Earlier today, teachers at the Vaganova Ballet Academy published an open letter, written in four languages, to President Vladimir Putin asking him to reconsider the appointment of Nikolay Tsiskaridze as the new school principal.
Diana Vishneva was one of the first to openly criticise Tsiskaridze’s appointment, saying that it could ruin the future of the renowned institution. Choreographer Alexei Ratmansky has also spoken out against the political maneuvering, but it seems that someone is desperate to appease the ex-Bolshoi star after he was dismissed from the company.
The Mariinsky Theatre’s director Valery Gergiev has publicly criticised the level of teaching at the school in the past, and is known to have close links to Putin. The Culture Minister, Vladimir Medinsky, is being accused by those opposed to Tsiskaridze, of politically engineering the moves of dancers and teachers between Moscow and St Petersburg, to satisfy Gergiev’s wishes.
The Vaganova provides most of the Mariinsky Theatre’s dancers, and Gergiev has been wanting the school to come under the wing of the theatre, meaning that he would become overall chief of the Mariinsky opera, ballet and orchestra and Vaganova school.
After Gergiev saluted the change of guard at the Vaganova, which included the replacement of Altynai Asylmuratova with Ulyana Lopatkina as artistic director, as a “genial personnel reshuffle”, Tsiskaridze today announced that Asylmuratova would stay on at the school. This is seen as a move to smooth down ruffled feathers as the ex-ballerina is one of the school’s most loved and respected figures.
The letter from the Vaganova teachers says that the new appointments could cause
…irreversible damage to the Academy’s artistic potential, break continuity of tradition at the school and is an unacceptable, if not criminal decision…
and has also been signed by some dancers from the Mariinsky Company.
The AFP news agency quoted Tatyana Kuznetsova, one of Russia’s leading ballet reviewers, who published an article today in Kommersant Vlast, as saying,
The ex-Bolshoi dancer and teacher’s reputation is not quoted quite so high in the professional ballet world as his admirers and state officials and their wives would have you believe.
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.