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Anastasia Volochkova


Susanne

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I'm quite aware of that this might sound as gossip. But I came across an article on one of our tabloids today and the article says that Volochkova wasn't allowed to dance Swan Lake because she has put on some weight. So please delete this if inappropriate

This article is unfortunately in Swedish, but here is the link: Link to article about Anastasia

I was just wondering if it is something which is known world wide or just something this tabloid more or less has exaggerated?

The article says:

"There were no Swan Lake for prima ballerina Anastasia Volochkova, 27 years. The male dancers refuse to work with her because her ice-cream eating has made her too heavy. Anastasia Volochkova is one of Russias most well-known ballerinas. She is part of the Bolshoiballet-with which she has come in dispute with. Twelve hours before Anastasia was supposed to perform Swan Lake the board of the ballet called and told her that she wasn't going to perform since she had become too heavy. Volovhkova has belonged to the Bolshoi since 1998. She is taller than many other ballerinas and admits that she loves ice-cream. But she also adds that she has switched it to frozen yoguhurt with less calories."

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There have been a lot of articles in the U.S. and Britisih press about this too, Susanne (and some discussion on the Kirov thread that we had to close because it did get too gossipy -- discussing articles in the press is fine, though.

I saw Volochkova four months ago, and did not think her at all "fat." She's tall for a dancer. The consensus seems to be that she can be difficult to work with, and that's the more likely reason for her current problems with the Bolshoi. (The "ice cream" comment is rather nasty, to my taste, and comes from the fact that on her web site it says she likes ice cream. )

Volochkova is certainly controversial. She did a season with a group of dancers a few years ago in London and was ripped apart in the press for it -- vanity company, cheap repertory, etc. -- and she gets into the gossip columns for off-stage behavior with some regularity. One newspaper article about this current flap called her "the most loved and loathed ballerina," and I think that's accurate.

I've only seen her in the past year -- on three separate visits with the Bolshoi -- and was prepared to be one of the "loathers" -- I'm not usually partial to dancers who wear glitter dust. In the "Don Q" pas de deux, I did find her performance too flamboyant, although it was at a gala, and so perhaps throwing her fan up in the air and catching it -- on the beat -- as it came down could be forgiven. But I liked her Swan Lake and Bayadere (Nikiya) very much. She's a "cold" dancer (odd, to be both flamboyant and cold), and in Swan Lake and Bayadere, technically chaste -- no extremes; perfect classical line, very thoughtful performances.

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I've only seen her in the past year -- on three separate visits with the Bolshoi -- and was prepared to be one of the "loathers" -- I'm not usually partial to dancers who wear glitter dust.  In the "Don Q" pas de deux, I did find her performance too flamboyant, although it was at a gala, and so perhaps throwing her fan up in the air and catching it -- on the beat -- as it came down could be forgiven.

TOSSING the fan? And glitter? Sounds like my kinda dancer.

And given that she dances for a company which allowed a certain soloist to perform in both Shades and Giselle with what appeared to be day-glo white nailpolish at the State Theater a few years ago, well, just what are they complaining about?

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I think everyone should see the fan toss at least once, Manhattnik. I've thought of you when watching Volochkova do Don Q :thumbsup: (I'd also add that the partner who's quoted as complaining about lifting her looks as though he's big enough to lift Peter Martins.)

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When she took my class a year ago she looked in great shape and certainly less than what I sometimes partnered with respect to length and weight. Is not a partner's job to make the woman look light and long?

I would love the fan toss in the pas as an excerpt - not sure in context unless Basilio gets to toss his guitar around - although he does get the glasses in the taverna scene variation!

Somehow I scream that the ice cream must be only one flavor of this story....

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Somehow I scream that the ice cream must be only one flavor of this story....

Indeed. Since the Bolshoi just hired Svetlana Zakharova, another very big (well, tall) ballerina, I doubt that Volochkova's size was the moving factor here . . .

When I saw Volochkova with the Bolshoi a year and a half ago, my reaction was the same as Alexandra's. In Don Q she looked like everything I'd been lead to expect -- vulgar, and a performer for whom ballet was a means, not an end. But in Bayadere (I didn't see her Swan Lake) she was entirely different, a serious and disciplined artist. Whatever her excesses may be, there is something genuine and worthwhile there. It's too bad that she doesn't seem to have been able to find a company with which she can work.

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For those not familiar with Volochkova, this BBC video link may be useful, both an interview and a clip of her dancing are included. Scroll down and click onto:- "Fat" Russian Ballerina hits back at Bolshoi over weight claims. It's in the far right column.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/default.stm

Though I wouldn't claim to be a fan of AV, I find the media coverage of her present situation rather distasteful.

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Something that I find a bit annoying is that, in general, the media pay very little attention to ballet and barely mention any "serious" news (great performances, death of a dancer, stagings of ballets...), but when it sounds stupid and superficial ("a ballerina who eats to much ice-cream") suddenly they pay much attention to it! :angry:

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Estelle, I agree. In America, at least, decades ago ballet could also make the news for political reasons -- a new defector. (When Alexander Godunov defected, for example, the Bolshoi's plane was held up in New York until U.S. officials were certain that his wife was not being held against her will; this got serious coverage, though as politics, not as art.)

I find the mass media online reviews of the new movie "Company" that I've read so far appalling. "So, like, Altman decided to make a move about -- ready for htis? BALLET! Have you stopped laughing yet?" Or "well, if this is your kind of thing you might like it," etc.

Sorry for the diversion -- back to Volochkova and her ice cream.

