CriticalDance Forum

Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director
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Author:  allegro [ Sun Feb 05, 2012 7:22 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Does anyone know why the dates for the Mikhailovsky’s New York performances in the Lincoln Center this summer have changed? The Koch Theater’s website has originally been advertising their performances as taking place in June, but now a following announcement can be found there, which mentions the new dates: July 24 – Aug 05
Please note that the performance dates for the Mikhailovsky Ballet have changed to the dates above. The Company is planning a new and exciting program which we expect to unveil sometime next week. If you have any questions, please call the DHKT Call Center at 212-496-0600, Monday-Saturday 10am-8pm or Sunday 12pm-5pm.

The DHKT Call Center couldn't provide a reason. Any light please?

Author:  ksneds [ Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:55 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

The answer: ABT has a no-compete clause in their contract with Osipova and Vasiliev, and the Mikhailovsky had intended to showcase the couple during their Lincoln Center performances. It seems pretty obvious that Duato and Danilian (agent for the couple and promoter for the company) went ahead with touring plans assuming that ABT would just waive the clause, which was a very dumb assumption. McKenzie has waived the clause on occasion to let dancers perform with NYCB for galas, special guest appearances or emergency fill-ins, but NYCB and ABT tend not to compete in terms of repertory and the relationship works both ways. ABT has benefited from NYCB dancers filling in and guesting.

Frankly, the facts suggest that Duato and Danilian were blatantly disregarding a clause they were well aware of and were trying to poach on ABT's audience. They were just hoping they wouldn't get caught. For, there is no defensible reason why they aren't able to recast their 'Giselle' and 'Sleeping Beauty' with four months to spare. It's not a tiny company and they'd have to have some back up plan if either Vasiliev and/or Osipova were to get sick or injured. Honestly, if I were a dancer in the Mikhailovsky, I'd be severly PO'd because this whole situation makes it look like Duato has no faith in any of his other dancers to carry a ballet or sell tickets. And no company can survive on the backs of a single pair of dancers...

Funny - Osipova and Vasiliev indicated that limitations on their rep and touring were the reason they left for the Mikhailovsky. But now they're finding themselves just as limited by another contract! Reality comes back to bite... ... /?ref=arts

Author:  allegro [ Mon Feb 13, 2012 1:11 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Thank you, ksends.

Author:  Francis Timlin [ Thu Feb 16, 2012 2:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

According to this news report from, the Mikhailovsky has cancelled its New York performances.

Author:  Cygne [ Thu Feb 23, 2012 11:04 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

In addition to the information in the posts above, there is another explanation why the Mikhailovsky tour was cancelled.
It was revealed yesterday in RIA Novosti and Russia Today that JFC Group filed for bankruptcy. Vladimir Kehkman is the founder and CEO of JFC. ... ilure-925/

I'm ITA with everything that "ksneds" posted. It was incredibly arrogant of Kehkman and Danilian to think that ABT would let Osipova and Vasiliev skip across Lincoln Center quad from the Met to Koch Theatre and perform with the Mikhailovsky (practically) at the same time. It seems that Kehkman bet the house on 1) acquiring Osipova and Vasiliev - (which was a long shot), and 2) have them headline what might have been the Mikhailovsky's first U.S. engagement. The sad fact is that while Leonid Sarafanov (formerly) of the Mariinsky may have an out when his contract is up, (i.e. he could return to the Mariinsky Theatre), the Bolshoi bridge is out, perhaps permanently for Osipova and Vasiliev. The morale of this tale is this: It matters how you leave; you may have to come back one day.

