Russian Culture Minister, Vladimir Medinsky, talked to Izvestia about the reshuffle at the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
The newly appointed Artistic Director and Principal, Ulyana Lopatkina and Nikolay Tsiskaridze, are outstanding dancers, but have no experience in directing an institution. How do you entrust the oldest ballet school to inexperienced people?
Tsiskaridze has a rich experience in teaching. Before reaching a decision I asked for many references on Tsiskaridze as a teacher. He also has a law degree, which weighed considerably in his favour.
As for Lopatkina she has a great deal of professional experience. The practice of taking a ballerina, who has reached the top of her profession, and moving her towards pedagogical work, is quite common. By the way, our current artistic director, Altynai Asylmuratova, had just finished her dancing career when she took over the post.
Yes, but that was under the wing of an experienced Principal.
The Academy is formed from an experienced team: this team will continue. We want to increase the level of our teaching. The Vaganova is now one of the best schools in the world, and we want it to become the world standard of excellence in ballet teaching. Like Oxford or Yale.
What wasn't suitable about current Principal Vera Dorofeeva?
She is suitable and we parted on good terms. Her contract runs another year, but Tsiskaridze and Lopatkina will not wait a year, so with Vera Dorofeeva we came to a mutual agreement.
What will happen to Asylmuratova?
This will be decided by the new Principal. It was the same when we reshuffled the Bolshoi Theatre and the Pushkin Museum, the ministry only deals with the head posts.
How long will Tsiskaridze's contract last?
We won't be signing contracts for a week; it's a complex procedure. The important thing is that it won't disturb the school's teaching. We want things to go smoothly.
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.