The Bolshoi’s Onegin, which premièred in Moscow last month, came about after Filin’s long negotiations with Cranko’s heir, Dieter Graefe. And so it was with Jewels, with Filin convincing the Balanchine Trust to trust his company to perform one of Balanchine’s most exacting and definitive ballets. Filin succeeded, and in May of 2012, Jewels entered the company’s repertory. Fitting then that he chose to be present on the work’s opening night in London; fitting that he was sitting next to Balanchine’s muse, Merrill Ashley, who remounted Diamonds for the company. Jewels is a ballet that epitomises the changes he was trying to bring about in Moscow, changes that not everyone was happy about.
The monstrous acid attack in January, which has led to Filin undergoing 22 operations to try and save his sight, still seems unbelievable even with the passing of months, and all the many accounts and revelations, in court and in the media, by company members. Filin was in Covent Garden’s stalls circle, wearing dark glasses, during the performance, but what he managed to see of the production remains a matter of debate, and doctors will determine the situation before the case goes to court in October.
The Arts Desk‘s Judith Flanders wrote,
By far the most moving moment of the evening was not danced at all. With the final curtain calls, Sergei Filin, the company’s artistic director… appeared on stage. His low bow to the company, many of whom have indicated support for a dancer who may have been involved in the attack, was heartbreakingly generous.
As Alexander Volchkov, who was scheduled to partner Svetlana Zakharova in Diamonds, was injured, Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin stepped in on short notice, and it was they who “ran off into the wings like excited schoolchildren” to bring Filin on stage. Graham Watts writes,
If sustained applause and loud cries of “bravo” can aid the healing process then it may have done as much good as any of those 22 operations. It was a significant moment, much more important than any of the dancing that came before.
Filin is quoted as saying,
This is the first time that I have allowed myself to leave the clinic for one day and I received a huge boost of energy from this. Thanks to every artist and thanks to the company. They are magnificent. I think we can still do many things and achieve even greater results.
He hopes to be back with them in September.
Photo: Olga Smirnova in Diamonds, from Jewels. © Marc Haegeman.