Here’s what I am able to piece together about the Bolshoi scandal and the ensuing arrests:
There has for some time been a rift between the Grigorovich-ites and those who want to modernize the Bolshoi. One fan on a ballet board recently suggested that the Grigorovich faction should just go off and form the Grigorovich Company and leave the Bolshoi alone.
I guess in a way this is similar (but not the same) as if someone had come into the NYCB after Balanchine’s death and tried to minimize his ballets in favor of something new. (It is, of course, inevitable that this will happen in the future.) There was a freak-out over Peter Martins in the beginning, but after many years, people are starting to get used to him. Certainly the quality of the company hasn’t suffered. I daresay it’s the same with the Bolshoi post-Grigorovich.
I also now understand what Eric Conrad actually meant when he talked about true Russian ballet being under threat of becoming extinct, and a small group of dancers and insiders being determined to save it. Okay, now I get it: he’s a Grigorovich-ite.
Let’s not lay aside labor issues. Obviously these factor into all the backstage histrionics in Russia.
But like everything Russian, it is not that simple. Of course there also has to be just plain old outright drama on top of everything else: cue the very young and “overweight”** would-be prima ballerina and her rising-star boyfriend, and an aging star who (just happens to be the would-be prima’s teacher, and) really wants to be artistic director of the Bolshoi…etc., etc. Sources now say that we should not close the case at just the three who have been arrested, that there are far more people involved. Of course there are. This is Russia we’re talking about.
We’ve also been told not to factor in said ballerina too much. It’s said she is an innocent who does what she is told and has no voice in anything, and that she may have complained to her boyfriend privately, but that’s all she’s guilty of doing. Be that as it may, I don’t believe the Bolshoi will be a comfortable home for her in the future. And that’s a shame; she has some promise. I’m guessing she will not be fired outright, but rather left to wither on the vine.
And then there are the accusations that the attack never happened. There are two ways of looking at this: it may have been invented to get rid of Tsiskaridze’s Grigorovich-ites. But wouldn’t it have been easier just to fire them all?
Conrad suggested that the attack was invented for publicity’s sake. That seems too absurd to ponder, much like most everything else he says. (Time to go home, kiddo; your credibility is shot at this point.)
The other way of looking at it is that the attack did happen, and that it was the end result of too many years of morale-busting management…or maybe just because there is a faction in the company that wants to keep things forever as they were under Grigorovich. Or maybe it was the combination of the two. For an outsider, it is impossible to say.
Anyway, the only thing that can be predicted right now is that the three who have been arrested will go to jail for a time, and that Dmitrichenko’s career as a dancer is effectively over. As for the investigation stretching beyond this, time will tell.
** She has definitely gained weight since her school years, when she was stick-like. But fat? Try again, sports fans. Seems to me this has been done to someone before, and it didn’t stick that time, either — even though that person was, in fact, not a very good dancer, which would have been a more honest excuse to attack her. In the case of this kid, I think the truth probably is that she’s too obviously still just a baby and has some growing up and strengthening to do before she tackles the really big roles.