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Stunned January 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — theworstat @ 12:40 pm
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Special Post

I don’t know if it’s considered kosher for me to post a link to a ballet-discussion board that is not associated with this site, but here goes:
Ballet Alert

Now I’ll tell you why I did that.

Reader Jennifer commented on an earlier post that Sergei Filin, Artistic Director of the Bolshoi, has just been the victim of an acid attack that has left him nearly blind.  I quickly went to the search engines and came up with this:

I am stunned by this news, so stunned that anyone would do anything like that for any reason, let alone ballet, that at first I didn’t take in what was being said.  But then I searched further and found the thread about Tsiskaridze on Ballet Alert.

I am not saying Tsiskaridze had anything to do with the attack. Anyone making such an outrageous charge will be banned from this site.

Having said that, however, I have to add that suddenly a lot of things concerning the general atmosphere in Russia became very clear to me.  Take Eric Conrad’s comments of last summer, for instance.  Yes, I covered those in this blog; just put his name in the search box and you’ll find it.  I won’t dignify what he said by re-posting the link here.  Suffice it to say that at the time, I was bewildered.  Now I am less so.

There may be a thread of truth in what Conrad said – but that thread wouldn’t make him happy.  It doesn’t involve any inherent superiority in Russian ballet, but instead what seems to be really extreme xenophobia in Russia (and no, I am not claiming there is no similar xenophobia in the U.S….let’s not go there, this is not a political blog, and in the U.S. ballet is not directly involved with politics unless you count the fact that ABT is being propped up financially by the Koch brothers).  We’re already seeing that, as Jennifer pointed out, at the Maryinsky with Keenan Kampa.  The other frequently-attacked outsider, Oxana Skorik, is Ukrainian, I believe; many of the attacks on her center on her “foreign” training, the film that featured her in her student days, and the fact that she is more than a bit disaster-prone onstage.

I hadn’t been aware of such similar rancor at the Bolshoi; however, Tsiskaridze’s attacks on Hallberg seem pretty par for the course…for Tsiskaridze. I was somewhat aware of his eternal griping previously, but dismissed it as I was also aware that Tsiskaridze is a bit of a drama queen (for lack of a better way to put it).  Plus, in a company of 200 dancers, most of whom come from the same school, to suddenly have someone named Principal who not only came from outside the system, but also another country entirely…well, that’s adding fuel to the fire for sure.  Of course there’s going to be grumbling.  Such things are pretty predictable in almost any company in the world except for American Ballet Theater, where they’re used to it (and, perhaps, the Mikhailovsky and La Scala). But this?  No.  Someone out there is really sick, and it probably isn’t even a dancer.

What concerns me now is the safety of total innocents such as Joy Womack, Keenan Kampa, and yes, David Hallberg.  If the sentiment in Russia is that extreme, one has to worry.

In the meantime, I wish the best to Filin in his recovery.


6 Responses to “Stunned”

  1. Jennifer S. Says:

    The intrigue and nastiness of it all speaks ill of Russian political climate, even in the world of ballet management. Tsiskaridze does not come out as a sympathetic person at all, I’m not implicating him in any way, just that he could have been a little more sympathetic to Filin. Don’t know if you understand French but this is from French ballet forum Dansomanie

    “Les déclarations pour le moins contestables de Nikolaï Tsiskaridzé à Moskovskie Komsomolets commencent déjà à faire des vagues sur les forums russes consacrés à la danse. Il est vrai qu’il ne fait pas franchement dans la compassion, et qu’il n’a pas l’air trop attristé de ce qui est arrivé à Serguei Filin :

    Nous [Moskovskie Komsomolets] avons joint N. Tsiskaridzé au téléphone, voici ce qu’il nous a déclaré :

    – Bonjour Nikolaï, vous devinez sans doute la raison de notre appel?

    – Filin, c’est ça? En quoi puis-je vous être utile?

    – Les gens commencent à évoquer des luttes intestines pour prendre sa place…

    – Je m’en fous, cette nuit déjà une journaliste m’a appelé pour ça, je lui ai dit : “pourquoi me téléphoner à moi?”- Elle m’a répondu : c’est la porte-parole du Bolchoï [Katerina Novikova] qui m’a dit de le faire.

    – Eh bien, ça vous a fait un choc?

    – Non, à part le battage que la direction fait autour de ça depuis 9 heures ce matin… Je n’ai rien de commun avec ce type [Filin]. Tout ce que je sais, c’est qu’il m’a insulté sur sa page Facebook, moi et tout un tas d’autres artistes. Il nous a traités de blaireaux.

    – Mais vous savez pourtant qu’il s’agissait de faux messages, que sa page Facebook a été hackée?

    – La page a peut-être été hackée, mais le contenu est vrai. Des gens ont dû réussir à pirater son e-mail, et à publier les messages. Les faits qui sont décrits sont réels. C’est tout à fait sa manière de s’exprimer. Maintenant, on cherche à étouffer ça. Mais vous, les journalistes, vous me donnez la possibilité de le dénoncer.

    – J’aurais une autre question : vous trouvez que ce sont des méthodes acceptables pour régler un différend?

    – Ça a toujours été comme ça, quand une personne brasse beaucoup d’argent (et il y a beaucoup de récriminations autour de ça, d’après les lettres [publiées]), ou quand il y a des histoires d’alcôve, on balance tout sur Facebook.

    – Amour et argent?

    – Oui, on [sous entendu : Filin] a monté les gens les un contre les autres avec des histoires de fric et d’amour. Ça ne résout aucun problème, mais comme ça pendant que les gens se tapent dessus entre eux, ils ne s’intéressent pas à votre poste.”

    Rather callous I must say.

    • theworstat Says:

      Wow….just wow. I don’t read much French but I understood more than enough of that. Thanks.

  2. atlantic Says:

    This is awful. Such a senseless act. There is never a reason to do something like this, especially over ballet. I really hope they can find who did this.

    I am worried about the safety of the foreign dancers there in the company and the school. If this person gets away with it, it will make it seem like an acceptable means to lash out at someone who makes a decision you don’t like 😦

    • theworstat Says:

      Exactly right. Especially since the Tsiskaradze interview seems to indicate an attitude that you do whatever it takes to get what you want (or what’s due you). If he feels that way, I’m sure there are other, unbalanced people who feel that way and may act on it in extraordinary ways.

  3. Cat Says:

    I’m shocked to read this. One can’t point fingers because there’s too much going on underneath the surface. Obviously in such a competitive dance world there will be intrigues, but for it reach the point of a physical attack…..! One certainly must be concerned about the foreign dancers…

  4. atlantic Says:

    What ever horrible person/people were behind this probably thought they were ‘saving’ the bolshoi. They couldn’t be more wrong. This is going to be brought up every time the bolshoi is mentioned from now on. It makes them look petty and fanatical. And good luck finding a new director.

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