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To the extent that I understand this at all… March 7, 2013

Filed under: ballerina,ballet — theworstat @ 6:14 pm

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.

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3 Responses to “To the extent that I understand this at all…”

  1. atlanticw Says:

    So I guess that is what Conrad is always getting at. I didn’t realize that there was such a faction within the Bolshoi. Why was Grigorovich pushed out? It seems like the MT and the Bolshoi cannot hold on to directors.

    I’m not saying I believe the attack was a hoax, but who knows how far down the rabbit hole goes. This is probably just the beginning.

  2. Jennifer S. Says:

    The problem with Grigorovich has been that he was turning into a fossil right in front of everyone even before he was pushed out. The problem was he wasn’t pushed out sooner, as he had been AD for over 30 years. During those 30 years he molded the company to showcase his bombastic productions of Petipa works or his own choreographed works which were mostly lacking in originality. Over the years his choreography looked more archaic and dated, unlike Balanchine, Grogorovich’s works don’t hold up as well. Of course there are some exceptions but overall he’s mediocre.

    However, Russian fans responded to his heroic, big scale productions and the dancers associated with them. Many affiliated with the company became part of the government elite, further cementing the bond between Grigorovich and his disciples. He was notorious for casting his wife in everything, which is why the Bolshoi videos of Giselle, Swan Lake, Raymonda, and others all featured Natalia Bessmertnova who was his wife. So after 30 years everything came to an end after charges of corruption were brought up. Many of the younger dancers had wished for more Western or modern repertory in addition to steady diet of Grigorovich. He of course would not condone such awful choreographers as MacMillan, Ashton, Balanchine among others to corrupt Russian ballet.

    The first few ADs after him endured a lot of sabbotage and difficulty rebuilding the reputation and morale of a company seen internationally as old-fashioned Soviet machine. That was why there were so many turnovers. It really wasn’t until Ratmansky took over, that Bolshoi experienced a renaissance with new works and energized dancers.

    Tsiskaridze belongs to the Grigorovich faction. Filin is of the more inclusive faction. I feel like Vorontsova was used as a pawn but I also feel she may know more than she care to profess. According to articles, it was Filin who plucked her out of a regional school and transferred her to Bolshoi academy. Thus was when he was a dancer ready to head the Stanidlavsky as AD. He not only set her up at Bolshoi academy but also helped her family move to Moscow to be with her, going so far as to help her mother find a job. Vorontsova also did an internship at Stanislavsky. Understandably Filin was disappointed when she chose to go to Bolshoi after graduation instead of Stanislavsky.

    After Filin became AD, Tsiskaridze tried to insinuate that Filin was punishing her for that and for having him as coach. Tsiskaridze publicly said Filin rejected Vorontsova’s request to dance Swan Lake, the reason being she had the wrong coach. Filin responded saying it wasn’t that at all. He just told her if she wanted to dance it then she should work with female coaches and not just Tsiskaridze alone. She refused and stayed with Tsiskaridze as her only coach. She is only 21 years old and has danced important soloist roles, she was certainly beinv featured as an up and coming young dancer. But she and others around her like Dmitrichenko and Tsiskaridze wanted her to have faster track to stardom. They saw it as injustice to have her not dance lead roles, especially since Olga Smirnova who is around same age is already getting plum roles.

    Obviously the fact that Dmitrichenko felt it was okay to resort to violence speaks volumes about the intrigue at the Bolshoi. The level of planning it took and the fact that he was having daily interactions with his victim, it really is a disgusting set up. Now there are also reports that he was also behind Filin’s and former deputy AD Yanin’s email accounts being hacked. Yanin had private photos of him in compromising positions with another man sent to Bolshoi colleagues and powers that be. Yanin resigned immediately. Filin said his emails were leaked but that he was constantly being harrassed by menacing phone calls right after Tsiskaridze unsuccessfully tried to oust him using devious tactics. Connected, I don’r know. But find it interesting that Dmitrichenko, Tsiskaridze, and Vorontsova are interelated by nature of their relationships and dislike for Filin. In the news it said that Dmitrichenko has expertise in hacking into phone and internet accounts. It just gets more curious by the day.

    Conrad is so far up the a** of that conservative faction. He sounds like one of those foreigners who want to be accepted so bad that he becomes a Russophile just to prove his worth.

  3. theworstat Says:

    Yeah, Conrad’s like an ex-smoker who goes into hysterics if someone lights a cigarette. Or maybe he’s more like a recent convert to a certain religion — they’re always 10 times more religious than even the clergy.

    There’s a little bit about the Grigorovich faction (why can I not spell names all of a sudden) in this article:
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/07/world/europe/russian-police-say-three-confess-to-bolshoi-attack.html?pagewanted=1&src=un&feedurl=http://json8.nytimes.com/pages/arts/dance/index.jsonp


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