Catherine Pawlick wrote:
. . . I personally think this is a dangerous move, and a shame too. Messerer needs to be kept on board, and the classics need to remain in the Mikhailovsky's repertoire. Its not to say new works cannot be introduced but the core of the Mikhailovsky is classical ballet. There are not hundreds of companies who have its history. Let's preserve what is of value, at the least.
"If it isn't broke, don't fix it." This is seismic. This is literally throwing the baby out with the bath water. These articles are very disturbing. This experiment is being perpetrated without thinking carefully about the consequences. If this is an epic fail, (as I strongly feel it will be), what's the owner's plan B? I'm extremely afraid for the Mikhailovsky Ballet. A name change may be in order. The majority of Duato's work (like most contemporary dance works) doesn't require a stage full of classical ballet
dancers en pointe. Consequently, most of the corps de ballet will be displaced. Where and to whom shall they go?
Some principals may fare well and get auditions and other jobs, but lower ranked soloists and the corps? They may fare well if they're exceptionally talented, but not necessarily. Petersburg's companies are populated (mostly), with those who didn't make the Mariinsky cut at graduation performances. It's difficult for classically trained bodies to change their style of movement, when it's antithetical to all they've been taught. Some will be able to make the transition. But what about those who can't adapt to Duato's expecations? Duato is in for severe culture shock: Russian
ballet dancers, teachers, coaches and critics are very vocal about what is danced and how it's danced. They have an open mind, yes - as long as Petersburg tradition
is adhered to. One need look no further than the treatment that Sergei Vikharev received at the Mariinsky regarding the Petipa reconstructions; and that brohaha was about what was and wasn't authentic Petipa - not modern dance. Moreover, what will happen to the coaches and teachers? Ballet is their area of expertise; modern dance and Nacho Duato aren't.
I also totally agree with an earlier poster that there is no large audience for contemporary dance in Russia in general and Petersburg in particular. Duato may find an audience, but I don't think he'd ever be able to compete with the establishment. Consider the choices that the Petersburg audience enjoys during the regular season. Would they attend a classical ballet performance at the Mariinsky, the Music & Comedy (Palace) Theatre, the Hermitage or Alexandrinsky Theatres, or Duato's new work at the Mikhailovsky on the same night? Hypothetically, what if Lopatkina at the Mariinsky, and
Kolesnikova at the Alexandrinsky Theatre were both dancing "Swan Lake" on the same night that a new Duato work was being performed? My guess is that the Petersburg audience would split in two and would sell out both "Lakes," not Duato.
Moreover, it's difficult if not impossible to start over in another theatre and take a demotion if you were a Principal or leading soloist. Some dancers can do this if they have connections. If you're an outsider and not a mega star, you'll have to get in line behind the company natives who are waiting to promote. It's also difficult to pull up stakes and leave the country to find work, especially in this global recession. Finally, I don't believe that the Petersburg critics, pedagogues, or babushki will still for (mostly) Vaganova trained bodies with turned-in bare feet, being manipulated by a Spanish Wayne MacGregor.