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Dancers: Mariinsky Is Favoritist

Published: November 28, 2012 (Issue # 1737)


Members of the Mariinsky Theater ballet troupe have sent an open letter to Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, accusing the theaters management of not paying their salaries in full and of creating a manipulative system of running the company in which critics of the bosses get restricted access to the stage, which in turn immediately affects their pay.

The petitions authors spoke about the mass exodus of the most outstanding dancing talent from the company: Leonid Sarafanov defected to the Mikhailovsky Theater in 2010, and that same year, Mikhail Lobukhin left for the Bolshoi Theater, and Yevgenia Obraztsova joined him there one year later.

According to the dancers who signed the petition, soloists and members of the corps de ballet alike are fleeing the Mariinsky because of ill-conceived planning and disrespect for the artists.

Tatyana Bessarabova, the aide to the head of the ballet division, has continually humiliated and insulted the artists, and numerous complaints about her behavior from coaches and dancers have failed to yield any results, reads the open letter. While some of the dancers have very tight performing schedules, others are left to starve and are not getting any engagements. It is not enough to be in good shape to win a role, you have to make yourself likeable to the management. This is pure manipulation.

The Mariinskys managers countered the accusations by saying that the staff turnover at the company has remained stable, and argued that there is no cause for concern.

Since 2009, the ballet division has welcomed 64 new members, said Oksana Tokranova, head of the Mariinsky Theater press office.

There is no disaster in soloists moving from company to company; rather, this is a natural process. At present, we have several foreign soloists with the company, including Keenan Kampa (U.S.), Xander Parish (U.K.) and Kim Kimin (South Korea). Importantly, since the start of the season, the troupe has seen 70 debuts of dancers in new roles and we are talking about aspiring young performers as well as seasoned dancers.

The Mariinsky management denies allegations about biased performance engagements.

The issue of each dancers involvement in the repertoire and their participation in a tour is never decided singlehandedly by the head of the ballet division, Tokranova said. In every case, the situation is discussed with the coaches and is fully transparent.

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Friday, Aug. 29


Park Pobedy will feature the sights and sounds of the world outside of Russia during the Open Art International Festival today. Taste foreign cuisine, learn how to make tea like the Chinese or relax in a hammock during the free event. Although entrance is free, you must register beforehand if you wish to attend.



Saturday, Aug. 30


Break out the tweed and channel your inner Englishman during the English Hunt Picnic this afternoon organized by the Bagmut stables from Krasny Bor in the Leningrad Oblast. Equestrian stunts, English archery and classic hunting fashion will all be available to visitors hoping to live like the characters in Downton Abbey if only for a day. Tickets for the event cost 7,900 rubles ($219.40).


Bookworms will have their chance to swap out well-read classics for something new for their bookshelves at Knigovorot, a free book exchange that will be held in the Yusupov Garden on Sadovaya Ulitsa today. Come for the chance to get a new book or take the opportunity to discuss the literary merits of your favorite authors with fellow fans.



Sunday, Aug. 31


The Neva Delta International Blues Festival wraps up this afternoon on Vasilevsky Island with a concert featuring not only some of Russias best blues bands but international stars as well. Admission is free for all three days of the festival, which begins on Aug. 29, and the shows starting at 5 p.m. each day.



Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meetings every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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