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Galina Stepanenko discusses Bolshoi plans

Posted on February 11, 2013

bolshoi andrew-bayda-fotolia.comGalina Stepanenko, acting director of the Bolshoi Ballet, has spoken to the Russian newspaper Izvestia about plans for the company.

 

Stepanenko, who danced with the Bolshoi until last year, is its first female director. She stepped in to lead the company during the absence of Sergei Filin, who was assaulted in an acid attack and is still recovering. Filin himself suggested that she take charge, to Stepanenko’s own surprise.

 

Plans are already in place for the immediate future, including a major London season, a shorter visit to Australia, a festival marking the centenary of The Rite of Spring and productions of Mats Ek’s Apartment and the Bolshoi premiere of Cranko’s Onegin.

 

Stepanenko was asked about rumours that Wayne McGregor had postponed his proposed new production of The Rite of Spring due to inadequate preparation time and because his chosen dancers were committed to other ballets. Stepanenko denied this, saying that the ballet had been planned for some years, with all McGregor’s conditions fulfilled. She said that he and the Bolshoi management had together decided to defer the production until Filin was fully recovered.

 

In place of the McGregor production, a new version will be created by Tatiana Baganova. Stepanenko said the choice was made immediately, with Filin’s support. She called Baganova a very courageous woman who undertook to make a production at short notice, creating it almost from scratch with artist Alexander Shishkin. Baganova has already spent a day at the Bolshoi, and will start work on February 15. Asked whether this would result in two productions of The Rite of Spring, Stepanenko said, “Why not?”

 

Ek’s assistants and his wife have already started work on Kvartira, holding several weeks of rehearsals. Ek himself has now arrived to work on the ballet. Asked if Ek feared to come to Russia, following the acid attack on Filin, Stepanenko replied that Ek is a courageous man.

 

Izvestia also reports that Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who had criticised the Bolshoi’s directorship in the past, continues to work at the Bolshoi, teaching, rehearsing and dancing. Tsiskaridze, who has been questioned by police investigating the attack on Filin, recently told the BBC that the ballet company had started a “witch hunt” against him, and urged the Russian government to sack the entire management of the theatre.

 

With thanks to Tony Devereux for translation and additional reporting.

 

Picture: The Bolshoi Theatre. Photograph: Andrew Bayda, fotolia.com

Zoë was born in Edinburgh, and saw her first dance performances at the Festival there. She is the dance critic of The Independent, and has also written for The Independent on Sunday, The Scotsman and Dancing Times. In 2002, she received her doctorate from the University of York for a thesis on “Nationhood and epic romance: Ariosto, Sidney, Spenser”. She is the author of The Royal Ballet: 75 Years and The Ballet Lover’s Companion.

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