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Volochkova in the English-language press


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I'm going to copy over the links to stories in the news today from the links forum so we'll have them all in one place. This story will play tomorrow too, is my guess, and then be knocked off the front pages by Hurricane Isabel, even more powerful than Volochkova, and taking aim at the east coast as I type.

I'd ask if there is discussion we stick to what's in print and not what we've heard from backstage friends and the like.

If any of our Russian readers could take the time to translate a few headlines for us, I'm sure many Ballet Alert readers would be interested.

One other note -- for those puzzled by the interest in the American press, at least, I think it's that this, to most editors of mainstream newspapers, is an exotic story, and a bit humorous -- ice cream, ballet, etc. And to American ballet fans, who still think of the Bolshoi as a men's company, where the male dancers have thighs like tree trunks and whom we've seen with our own eyes run around and around the stage with a ballerina held aloft, supported by only one arm, the story sounds especially odd.

With that preamble:

From the New York Times:

Bolshoi Decides It's Over Before 'Fat' Lady Dances

Ms. Volochkova, 27, spoke of mysterious forces working against her — she wouldn't identify them — and also said theater administrators, working on behalf of those forces, did not like her and had plotted to push her out. She says she is in top form, weighing in at 109 pounds and following a strict diet.

"I don't eat ice cream now," said Ms. Volochkova, who once told a Russian interviewer that she "adores" it. "I eat spinach leaves and vegetables."

"This is a planned conspiracy against me," she said of the dispute, which has enthralled the Russian press and has involved security guards, a missing dance partner and publicity machines working overtime. Today, after her dismissal, she and her lawyer said they would sue the Bolshoi over her contract, which expired on June 30. The Bolshoi offered an extension to Dec. 31, but she demanded a year's extension.

The Associate Press version, by a Russian correspondent datelined Moscow, that's in dozens of smaller American papers today:

Bolshoi Theater Fires Dancer Volochkova

From Anova, an arts news service:

Theatre row over sacked 'fat' ballet star

From CBC News:

Too big to lift, Russian ballerina fired

From the International Herald Tribune (a condensation of the NYTimes story, but with a different headline):

Too big for her tutu, the Bolshoi declares

From CBS:

Ballerina Bounced For Being Big?

TWO stories in the Sydney Morning Herald:

'Too heavy' ballerina sacked

Bolshoi's biggest star sacked after weighty argument

ABC News:

Russia's Bolshoi Fires Top Ballerina

The Scotsman (with probably the most accurate one sentence summary):

The Bolshoi Theatre’s move to sack one of its leading ballerinas set the Russian media dancing with reports today about her weight, height and ambitions.

The Guardian:

Bolshoi's weighty decision

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I don't have the strength to copy all of them, but there are tons more stories in the U.S. press today about Volochkova, most of them serious (i.e., getting behind the ice cream and into the politics), with interviews with Russian critics, dancers, administrators -- and, in the Washington Post, even Mikhail Lavrovsky.

All on Today's Links thread:


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Mikhail Lavrovsky's opinion is more than a shock to me. He surely should remember the standards of the Bolshoi, which are obviously fading, since many decisions are being made not for art's sake. The whole story around Volochkova is disgusting, but it would have never happened if the Bolshoi administration was more careful making their choices, as did Fadeechev after he became artistic director - he did not offer her ANY contract.

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I cannot comment on Voloshkova now, as I have not seen her since her graduation performance from Vaganova Academy. I reserve comment on that one! However, Ina do you know why the article in the Washington Post says,

...Lavrovsky first became associated with the Bolshoi as a dancer in 1963 and then, after a long period in the United States, returned in 1992, only to grow increasingly...

Mr. Lavrovsky may have left Moscow for periods of time but never to live in the USA. He staged pieces for Atlanta Ballet and also in New Orleans. He also left to be director of Tbilisi Ballet in 1983. He worked in Teacher's Workshops (Russian method) in the late 1980s until 1995 throughout the US, but he never lived here on a permanent basis. It was summer work only. Seems odd to me! Thanks for any help you may give. :wink:

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There's an article in the Moscow Times today that gives the Bolshoi's side of this, as well as comments from Ivanchenko. Ari posted them on today's Links, with substantial quotes, and here's the direct link.


A side note, in checking our stats this week (of how many people viewed the site) there were nearly 2,000 people who found this site because they put the name "Volochkova" into a search engine. That is by far the highest "hit rate" this site has ever had on a particular person.

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The topic "Volochkova Pickets Bolshoi" has been closed :yawn: , therefore I have to place an extract from a Russian periodical into this topic.

From the Russian weekly "SUMMING UP", No.38, 28.09.03

Ekaterina MAXIMOVA talks about the recent conflict between Anastasia (Nastya) Volochkova and the Bolshoi Theatre:

"I don't think that this noise about the Bolshoi - as well as Nastya's whole life - deserves such a detailed discussion. Yes, I worked with her some time ago. What is always important for me when working with others is mutual understanding. I do not want to blush with shame for my students and to face the question: "How do you allow her to do it?" On several occasions I told her frankly: "That's all, Nastya, I can not take it any longer". She would repent and cry, we would talk at length about some values in life. She would nod but then would go and do everything in her own way. The personal qualities cannot but be reflected in professional work. One should not do ballet at odd moments. After cutting a class for two days, one needs a whole week to restore the form. It goes without saying that Nastya is an able-bodied girl. However, as long as I knew her, she always was occupied not with the art, but with something else. And the fact that she was changing her teachers so frequently also speaks for something.

The people working in the theatre are members of a team. Besides one's own wishes - "I want!", - there should be a commitment to the associates. Nastya does not understand it, it does not even come to her head that she can owe a debt of gratitude to someone. Honestly speaking, I do not understand why the management of the theatre was putting up with this until recently. People say that Nastya has important patrons. Perhaps. When other ballet dancers in the company asked: "Why is Nastya allowed to do whatever she likes?", they got the answer: "This is not discussed." She was permitted to do the things, which other dancers wouldn't even dare to ask for. It turned out that in order to make a career one needs a patron and not the skill to dance well. This situation could not continue infinitely. It does happen in the show business that you are a talk of the town today but nobody wants you tomorrow. Honestly speaking, I do not know what the future is holding for Nastya. However, she is an energetic girl and will be able to apply herself in some field. Let her create her own group - she is blessed with resources for that - and let her rightfully dictate her own will there.

I think that Nastya is incapable of working as a team member at all. Of course, she has her fans, I would even say, devoted fans. The Bolshoi Theatre is not a show business. Volochkova, however, is aiming to turn the Bolshoi into a show, more precisely, the show "named after herself".

Andrei UVAROV, the People's Artist of Russia:

"I was Nastya's partner on the opening night of "Swan Lake". And I said immediately that I will never dance with her again. Our conflict had a personal background. It seems to me that there is a lot of personal feelings involved in Nastya's dismissal from the theatre. It is not for me to talk about other person's future but she will probably face an uneasy time. Talking of her as a ballet dancer... I wouldn't value her highly, rather as an ordinary mediocrity. Nastya is, let me put it this way, on a heavier side. However, it is not the kilograms which are important when dancing with a partner but the ballerina's skill to 'assemble' herself properly. If the ballerina is slacken, her weight increases. It must be said that Nastya does everything possible to dance professionally. Just it does not always work because of her innate qualities. Sadly, Nastya did not blend well with the company at all."

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She was in the latest issue of People magazine. I was Xmas shopping for my son-in-law and was on the Road and Track web site. The rep and I started "chatting" and when I mentioned ballet she admitted she knew nothing about ballet but wanted the real story on Volochokova!


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