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:
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.