extra performances to their schedule to make it workable (so no existing principals lose their performance time).

#33 volcanohunter

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 03:36 PM

Svetlana Lunkina unleashes on Sergei Filin. It's a quick and dirty translation, so my apologies.

 

 

In July the 237th season of the Bolshoi Theater will come to an end, during which the ballet troupe suffered a record loss of personnel at the highest level. Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin, the victim of an acid attack in January, is fighting for every percent of his vision. Leading soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, accused of organizing the attack on the artistic director, is in detention center #2, known as "Butyrka," awaiting trial. On June 30 the contracts of troupe manager Ruslan Pronin and principal dancer and the teacher Nikolai Tsiskaridze will expire, and the administration has decided to go without their services in the next season. And prima ballerina Svetlana Lunkina, owing to fears for herself and her family, is forced to stay far away from Russia. An "Izvestia" correspondent called the Honored Artist of Russia in Canada to ask what she thinks about the situation in the theater, where she has worked since 1997.

 

- Do you keep in touch with the artists of the Bolshoi?

- I communicate with my sister Yulia (Yulia Lunkina, Bolshoi soloist. - "Izvestia"), with Ruslan Skvortsov, with my coach Nadezhda Gracheva. Some artists who see my pictures on the internet wish me luck. We worked together for many years, so we sympathize with and support each other.

- Has anyone from the Bolshoi administration called you?

- No one has called even once during the year of my absence from the theater. I am on leave until the start of the season. Then I have to write an application to extend my leave or submit my resignation. It’s already the end of June, the season is ending. But no one has asked about my decision. This is an indicator of civil relations towards artists. More precisely, their complete absence at the Bolshoi Theater.

- That the dismissed Nikolai Tsiskaridze is a wonderful dancer is known to many viewers. And what is he like as a teacher? Did you attend his class?

- I cannot say that I attended regularly as some did, but I did attend. I have a wonderful relationship with Nikolai. We talked on the phone after I left, shared our problems, talked a lot about the Bolshoi. Unfortunately, our theater does not like people who have a mind and an opinion. He's the sort who can come at a time when a dancer is much admired and say, "I do not think it's wonderful. Sorry, such dancing has no place at the Bolshoi Theater." Artists and teachers who speak this way are squeezed out of the Bolshoi. Because some people have great difficulty dealing with such criticism.

 

- The situation of employees, in general, is dependent on the position of leadership. Judging from the situation in the Bolshoi Ballet, this position is highly flawed. For example, is it true that certain dancers selected by the administration are imposed on visiting choreographers?

- This has been said by many who’ve worked at the Bolshoi. Work on productions takes place in several stages. The choreographer first arrives 2-3 months, sometimes six months before the premiere. He looks over the troupe and makes a list of dancers with whom he will continue during his next visit. If it is an existing production, after the casting is in place assistants will come and work with the artists selected by the choreographer. But when the assistants arrive at the Bolshoi they are confronted with a virtually new list, where twenty percent of the people were not approved by the choreographer. But in order to accommodate these dancers, others with whom the choreographer had wanted to work, but whom the artistic director or someone else did not want to see in the production, have to be eliminated.

- How do the choreographers themselves react to these changes?

- Some protested. That happened most recently with Mats Ek (the illustrious Swedish choreographer who staged his ballet “Apartment” at the Bolshoi Theater. - "Izvestia"). His wife and assistant Ana Laguna accompanied him to the audition. They approved cast lists. But when Laguna arrived later without Mats Ek and saw who came to the rehearsal, she said, "Who are these people and where have they come from?" Then she was asked to look at these new dancers. She agreed, but then said: "Don’t bring these people back again: the ballet does not suit them." But not all the assistants can put the leadership in its place and say, my work requires this particular artist. No one knows better than the choreographer how well a dancer is suited to his work. The artistic director cannot see it. But, unfortunately, at our theater it is considered normal to impose views on choreographers. This shows a lack of respect for the masters who come to work at the Bolshoi.

 

- Did Wayne McGregor, who was to stage "The Rite of Spring," refuse to work because of such administrative missteps?

