Posted on October 29, 2013
Russian culture minister Vladimir Medinsky has announced that Nikolai Tsiskaridze is to be appointed rector of the Vaganova Academy, St Petersburg’s leading ballet school. Maryinsky ballerina Uliana Lopatkina will succeed Altynai Asylmuratova as the school’s artistic director, combining the new role with her stage career. The current rector, Vera Dorofeeva, will be offered a new job. The minister indicated that Tsiskaridze will decide Asylmuratova’s future at the Academy.
The news comes as a surprise, given Tsiskaridze’s clashes with the Bolshoi, which he left after several reprimands and a court case. Tsiskaridze had claimed that the Bolshoi management were using the acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin as an excuse for a “witch hunt” against him.
Dorofeeva has led the Vaganova Academy since 2004, but had recently come into conflict with Valery Gergiev, the artistic director of the Maryinsky Theatre. Gergiev had complained about the preparation of young dancers, and hoped to make the Vaganova Academy part of the theatre. Gergiev acclaimed the new appointments, saying: “A masterly personnel decision! Such a couple are capable of resolving the most complex and ambitious task! Nikolai has already proved that he can nurture world-class artists. It’s wonderful that Uliana will not give up the stage to be the new artistic director – she is the idol of every student.”
The St Petersburg newspaper Fontanka (translated by Ismene Brown here) reports that the departures of Asylmuratova and Dorofeeva were the “price” of the continued independence of the Vaganova Academy.
Under the headline “Vera Dorofeeva quits Academy of Russian Ballet in tears”, Izvestia reports that the press conference about the Vaganova changes was interrupted by an incursion of “anxious” staff and students, when the minister of culture ordered the press to leave.
With thanks to Tony Devereux
Photograph: Uliana Lopatkina and Daniil Korsuntsev in the Maryinsky Ballet’s production of Swan Lake. Photograph: Frederika Davis