Ballet Stars Abandon the Bolshoi for Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky

Ballet Stars Abandon the Bolshoi for Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky

Published: November 16, 2011 (Issue # 1683)

The world of Russian ballet was rocked by controversy this week when dancers Natalya Osipova and Ivan Vasilyev announced they would leave Moscow’s celebrated Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theater for St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theater.

The married couple, who often star together in ballet productions, will perform for the first time on Dec. 1, premiering at the Mikhailovsky’s gala concert that will conclude the theater’s Grand Prix choreography competition.

“The famous dancers have performed on the theater’s stage many times, but only as invited stars. From Dec. 1 they will be performing as part of the company on five-year contracts. Osipova will be the theater’s prima ballerina. Vasilyev will be the theater’s principal dancer,” the Mikhailovsky Theater’s press service reported.

Osipova said that for her, a native of Moscow, the decision to move to the Mikhailovsky was “a very serious step.”

“The main reason I’m leaving the Bolshoi is the lack of repertoire. Everything I could dance there I had already performed. We strive for creative freedom. When life becomes too comfortable for me I feel a huge need to change something, to get rid of that comfortable and stable current,” Osipova said, Fontanka reported.

Vasilyev said that they needed to move on when it was difficult to change their work at the Bolshoi. He said the couple wanted to dance as much as possible, including dances that incorporated new choreography.

Nacho Duato, the creative head of the Mikhailovsky Theater called Osipova and Vasilyev “real stars, dancers of extraordinary talent, absolutely devoted to dancing.”

Millionaire businessman Vladimir Kekhman, general director of the Mikhailovsky Theater, said he first approached Osipova and Vasilyev with an offer to move to the Mikhailovsky a year and a half ago. But it took them time to make a decision, Fontanka reported.

The Bolshoi regrets losing such talented dancers and will always be ready to take Osipova and Vasilyev back, the theater’s press service said, RIA Novosti news agency reported.

The Bolshoi offered Osipova and Vasilyev an extensive repertoire and staged a special performance for them, the theater’s press service said, adding that it believes the dancers were manipulated into believing there weren’t enough opportunities for growth and leaving.

Nikolai Tsiskaridze, another principal dancer at the Bolshoi, said he couldn’t rule out that other dancers would leave the Bolshoi as well, indicating certain problems in the theater, RIA Novosti reported.

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