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Volochkova Pickets Bolshoi


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Anastasia Volochkova picketed the Bolshoi Theater before a performance of Swan Lake in which she was supposed to have appeared. She claims the company has fired her.

Miss Volochkova claimed that she had been subjected to a months-long campaign by shadowy enemies who broke into her dressing room and detained her dancing partner in hospital to try to prevent her appearing.

In one interview with the radio station Ekho Moskvy, she said: "I was simply blown away by the way they treated me."

The Bolshoi claims that Miss Volchkova has not been sacked but flew into a rage and stormed out when she was offered only a three-month contract. It says all the theatre's ballet dancers were offered the same deal, a claim Miss Volochkova has fiercely denied.

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From what I observed at her performance style at the Kennedy Center last season (very gaudy, very "new Russian"--ridiculously glittery tutu, lots of jewelry (!!!!)...), and from comments from one of my friends in Moscow, I'd be inclined to believe the theater's version of events more than Volochkova's.

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Volochkova is not your typical ballerina.

She would thrive in Hollywood, thoroughly partaking and enjoying the celebrity stunts that keep one's name in the news, including plastic surgery, which she knows a little about.

She wants more out of life than the usual Bolshoi (or any) ballerina strives for and is busy going about getting it. Ballet is but a stepping-stone for her. A life in ballet is not her goal.

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can't answer that one, but here's a link to some photos.


The last time I saw her was last spring, and while she's certainly not underweight, she's also not, to my eyes, either heavy nor especially tall -- she's considerably shorter than the partner under discussion. Whether or not she's easy to dance with is another matter of course! (My guess on height is 5'6; I'm terrible at guessing weights.)

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Alexandra, my companion and I saw her then after the performance, in a restaurant in the Watergate. She may be 5'6," but I doubt that she's a millimeter taller than that. And I agree that while she was no willow, she did not look beefy by any means.

She was dining alone, chatting away in English on her cell phone. :shhh: :)

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Here's an interesting article from 2 years ago that gives insight into Volochkova's persona:

Anastasia Volochkova's privately produced ballet evenings are as close to vanity publishing as dance gets....

Volochkova 2001 article

And another tabloid-type story from 3 years ago:

In pre-season headlines too lurid to have been manufactured by even the most desperate publicity department, the lofty Russian ballerina has been accused of using her bewitching powers to break up the marriage of a London lawyer, Anthony ("Andy") Kerman, vice-chairman of the ENB's school.
Volochkova 2000 article

The article above also alludes to her height:

She is exceptionally tall. Perversely for a ballerina, she accentuates her height by wearing high heels. "If God gave me height, I want to stress it, to show it. I don't want to hide it."

In the "Review and Commentary by Jeannie Szoradi" of the BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) performances of the Vaganova Academy/Kirov on Feb. 28, 1998, 7:30 p.m., there is another height reference:

Anastasia Volochkova - a tall and drop-dead gorgeous "Las Vegas Showgirl" ballerina, very much in the style of Yulia Makhalina

In the article linked to in Alexandra's thread-opener, this line appears:

Almost all of Russia's leading male dancers have refused to partner her, complaining that, at 6ft tall, she is too big and heavy.

Is that 6 feet on or off pointe? Her frequent partner Ivanchenko is a very tall dancer, so it's hard to tell.

And, if you will allow me one more reference:

The excellent Volochkova more than made up for any lack of sparks among her colleagues. Some ballerinas are beautiful, some are refined and enchanting, but this one has that most unusual quality: sex appeal. Ladies, if you want your husbands to stop complaining about going to the ballet, bring them this week. (She dances every performance.)

Broad-shouldered and tall, with striking features, Volochkova is more Amazon than artist, but her technical strength is undeniable. (Was that a triple lutz thrown in somewhere?) Evgeny Ivanchenko, also tall and brandishing an equally superior air, was the perfect match for her. He is the biggest man I have ever seen to have such a broad, silent and easy jump.

This is from a performance of half a year ago in Washington, reviewed by Sarah Kaufman in the Washington Post. Here's the URL:

Volochkova 2003 article

I have a hard time picturing her as Giselle, especially given the more than dozen photos of her in the role! :)

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From what I observed at her performance style at the Kennedy Center last season (very gaudy, very "new Russian"--ridiculously glittery tutu, lots of jewelry (!!!!)...)

