Leading Bolshoi dancers have been suspended from upcoming performances in Moscow after participating in a gala in Uzbekistan.
On their day off, the dancers were in Tashkent, the capital, at the invitation of the Foundation for the Development of Culture and Art of Uzbekistan. The Bolshoi dancers who took part are Vladislav Lantratov, Vyacheslav Lopatin, Anastasia Stashkevich, Ekaterina Krysanova, Mikhail Lobukhin, Evgenia Obraztsova, Maria Alexandrova, Ekaterina Shipulina, Ruslan Skvortsov, and Alexander Volchkov.
Two reasons are being floated as to why these artists have been pulled from performances: one is that the poster used the Bolshoi name and logo (though the dancers presumably had nothing to do with marketing and graphic design). The other is that they did not formally ask for permission to perform. However, corridor whispers say that the ballet company's director, Makhar Vaziev, knew of their appearance at the event – hardly surprising if ten of the company's top dancers were all flying off for the day.
The general director of the Bolshoi Theatre, Vladimir Urin, said that he did not comment on internal matters, but it has to be wondered whether a lesson is being taught to these artists who went to the former soviet state that has been rapidly cooling its relations with Russia. Recently the Uzbekistan government announced that it had no plans to deport Russians who are fleeing to Central Asia to evade military conscription, and two weeks ago, the country suspended the processing of payments via the Mir cards issued by Bank of Russia National Card Payment System, whose chief executive has been targeted by US sanctions.
After an outcry from ticket holders, the theatre has agreed to refund the normally non-refundable tickets.
The whisperers also say there is a certain amount of chaos in Moscow as the company scrambles to coach many dancers, in a short period of time, in roles they haven't danced before.
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.