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Pamela, I think the consensus is that there's nothing wrong with Volochkova's weight -- she's not gained. She put on her web site that she liked ice cream, and the tabloid press -- whoops, that was BBC, wasn't it? -- picked that up and ran with it as a headline. It's in all the American papers now too, adding to the body image problems which already plague young dance students. (I think the consensus is also that Volochkova was a controversial personage at the Bolshoi both back stage and on stage, and that there are, indeed, other reasons for her departure.)

Lest anyone coming in on this thread think that the "name the ice cream" comments are meant to be unkind digs at the ballerina, they weren't -- but rather suggestions for a new, perhaps temporary, sideline (on my part) and on mbjerk's, whose mention of "Rocky Road" (a real ice cream flavor here, with a particularly apt title) merely a witty comment on the situation. (For non-American readers, "Chubby Hubby" is also a real flavor. I have no idea what it is, but it's on sale at Giant Supermarkets this week, if anyone needs to fatten up a husband.)

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Ari wrote:

"Since the Bolshoi just hired Svetlana Zakharova, another very big (well, tall) ballerina, I doubt that Volochkova's size was the moving factor here . . . "

Height is not the main problem. Even a taller ballerina can be quite accommodating for her partners. Zakharova is quite tall but she is thin, thin-boned and light. No dancer ever refused to dance with her. Even such a 'sparrow' as the 20-y-o Sarafanov partnered her recently in London.

Other ballerinas (and not necessarily tall ones) have heavy bones or heavy legs or they are just difficult to dance with. Somebody reminded me a lovely remark by Maris Liepa: "When one lifts a ballerina, it is not her weight but her nature that causes the problem."

On the Russian RTR-Planeta channel, the presenter announced that Volochkova was officially sacked today by the Bolshoi's administration for her refusal to sign her contract ending by the end of December. Then there was a clip showing Volochkova herself standing at the Theatre Square, in front of the Bolshoi Theatre, talking and giving her autographs to people and interviewed by journalists. She said that she has no option but to sue the theatre.

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Thank you for the update, coda. (If it moves from the ice cream parlor into the courtroom, my bet is our newspapers will drop it. For Moscow, it's another matter, I'm sure.)

I have to say I can't think of anyone who's won a lawsuit like this -- not that I know anything about Russian law, of course. (If the dancers are on year to year contract, as guest artists almost always are, over here at least, then if the theater chooses not to renew, or offers only a partial year contract, that's their right.) Generally, it's best to go away quietly.

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First of all I have to say that civil law is pretty much in its infancy in Russia at the moment, but if Volochkova chooses to sue she doesn't have good grounds for winning. The Bolshoi has probably sacked her more for her antics in the past week than for any other reason. The short contract she was offered reflects the fact that Ratmansky, the new director designate who takes up his post in January, may well wish to review Volochkova's position within the company. Volochkova was imported from the Kirov along with her partner Ivanov. Why the Bolshoi engaged her when it had so much more interesting female talent and why she went on to perform more often than any other dancer, remains a mystery. Now that her partner Ivanov is injured through partnering her and the other male dancers have all refused to replace him, that does in effect make her redundant within the company.

In 1994 principal dancer Gediminas Taranda sued the Bolshoi for unfair dismissal and lost. His circumstances were very different, as he had been fired for dancing abroad without prior permission. Just about all the other dancers were doing the same thing and it appeared that he was being made an example of to deter the others. In a British court he may have won as his case was a strong one, but the weight of the Bolshoi bore down on him and he lost the case. Volochkova, it could be said, has become a public nuisance in the past few days and I think the courts will uphold the Bolshoi on this one.

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I have to say I can't think of anyone who's won a lawsuit like this -- not that I know anything about Russian law, of course.  (If the dancers are on year to year contract, as guest artists almost always are, over here at least, then if the theater chooses not to renew, or offers only a partial year contract, that's their right.) Generally, it's best to go away quietly.

Well, if I remember correctly, Patrick Dupond finally won a lawsuit against the Paris Opera for unfair dismissal (it was a complicated story, and he had lost his first lawsuit but won the second one; basically the POB said they had fired him because he had gone to the Cannes film festival to be a member of the jury and so had skipped some rehearsals, but in fact it was shown that anyway his roles for that period had been cancelled even before he decided to go to Cannes and so he hadn't missed any necessary rehearsals, or something like that...) and so the Paris Opera had to pay him more than 200,000 euros.

I guess that perhaps the Paris opera is lacking good lawyers, as they also had lost some lawsuits against conductors a few years before...

But that situation is quite different from that of Volochkova, as Dupond's contract was a permanent one, and in general, even though the POB dancers are not civil servants, their position is quite "secure".

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Mashinka wrote:

"... her partner Ivanov is injured through partnering her ..."

Please allow me to correct the name. Volochkova's partner who claimed an injury was the Mariinsky's Yevgeny IVANCHENKO. Not to be confused with the Bolshoi's Konstantin IVANOV who also dances some leading roles.

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I have to say that when I first heard about this little soap opera, the only aspect of the story I got was the ice cream. Not surprising, since I do live in America after all (cursed yellow journalism). Even then I didn't have too much sympathy for her (ice cream is not very high on my list of ballerina-friendly foods). And now that the truth comes out, well, I have to say it doesn't really surprise me. Just reinforces the concept that we are disposable, right up to the high-and-mighties. I'm afraid I burst a few bubbles when I brought up that point on a discussion of the situation on another website. But the little angels had to find it out sooner or later. I'm sorry it had to be me who told them so, but this is a vicious business. Being a world-famous prima doesn't exempt you from that.

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