- For visiting choreographers working at the Bolshoi is stressful. Because of this there are refusals. The attitude of the managers and all those involved in organization creates huge problems for their work in the theater. The dancers were weeping when they found out that Wayne would not be doing "The Rite of Spring" with them. And Mr. McGregor told me himself in Toronto that artists such as those at the Bolshoi are to be found nowhere else. This could have been a step into the future for the Bolshoi. For me it was a shock that we are so careless and do not value such projects.

- Recently, the list of participants for the London tour was finalized.  Is it very different from the initial list, which had also included you?

- Artists told me a few days ago that Maria Alexandrova (prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater. - "Izvestia”) found out that she will not be dancing in "The Sleeping Beauty." Although it was announced in the posters. And those who have signed a letter in support of Pavel Dmitrichenko were removed from the lists. Maria Allash (prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater. - "Izvestia”), as I understand, was removed entirely. All this shows that for artistic director Sergei Filin it is not important how well the troupe will perform in London. He needs to impose his position. He has no right to splatter his emotions on the troupe and the artists. He must first of all look after the interests of the troupe, and not his own, and think about the quality of the performances. This is London, after all.

- Do you know anything about cases of improper behavior by the company management toward artists and employees of the theater?

- After meetings with Sergei Filin artists told me that he uses horrible expressions, can blackmail relatives working in the theater. For example, he said, "If you will not do what I want, I will not give work to your son," etc. He behaved this way as a matter of course. But I myself was not placed in such a situation.

 

- At his last interrogation Pavel Dmitrichenko spoke about the conflict between Sergei Filin and head of the ballet office Veronika Sanadze. Do you know anything about this?

- Sergei Filin brought his team to the Bolshoi and was looking for positions for these people. So he wanted to remove Veronika Sanadze. She worked at the theater for many years. When three choreographers came at once to stage productions, she told Filin, this could break the troupe, and the choreographers will be in a panic because they won’t have artists with whom to rehearse. For these observations he ordered her to write a letter of resignation. She was crying, she didn’t know what to do. She loves the Bolshoi, she cares about the fate of the theater and the ballet. Of course the company stood up for her. Everyone understood that if Filin put his person in that position, then everything would be done in his own interests. Artists will be forced to work as much as he wants. The team persuaded Veronika not to submit her resignation. We sent the appropriate letter to Iksanov, so she stayed in the theater. Sergei Filin retreated. But I think he stepped back in order to take another step forward, more forcefully: if Filin has decided to do something, it will accomplished by any means necessary.

- Did artists also have problems with the artistic director?

- Sergei brought to the Bolshoi dancers with whom wanted to work, in whom he was interested and for whom he had plans. He began to pressure artists with whom he had worked previously, ballerinas, with whom he had once danced: put pressure on them, deprived them of performances, of the classical repertoire. Some ballerinas went without a ballet for 2-3 months. Although it is stipulated that we should have at least one ballet a month. Filin would promise to give them roles. But it turned out that his words were meaningless. It is good to give work to new dancers. But this should not be the top priority. An artist with experience of working with different ballet masters has much to offer when working with new choreographers.

 

- Sergei Filin’s advisor Dilyara Timergazina participates in the life of the troupe?

- She’s everywhere. I am told that she is present at all rehearsals, expresses her opinion that this person is dancing well, another - badly, discusses this with Filin. Many of these are genuine artists, who have been at the theater for many years, worked with great teachers such as Ekaterina Maximova and Tatyana Golikova, and they do not understand how this can be. Filin's adviser can come to a rehearsal of the ballet "Diamonds" and decide whose sleeves should be cut off, because they “don’t suit.” For me, Masha Alexandrova, Maria Allash, Elena Andrienko, Nadya Gracheva this provincial bad taste was a great shock. It's the Bolshoi Theater! She has no right to interfere in artistic matters; she has her own job. How can this person decide whether she likes a ballerina or not? She is not Ulanova or Semionova and has no right to tell the artistic director which artist is dancing better and which is dancing worse.

