Vladimir Derevianko, Russian dancer, coach, choreographer, company director, and TV panellist, has an international understanding of dance and, being that he is based in Rome, is ideally positioned to see the recent problems at Rome Opera Ballet objectively.
He left an interview with Adnkronos, the news agency that first published the letter from the trade unions representing the company dancers to the management of Rome Opera, complaining about the ‘disrespectful’ behaviour of the ballet company’s director, Eleonora Abbagnato.
There are two indisputable facts when it comes to Eleonora Abbagnato at the Rome Opera House: her work, and the way she presents herself in front of the company. There’s no denying that, with her planning, she’s changed the face of the Rome Opera Ballet. She’s brought excellence to the theatre as well as important personalities, from Forsythe to Baryshnikov… international faces. Its programming rivals world standards.
However, he adds,
In life, everyone can think what they like, but a director must always show correct behaviour.
A director has a diplomatic role: you must know how to keep control – to stay on your pedestal so not to be attacked.
As Maître at La Scala in Milan and Director of the Maggio Danza in Florence, Derevianko too has had run-ins with the unions.
They accused me of being too inflexible, strict and demanding. But nothing more. Unfortunately, you have to keep up with the times. Nureyev, when he was the director of the Paris Opera Ballet, was never gentle with his dancers. Everything flew – a thermos full of boiling tea and especially swearwords. But no one at the time dared to speak out or complain. I am convinced that Eleanora, a beautiful woman and an extraordinary dancer, will grow through this experience.
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.