Moreover, as for Duato, he was another gamble that Kehkman took upon himself. The great teacher Mikhail Messerer and coach and former Kirov premier danseur noble, Nikita Dolgushin are already in the theatre :arrow: ( :roll: ), and yet he looked beyond Russia's borders and selected Mr. Duato to lead the ballet and essentially change the emphasis of the company to modern dance. This is an entirely different direction which is not based on the training of the Mikhailovsky's dancers :arrow: classical ballet. As for ksneds' very perceptive point about Duato having ". . . no faith in any of his other dancers," I totally agree. I for one, can draw no other conclusion just by looking at his casting decisions. For example his vision of "Sleeping Beauty" was barely tolerable simply because Svetlana Zakharova chose to participate. She danced one of the premiere performances with Sarafanov. The opening night was danced by Irina Perren, (also with Sarafanov). His vision of Petipa's masterpiece is essentially modern dance in roccoco costumes. This is the problem: His choreography does not translate nor fit others in the rank and file who might aspire to the role of (his) Aurora. The reception by the public and the critics was mediocre - at best. That's just not MO, it was also the majority opinion of the specialists, pedagogues and the cognoscenti in Petersburg and Moscow.

Author:  Cassandra [ Fri Feb 24, 2012 10:35 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

A very good post, Cygne, you raise a number of issues that have troubled admirers of the Mikhailovsky for some time.

I never felt happy about Vladimir Kekhman’s involvement with the company as although a moneyed benefactor is probably what every company dreams of, too often such a person’s involvement comes with strings attached and it became obvious with the engaging of Nacho Duarto that Mr K.’s artistic judgement was seriously flawed. The sidelining of Misha Messerer and Dolgushin has been a major error in my view and one can’t help wondering what the result would have been if either had been entrusted with the new Beauty rather than Duarto.

So Kekhman’s banana business is filing for bankruptcy, to be honest I wondered about his commercial acumen when he arranged the Mikhailovsky’s London season in 2010 to coincide with that of the Bolshoi. The company earned itself a lot of goodwill on a previous visit and instead of building on that, audience numbers were compromised by performing in direct competition with another company.

Osipova/Vasiliev may yet rue their decision to part company with the Bolshoi, I’m sure part of the deal was exposure to audiences in the main centres, e.g. New York and now that promise has fallen at the first hurdle. I wonder if they are starting to have regrets?

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Cygne, thanks for the post, I was only now getting to adding it to the forum, so glad you managed to do so earlier.

Cassandra, I agree with what you wrote.

I do wonder what this means for the rest of the company, and those such as Sarafanov who have migrated across town. I don't know what the financial rules are around such things, but I hope that the dancers who depend on a salary will not be affected by this.

(In the US, years back, there was a smaller ballet company that filed bankruptcy the night after the final performance -- none of the dancers got paid for their 4+ months of rehearsals and performances. The owner/manager then reincorporated under another name several months later and repeated the ruse. Not saying that is the case here, but legally they weren't obliged to fulfill the payment terms since they went bankrupt, and that's a scary prospect.)

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:43 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

I haven't been following this situation, but in a February 17 article in "Russian Gazette" (in russian), celebrating the sixtieth birthday of Bolshoi general director, Anatoly Iksanov, he is quoted as saying that he is ready to invite Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev back ( but not through their agent, Sergei Danilian) as "guest stars."

Thanks to sophia at dansomanie for this information. ... start=1515

For what this is worth, about a month ago, I tried to get a ticket, from the theater directly and then from a ticket agent, to the Mikhailovsky performance of Nacho Duato's "Sleeping Beauty" with Leonid Sarafanov and Irina Perren in Saint Petersburg, March 28, and was told that it was sold out. Same for the other performances, March 29 and 30.

Author:  Buddy [ Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

I would add to my comments above, that I've read several interviews with Mikhail Messerer and he seems like a very capable and sensible person.

And a question?

Isn't the Mikhailovsky a State owned institution? Maybe the Russian government could help out financially if necessary.

Added later:

A partial answer to my own question from the New York Times, November 20, 2011.

"Similarly understated, Mr. Kekhman said, were reports that he has spent $20 million of his personal fortune upgrading the * state-owned * [my *] Mikhailovsky and restoring some of its pre-revolutionary architectural splendor since he was named the theater’s general director four years ago. “I have donated $40 million, not $20 million,” he said.