 

- Let's return to your art. What are your immediate plans?

- They are very extensive. In the first place to work with choreographers – with some whom I met earlier, and with new names for me. For example, there should be interesting work with a very young choreographer, I won’t name him yet; I was introduced to him by Wayne McGregor. There are interesting projects related not only to ballet: New York is close by, creative life is bustling there. I just returned from there; I went to exhibitions, talked to photographers, architects, visual artists. My life is now different: not sitting between four walls from morning to night, as usually happens in the theater. I meet new people, with some we find common interests and begin working on joint projects. What is happening now is much closer to me in character and to my inner relation to creativity.

 

- Are you planning to settle down with any ballet company?

- For now I cannot say exactly what my next step will be. I still need time to decide on the announcement of my plans. But I think it will be soon. I will definitely work in a troupe. Because you need a home - a place that is close to your heart, which you will remember all your life. I have always worked in the Bolshoi. I have very dear memories of working with choreographers, with Ekaterina Sergeevna Maximova, the troupe. Today I also want to have a place, a troupe, people dear to me, interaction with whom I would cherish and for whose sake I would keep working. I'm not a person who can be in four theaters at once. I think it is impossible to completely surrender one’s soul to several teams.

http://izvestia.ru/news/552486



#34 pherank

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 04:11 PM

Svetlana Lunkina unleases on Sergei Filin. It's a quick and dirty translation, so my apologies.

 

 

Well, that was interesting, to say the least. Thanks very much, Volcanohunter. The more I read, the more the Bolshoi seems like a furious tangle of interests: self-interests, and politics (actually involving the government). So many egos, visions, and fragile artistic personalities in collision. Really, the POB seems like a rather dull sanitarium compared to this.

 

Every point Lunkina makes probably has 5 sides to it. Which doesn't make her assertions untrue, but it's all in the viewpoint.



#35 ballet_n00b

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 07:49 PM

After reading this, I get the feeling that the Bolshoi is a very hostile place for "outsiders'' and extremely resistant to change.

It makes me worried for Obraztsova et al should Filin have to step down.

While I admire Lunkina greatly as an artist, I've kinda lost some respect for her as a person after reading this interview;

if you're going to make such serious allegations, you need to back it up with more than just hearsay.



#36 pherank

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:07 PM

if you're going to make such serious allegations, you need to back it up with more than just hearsay.

 

To be fair to Lunkina, it's awfully difficult to "prove" your conversations with friends and associates. And how sad that we live in a world in which we seem to need to. She's not a reporter, or a lawyer, but she may be forced by circumstances to live like one.



#37 volcanohunter

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 08:12 PM

She probably believed she needed to speak because Bolshoi dancers are prohibited from talking to reporters without the theater's permission, and if they were to say anything critical, they would risk being slapped with a formal reprimand à la Tsiskaridze. I'm sure she didn't do it lightly. She has family members within the company to consider.

 

 

After reading this, I get the feeling that the Bolshoi is a very hostile place for "outsiders'' and extremely resistant to change.

 

You know, I can understand why they feel threatened. Since Sergei Filin took over in March 2011, the Bolshoi has lost an excessively large number of principal dancers: Vladimir Neporozhny, Yuri Klevtsov, Andrei Uvarov, Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, Dmitry Belogolovtsev, Svetlana Lunkina (de facto), Galina Stepanenko and Nikolai Tsiskaridze. If the departures of Neporozhny, Klevtsov, Uvarov, Belogolovtsev, Stepanenko and even Tsiskaridze can be attributed to age, the others cannot. To lose one or two principals may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose that many looks like something quite different. I couldn't really blame the "native" Bolshoi dancers for feeling like they're under siege, their own being hounded out of their home theater and ready to be replaced by outsiders.



#38 Drew

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:09 PM

She probably believed she needed to speak because Bolshoi dancers are prohibited from talking to reporters without the theater's permission, and if they were to say anything critical, they would risk being slapped with a formal reprimand à la Tsiskaridze. I'm sure she didn't do it lightly. She has family members within the company to consider.

