Bolshoi blow as dance partnership jumps ship to rival
Date: November 14, 2011
Publisher: The Telegraph
One of the Bolshoi Theatre's most promising dance partnerships is leaving its Moscow stage to join the rival Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg.
Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasilie Photo: DAVID ROSE
Prima ballerina Natalia Osipova, 25, and principal dancer Ivan Vasiliev, 22, will leave the newly renovated Bolshoi to work with the Mikhailovsky Theatre's new Spanish artistic director Nacho Duato.
In January, modern choreographer Duato became the first foreigner in a century to lead a Russian ballet troupe, vowing to breathe new life into the Russian stage by bringing a modern twist to its classical repertoire.
Osipova and Vasiliev will debut at their new theatre in March in a ballet tailor-made for them by Duato.
Mikhailovsky Theatre director Vladimir Kekhman said he had signed the dancers to a five-year contract from December 1, following talks that lasted a year and half .
"The reason they are switching theatres is definitely not the money," Mr Kekhman said. "Money is irrelevant to creative people. They are coming here in search of creative growth."
The new position will offer the dancers a chance to expand their repertoires and tour the world's main stages, he said.
"These guys really want to dance, and the Bolshoi doesn't give them enough performance opportunities," Osipova's dance tutor Marina Kondratyeva told Russia's Izvestia daily newspaper.
"They hope to have a contract that will allow them to tour more, they have many offers from other theatres around the world," she said in an article published on Monday.
The Bolshoi, which has just reopened after a six-year renovation, expressed regret that the dancers were leaving.
"Both dancers are this theatre's darlings, they became world-class dancers here, and we'd hoped they would have stayed with us for longer," Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova said.
Osipova and Vasiliev's decision to quit caps a hectic year of reshuffling for the Bolshoi ballet troupe.
The company changed artistic director twice this year amid a sex scandal, and, in September, hired its first American principle dancer, David Hallberg, away from the American Ballet Theatre.
Most recently, Osipova and Vasiliev performed in a gala concert last month to celebrate the Bolshoi's reopening after an extensive renovation which cost £500 million to revive one of Russia's most revered cultural symbols.
Speaking ahead of the gala, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a veteran Bolshoi principal dancer, criticised the renovation, claiming it reminded him of a Turkish hotel, alleging its costly facelift had been done on the cheap.