"He [Mr. Kekhman] was appointed general director of the Mikhailovsky in 2007 by the governor of St. Petersburg, Valentina I. Matviyenko, who is now chairwoman of the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament." ... wanted=all

I have to say that I've been in the theatre and the restoration work is gorgeous.
(various slide views in upper left picture)

Author:  Cygne [ Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:08 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Yes, the Mikhailovsky is "de jure" owned by the City of St. Petersburg. They (wisely) retained that prerogative, when Kehkman persuaded city officials to allow him to underwrite the Mikhailovsky's renovation and assume the post of General Director. This is "crony capitalism" in action: Whoever has the deepest pockets wins the government's "prize" (the Mikhailovsky).

Kehkman's pitch probably went something like this: "I'm 'the money.' I'll pay for the renovation; and of course I should run the theatre." The City allowed it. Unfortunately, he has demonstrated that he isn't a "natural" impresario. This also shows that if one is an oligarch, it doesn't necessarily follow that you know how to run an arts institution, in this case, the "second theatre" of St. Petersburg. It might have been better if he had paid for the restoration of other such Imperial theatres, (the Mariinsky comes to mind). Right now, the Mariinsky is building the new opera house across the canal behind the historic building. Rather than have that company tour 24/7 approximately 50 weeks a year, that would have been a less strenuous way to accomplish the same goal. Kehkman might have left that kind of legacy as the man who restored Petersburg's great theatres. But I digress.

There was something else that Kehkman did that, IMO was appalling. During the fallout in the Russian media over Osipova and Vasiliev's abrupt and bodacious departure, Kehkman, doing his best Donald Trump imitation, challenged Bolshoi Theatre General Director Anatoly Iksanov by declaring that he would also poach David Hallberg. This went back and forth for several days. Again, that was not only downright discourteous, it was arrogant. The Bolshoi Theatre, is the main stage of Russia, and yes, it has it's own internal strife - all arts institutions do. But it's unheard of that the Gen. Director of a comparatively minor theatre would do such a thing. There is an artistic pecking order among theatres and artists in Russia and the Bolshoi is at the top of that pecking order. So this was unheard of as well as petty. Now, fast forward to the present. Iksanov may indeed take Osipova and Vasiliev back, but the key words he used were "guest artists," and he stated that he won't deal with them as long as they are represented by Ardani (i.e. Team Danilian). If that came to pass that would be great for them, because now their dilemma is what to do going forward. They're tied to Ardani for the length of their contracts. It was Kehkman,(who also has ties with Danilian) who bought out their contract with the Bolshoi. "Guest" means just that. If they should return they will not be affiliated with the Bolshoi as they were when they were on the roster. Memories are very long in the Bolshoi Theatre: Greater artists than this young couple have learned that the hard way. Moreover, on this end, Osipova and Vasiliev may have used up ABT's good will for trying to pull this time-conflict stunt . It was a very unwise move on their part, particularly because it was ABT that gave Osipova her debuts as Aurora and Juliet - roles that she coveted greatly which the Bolshoi denied her. As for the Mikhailovsky staff, I fervently hope that the theatre's salaries will be paid by the City - in case the doors are pad-locked.

Author:  ksneds [ Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Nikita Dolgushin has suffered a brain hemorrhage while coaching in France: ... -operation

Author:  allegro [ Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:35 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director!/Mikhailovsky_en/s ... 1259548673

"A stunning feast of dance": Jeffery Taylor (Sunday Express) on "Laurencia" at the Mikhailovsky theatre: ... etersburg-

Author:  Soutenu [ Wed Jul 04, 2012 3:40 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Wed. 25 July, 19.30 at St.Petersburg, i.e. 16.30 London time.
Direct internet transmission of "Don Quixote" from the Mikhailovsky Theatre: ... 25&sh=1132

Starring Natalya Osipova & Ivan Vasiliev.

Author:  allegro [ Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Financial Times
July 30, 2012

Don Quixote, Mikhailovsky Theatre, St Petersburg

By Gerald Dowler ... z223FUfPJp

Author:  Catherine Pawlick [ Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:09 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mikhailovsky Ballet appoints Nacho Duato Creative Director

Added to the growing list of new artists at the Mikhailovsky: Polina Semionova has just been appointed as guest artist for the coming season.

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