 

 

After reading this, I get the feeling that the Bolshoi is a very hostile place for "outsiders'' and extremely resistant to change.

 

You know, I can understand why they feel threatened. Since Sergei Filin took over in March 2011, the Bolshoi has lost an excessively large number of principal dancers: Vladimir Neporozhny, Andrei Uvarov, Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, Dmitry Belogolovtsev, Svetlana Lunkina (de facto), Galina Stepanenko and Nikolai Tsiskaridze. If the departures of Neporozhny, Uvarov, Belogolovtsev, Stepanenko and even Tsiskaridze can be attributed to age, the others cannot. To lose one or two principals may be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose that many looks like something quite different. I couldn't really blame the "native" Bolshoi dancers for feeling like they're under siege, their own being hounded out of their home theater and ready to be replaced by outsiders.

 

Thank you for the translation. A very interesting interview.

 

You mention departures of five of the eight dancers you name being attributable to age (or, in Tsiskaridze's case partly attributable to age). A sixth is Lunkina herself, and the main reason for her departure--at least as she has represented it--has nothing to do with Filin however much she may not like him. I assume you mean it was not necessary to lose so many senior artists at once, but this list by itself does not prove that much to me about Filin. Osipova/Vasiliev are an engaged couple and partnership who departed as a pair and seem to me quite a special case.  A huge loss for the Bolshoi, but in the age of traveling superstars, it is not hard to believe it would have been very difficult to keep them without granting them so much freedom they almost might as well have departed. (And, indeed, they are appearing with the company now and then as it is.)

 

Outsiders? The Bolshoi historically has taken some of its greatest ballerinas (Ulanova, Semenyaka) from the Kirov-Mariinsky. Does anyone really think Filin should NOT have invited Obratzova, especially after Osipova's departure? I should have thought that from an artistic and reputational point of view it was rather a stroke of genius. Likewise grabbing Smirnova --by all evidence one of the greatest young talents in the world today. That these decisions ruffled some feathers is understandable. But as best I can tell (and writing just as a fan) it's Fateyev not Filin who should be embarassed about these events.

 

Is Filin above criticism?  I don't believe it for an instant and it may happen that some of the uglier stories about him will turn out to be true. Who knows? I wouldn't be shocked--though I also wouldn't be shocked if they don't turn out to have any substance beyond dancers' frustrations. (I'm also not sure that anyone can run the Bolshoi these days without being so tough that it virtually amounts to having an ugly streak--Ratmansky's word was "cesspool" wasn't it?--and that would indeed be a sad state of affairs.) Yet, at this moment, as Filin is virtually blind, with all that entails for his professional and personal life--and under intense medical treatment in Germany with his future entirely uncertain it seems an unfortunate moment to launch yet another verbal attack on him...and has the unfortunate even if unintended effect of implying that he brought his suffering on himself. The problems at the Bolshoi obviously extend far beyond any one individual in any case.

 

Of course, she has the right to give any interview she wishes--not suggesting otherwise. And I very much hope she does find a company to call home and is able to enter into creative projects whether in Canada or the U.S.



#39 volcanohunter

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:21 PM

Ratmansky's word was "cesspool" wasn't it?

 

No, this was a mistranslation. His criticism was directed at a "disgusting claque," but I can see how "claque" and "cloaque" may have gotten confused in French. The subordinate clause that followed said "cultivating friendships with artists," which is certainly consistent with a claque, but not a cesspool.

 

As for dancer retirements, I think the feeling was that Uvarov, Belogolovtsev and Tsiskaridze were being pushed out prematurely and against their will.



#40 Drew

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:36 PM

Thanks for the correction on "claque/cloaque"--actually a rather appropriate convergence in some cases!--but I still think one has to be preternaturally tough to run such a company...

 

Dancer retirements are a hard issue for any company to confront, and obviously age alone is not what did in Tsiskaridze (though again, I'm not much inclined to blame Filin in that case)...Lunkina's personal loyalties to dancers are understandable and in some ways appealing, but when one looks at the quality of the Bolshoi under Filin, it's hard not to feel he has been doing a lot of things right...

