Principal dancer Jacopo Tissi has decided to leave the Bolshoi ballet company and principal Xander Parish the Mariinsky because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They are both exceptional as there are few dancers who are not from the former Soviet countries who dance with these Russian companies, let alone reach the highest echelons.
The Italian Jacopo Tissi, who was only appointed principal with the company two months ago, today wrote on Instagram:
Hard to put down some words in these days: all the moments I have lived up to now and the many thoughts spinning in my head.
I am shocked by this situation that has come upon us from one day to the next, and quite honestly, I find myself unable to continue with my career in Moscow, for the time being. I cannot begin to describe how sad it was for me to leave my teachers, my colleagues and friends; special people that made me grow as an artist and as a person which I’m grateful to.
As a human being I feel empathy toward all the people and their families that are suffering. No war can be justified. Ever. And I will always be against every kind of violence. We cannot let hate spread – quite the contrary, our world should be full of harmony, peace, comprehension and respect.
I truly hope and pray that all war and suffering will soon cease.
Xander Parish, who is British, yesterday wrote on social media:
Dear friends & followers, tonight I was supposed to be performing Giselle at the Mariinsky Theatre but instead, due to the awful crisis, I have taken the difficult decision to leave Russia, at least until peace comes.
My heart goes out to the people of Ukraine, near and far, including @kate_chebykina pictured with me here in @jivoy_dance’s “I’m not Scared”. I am so grateful to the Mariinsky Theatre who, thanks to Yuri Fateev, took me in 12 years ago and gave me a career in classical ballet I could only have dreamed about. I am grateful to the wonderful ordinary Russian people, the majority of whom have treated me with such kindness. I pray that peace will come and the wounds will be healed by God’s grace. Thank you to all of you who have been sending me messages over the past few days and sorry for not having had the time to reply.
Brazilian dancers David Motta Soares (a leading soloist at the Bolshoi), and Victor Caixeta (a second soloist at the Mariinsky) have also left Russia.
In an interview with Gramilano just before the first lockdown, Tissi said:
My experience of life in Moscow was full of new situations, new ways of seeing things, and I was encountering things that I just didn’t know. It certainly wasn’t easy, but it has brought me great rewards, such as learning to speak Russian. Today I feel well integrated both in daily life and in the life of the theatre where I have been very warmly welcomed.
In an interview with Sky News in December Parish said:
When I first came here, I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, everyone’s so cold and unfriendly.’ But they weren’t. It’s just that they didn’t know me so they weren’t open. I’ve made friends here who I’ll have for life and they are the most loyal, kind people you can imagine.
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.