“Russian tycoon Vladimir Kekhman made a fortune selling bananas. Now he has a new mission in life: ballet,” says Reuters.
The ballet world was rocked a couple of weeks ago when Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev left the Bolshoi to join Kekhman's Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg. He has already lured Spanish choreographer Nacho Duato from the Compañía Nacional de Danza de España to become the theatre's artistic director. Speaking to Reuters after David Hallberg's recent début with the Bolshoi company in The Sleeping Beauty Kekhman said,
We usually get the dancers we want. David Hallberg is no exception. Even though he chose the Bolshoi when I offered him a position with us, I think he can still dance (as a guest star) at the Mikhailovsky. There is a lot he can do here.”
Kekhman, who is only 43, has invested $50 million into the Mikhailovsky.
All of our principal dancers get the market price. That's how we hold onto the best performers because many of them are ready to sacrifice salary for prestige of the Bolshoi.”
Kekhman said that his theatre was not wanting to rival the other St Peterburg company, the Mariinsky, but to do something different and do it well.
“There are many theatres calling themselves No. 1, my goal now is to make Mikhailovsky the world's No. 2 theatre. The Bolshoi and the Mariinsky use their brand names. They spend a ton of money on expensive decorations, while I think it is best to invest in performers and choreographers.
His contract expires in 2013 but he has no plans for leaving,
Right now I am completely consumed with the Mikhailovsky.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.