 

(The cancellation of the McGregor that she discusses, as if blaming Filin, also does not seem to me something that can be laid at his door--whatever casting shenanigans take place in the Bolshoi when outside choreographers are involved;  it happened in the wake of the acid attack and by all evidence would not have happened otherwise.)



#41 Jayne

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 09:45 PM

I am very surprised that Maria Alexandrova and Maria Allash have been removed from London roles.  Both have been featured on the cinematic broadcasts, the tour to Australia, etc.  Neither one was grandstanding in favor of Dimitrichenko.  Either something else is behind the casting decisions, or the Bolshoi is truly turning against itself in a sort of paranoid civil war. 

 

I think Ms Lunkina makes some interesting points about Veronika Sanadze - I do understand that any new manager wants to bring in his "own people" for key roles.  In politics there is a clear delineation between civil service jobs and political appointments.  But it doesn't seem that Ms. Sanadze was expected to resign of her own accord when the new administration started.  Still, I think this happens at ballet companies all over the world - people in key positions are forced out (not always right away) to make way for the AD's own people.

 

I have no way of knowing if the descriptions of Ms Timergazina are legitimate, or conjecture by paranoid dancers who weren't getting cast very often.   Again, this can happen at any artistic organization:  the new AD casts the people who fit his own tastes.

 

At any rate, Ms Lunkina clearly spoke about this knowing she has no path to return to the Bolshoi at this point.  I really hope she can get some sort of position with a Canadian company.  If not, I'm sure there are European companies with better funding who could find a place for her.  



#42 Drew

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Posted 24 June 2013 - 10:47 PM

Sort of off topic but...the last time the Bolshoi was in London (under Burlaka, not Filin) there was also shuffling of casts in the weeks leading up to the tour and Alexandrova was taken out of Coppelia altogether. This was a major new production being brought to London for the first time, and she was initially supposed to dance it and then she wasn't. The change of casts did open up an opportunity for the company to show off Stashkevich who, to the surprise of some at least, was very, very good. In the meanwhile Alexandrova danced other leading roles and -- of course -- received raves.

 

Many fans were critical of the decision to take her out of Coppelia--or at least disappointed with it. I  myself had bought tickets to see her and was very sorry not to get to do so. Who knows what the reasons were? I heard rumors that had to do with ballerina infighting not union organizing, but at any rate it can hardly have been Filin's doing as he wasn't with the company.

 

I would guess that anyone who has bought tickets to see the Bolshoi on tour in the last three decades (at least) can tell similar stories.  Shuffling casts much to the irritation of fans--and I daresay dancers--in the months and weeks leading up to a tour, seems to be standard operating procedure. Ditto the Mariinsky. Heck the Bolshoi has changed ballets on ticket holders. Politics involved? Could be...sure. But certainly nothing new.

 

In the meanwhile: Alexandrova IS dancing major ballerina roles in London--and will doubtless get rave reviews! Lucky London.



#43 Mashinka

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 02:28 AM

While I admire Lunkina greatly as an artist, I've kinda lost some respect for her as a person after reading this interview;

if you're going to make such serious allegations, you need to back it up with more than just hearsay.

 

And I have just developed much more respect for her than ever before.  Bravo Sveta, tell the truth and shame the devil.



#44 Alayna

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:53 AM

"Bravo Sveta, tell the truth and shame the devil."

 

 

And how do you know it's the truth?  I for one don't believe that every word spoken against Sergei Filin is the gospel truth and would like to hear his side of the story. To me, this is just one more in a series of attacks against a gravely injured man who's fighting to regain his health and is not in the position to defend himself. Talk about kicking someone when they're down. 

 

As for Wayne McGregor - if I recall correctly wasn't it his decision to cancel his version of The Rites of Spring because he wanted to wait until Filin had recovered so they could work on it together? 



#45 Mashinka

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Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:58 AM

As your every post on this forum has been as an apologist for Filin, you are hardly unbiased, are you?




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