Sarah Kaufman in the Washington Post explains what happened at the Kennedy Center with the costumes:

Why did Volochkova wear fairy-princess yellow in a role that calls for blood red? I am told that her red tutu got lost en route from Moscow. Urgent appeals went out to anyone nearby with a tutu to spare, and both ABT and the Washington Ballet offered up alternatives. None was quite right, however, so a Bolshoi corps dancer's costume was altered to fit the star (perhaps this explains the rather heavily applied sparkles), and the corps was dressed in hastily spruced-up practice tutus.

It takes a lot for a ballerina to step onstage in the wrong frock, but Volochkova proved that her will, her heart and her ego are just as strong as her technique.

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Well, judging from the photos, she's certainly not as chunky as most of the ballerinas originating the roles she's dancing... but if she's close to 6 feet on pointe then she probably does weigh more (most ballerinas were pretty short prior to 1950 as far as I can tell). I don't know, they always made a big deal of how tall Cynthia Gregory was and how hard it was to get her a partner, and I think she's not 5'7"... times have changed. I think she looks beautiful... very much like a person and not like a waif... I think people who have a hard time relating to ballet because the women don't look like "real women" would find her appealing. She looks like a woman dancing, not a dancer dancing, if you know what I mean.

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There's another story about this today in The Guardian:

Top dancer a heavy burden for the Bolshoi

Anastasia Volochkova, Russia's most loved and loathed ballerina, has sparked a bitter row with the prestigious Bolshoi theatre following the reported hospitalisation of her male dancing partner, whom industry sources have said was injured lifting her "overweight" frame.


Volochkova, whose lithe figure has adorned many style magazines and billboards as well as theatre stages, is a taller and heavier ballerina than traditionalists allow. Petite male dancers can be damaged by propelling her frame through ballet's demanding dance moves, they say.

Amy, I thought of Gregory, too, although she wasn't at all flamboyant and the stories about her search for a partner were much more sympathetic, casting her as a forelorn Princess searching for the perfect Prince. I saw her off-stage several times and thought she looked like a fashion model -- tall, striking and quite thin. But onstage, especially in a tutu, she looked like a giant -- basically because everybody else on stage, sometimes including her partner, was 3 to 5 inches shorter!

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The soap opera continues. :nopity:

The thought crossed my mind that maybe Ms. Volochkova has a valid point. Do the Bolshoi men undertake the same kind of conditioning that American men do? If Ivanchenko is truly injured, is it the "fault" of his ballerina, himself, or perhaps his coach? :shrug: Or is the real issue Ms. Volochkova's personality? :wink: American ballet has many female dancers who are taller and heavier do very well problems having/keeping partners. Kyra Nichols is just one example.

As for La Gregory, I rode the crosstown bus with her once, where both of us were holding onto a bar considerably higher than waist-level. I am 5'6", and I will second Mel's estimate of 5'8".

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She's at least 5'8". I stood between her and Eddie Villella once in class, so I know she's taller than I am, and I'm 5'7".

I've never met her in person, but I saw her height printed once as 5'6" & 3/4. I remember it very clearly because I was shocked that it was such a fuss. (being 5'10" myself). (BTW, I also didn't think Suzanne Farrell seemed as tall as she looked in photos when I met her in person.) Mel, am I right in guessing that you were plenty tall for a dancer? I remember Royes Fernandez telling me that at 5'8" he was considered the "tall man" at ABT. Times have changed, haven't they... now we hear more complaints of young dancers being told they're too short to have a career. But you know, just as men tend to add an inch to their height, women tend to cut one off... so perhaps it was taken from some publicity material.

She is exceptionally tall. Perversely for a ballerina, she accentuates her height by wearing high heels. "If God gave me height, I want to stress it, to show it. I don't want to hide it."

I don't know, if a tall woman with long legs wearing high heels is perverse, then merely wearing high heels for other than "corrective" purposes is perverse.

She's right. God gave her gorgeous legs, she shouldn't insult the gift by making them look ugly in flats. Tall women often are encouraged by society to feel that there's something wrong with being a tall woman and so avoid anything that might make them look taller. They should be disabused of this notion! Tall women tend to have great looking legs, and should be encouraged to not to hide them. [Yes, I am over compensating for being a gawky teenager; it took Jacques d'Amboise & the milieu of tall dancers he chose to finally disabuse me of the "flats" notion].

You'd think at the "Bolshoi", they'd want them "big" for heavens sake!

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Mel, am I right in guessing that you were plenty tall for a dancer?  I remember Royes Fernandez telling me that at 5'8" he was considered the "tall man" at ABT.  Times have changed, haven't they...

