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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 theater’s 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 petition’s 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 Mariinsky’s 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 dancer’s 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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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Tuesday, Jan. 27


Observe the 71st anniversary of the end of the Siege of Leningrad on Palace Square with a free concert at 7 p.m. Listen to WWII-era songs and the poetry of Olga Bergholz while you peruse outdoor exhibitions dedicated to life during wartime. The event is capped off by a fireworks display at 9 p.m.



Stop by the Lexica School of Foreign Languages at 73 Ligovsky Prospekt from now until Friday for a free English lesson. The classes start at 7 p.m. and cover all levels, from Beginner to Advanced. Registration by telephone on 7641692 and a desire to improve your skills are the only prerequisites.



Wednesday, Jan. 28



Feel like becoming a publishing mogul? Stop by the Freedom anti-cafe at 7 Ulitsa Kazanskaya today at 8 p.m. where Simferopol, Crimea-based founder and chief editor of the Holst online magazine will talk about creating an internet magaine, including what stories to cover, how find an audience and build a team, where to find inspiration and how to stand out from the crowd. Admission is the normal price of the anti-café — 2 rubles per minute, which includes tea and snacks.



Learn everything you always wanted to know about wine, and perhaps a bit more, at the Le Nez du Vin seminar for wine lovers. Held at the WineJet Sommelier School, 100 Bolshoy Prospekt Petrograd Side, at 7:30 p.m., the event will cover wine production, the basics of wine tasting, the concept of terroir and the various countries where wine is produced. Tickets are 750 rubles and include a wine tasting. Register by calling +7 921 744 6264.



Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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