Running a ballet company demands absolute concentration and authority – said Zelensky – At present, however, private family circumstances require my full attention and time, and it is impossible for me to reconcile these circumstances with running a ballet company.
The 52-year-old Russian, who has been running the company since 2016, was a principal dancer at the Mariinsky Ballet until 2013.
After giving the matter serious thought, I have decided, therefore, to step down as director of the Bayerisches Staatsballett with effect from 4 April 2022 and to withdraw from all of the commitments associated with this post. My family needs my full support.
Zelensky came to the company with the experience of having run two other companies: he was the Artistic Director of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre from 2006 until 2015, as well as the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre in Moscow from 2011 until 2016.
On 11 March the German Ministry of Science and the Arts said that Zelensky had been summoned to answer questions about his current secondary job for Russia’s National Cultural Heritage Foundation. The foundation, which is close to Putin, is building four cultural centres, one of which is located in Crimea. The ministry has left no further declaration.
The Bavarian Ministry of Science and Art will be conducting a search for a successor, who will be appointed within the next weeks. During this interim period, the ballet masters Judith Turos and Thomas Mayr will jointly cover his role.
The general director of the Bayerische Staatsoper, Serge Dorny, said,
I fully respect his decision, which I know has not been an easy one. I wish Igor Zelensky and his family all the very best. Over the past few years he has consolidated the Bayerische Staatsballett’s international reputation. This allows us to look with confidence to the future. I would like to thank Igor Zelensky for his work with the Bayerisches Staatsballett.
Markus Blume, Bavaria’s minister for the arts, added,
I have nothing but respect for this very personal decision. Under Igor Zelensky’s leadership, the Bayerisches Staatsballett has enjoyed a number of major artistic triumphs. Above all, we shall remember the many appearances by world-famous ballet stars whom Igor Zelensky invited to Munich. I wish him all the best for his private and professional future.
Since taking up the reins in Munich, Zelensky has promoted productions of Roland Petit and Yuri Grigorovich’s work, but above all has presented works by contemporary choreographers: David Dawson, Sharon Eyal, Marco Goecke, Andrey Kaydanovskiy, Wayne McGregor, Christian Spuck and Christopher Wheeldon. Under Igor Zelensky’s leadership the company has built up a national and international reputation for itself as an ensemble made up of outstanding dancers performing an exceptionally wide range of works.
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.