Nope, I was considered "uncorpsable" at 5'7". I came up in the Balanchine-Frenzy era, when tall was de rigeur. Royes was always an optimist.

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I think that Volochkova is not worth all the fuss raised about her these days in the press and television and really regret the fact . (It also seems to me that western journalists dramatize this situation, since they are less informed than ours and seem to believe all the crap she tells them. Sorry. :shrug: ) Volochkova was never considered here in Moscow (at least by balletomanes and critics) to be the first rank ballerina, the “pride of the Bolshoi” etc., etc. Her publicity was created by numerous glamour magazines and yellow news-papers (mostly heavily paid), supported by TV-shows, bill-boards of her personal concerts, which may be described by single word “kitch”. And this publicity had nothing to do with her “art”. All serious, sometimes even harsh, critics (and there was a lot!) Volochkova explained by jealousy to her glamorous international career (where – do you know that planet?) and unearthly beauty. (Well, she is a beautiful woman, but it is some other profession). Unfortunately, she had one, but weighty argument against critic – she was chosen by Grigorovich himself (!) to dance the opening night of his old-new “Swan Lake”and on these grounds resumed her contract with the Bolshoi, terminated during Fadeechev times (he was the only one to have the guts to stand against the pushy ballerina and her “sponsors”).Well, I do not want to sound harsh, but I am sure that considerable money was involved to make this choice, as well as to be honored later the “Benois de la Dance” Prize. This scandal - when the audience in the Bolshoi whistled and wooed during the ceremony, protesting to such decision, – was covered by many papers in the spring 2002 . I have never seen before such an obstruction. These past years Volochkova had nothing to complain, since she had more performances than any of our prima-ballerinas. And there were situations when she demanded (and got!) the performances scheduled for others. It’s also true that our male-dancers didn’t want to dance with her. For example Uvarov (the tallest in the company) was injured after dancing with her in Italy. Ivanchenko managed for a while, risking his health and reputation not only for legal honoraria ( sorry to sound gossipy, but c’est la vie in today’s Russia).

Now, if we speak of Volochkova as a dancer, here’s my personal opinion. Her main problem is not the height or the weight (she certainly put on considerable amount in the past year or two) and as a result the loss of required dancing abilities. The problem is that she does not understand what she is dancing about, all her emotions being utterly artificial. The only sincere feeling she manages to demonstrate is self- admiring. I’ve seen her Giselle. That was, I think, 6 years ago, when she was still a promising young dancer. The ghost of the poor deceived peasant girl was so aggressive and arrogant that it seemed, that Mirtha with the whole stock of willis will be simply trampled.

I am sure that she was fully aware of the fact, that Ivanchenko decided to leave Bolshoi ( we, balletomanes, knew that in July). But for the moment she gains more from this scandal than looses. She is supported by two pro- governmental political parties, which had intentions to use her in the coming election company. After that I won’t be surprised if she gets money and facilities to open, for example, her own dance theatre, or something of the sort :wink: . And last, but not the least: as a rule Russian people are very pitiful towards those who are “unfairly chased”. And some people manage to take advantage of that :dry: .

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Pop show dancing and classical ballet – it’s different things. Ms. Volochkova is beautiful woman who may be good as a model or pop dancer, but as a classical ballerina in last times she is awful. Volochkova’s technique is very weak, her Raymonda last May was a disaster because she cannot cope with the demanding choreography. She still can turn but she have weak jump, she cannot do movements that need speed and quick change of direction. Her stage behavior is cold and monochrome, without any acting abilities. Her only good stage quality is her good look. Bolshoi Ballet is serious company that cannot give principal roles to such a weak dancer.

Volochkova have her fans but they usually dont mix with the fans of ballet. I hear that Volochkova’s own galas in different consert halls usually sold well, but the tickets for her performances in the Bolshoi solds badly. Year ago, on the Benois de la Danse ceremony in the Bolshoi, Ms. Volochkova was booed by the audience. Bolshoi apparently dont need her. Madonna is a good pop singer but nobody expect her to sing Traviata with Metropolitan Opera, so why Volochkova must dance with the Bolshoi?

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Thank you, Inga, for your very entertaining post! You tread where I feared to, not wanting to report second-hand gossip, which is how I get my Russian information. And you really gave a thorough picture! Thanks, too, for describing her Giselle, for I was the one who wondered about that. I can tell from the pictures of her in Act II that she is probably the most aggressive Giselle there ever was!

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