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© Ismene Brown 1992-2022


My blogs and translations of interesting press reports (mostly from Russian or French) about ballet, dance & classical music. All translations are mine, with sources supplied. I am not responsible for the contents of others' articles, but my commentaries are of course mine. My own articles are filed under ARTICLES, in the menu above.  If you want to cite any material, please credit me for my work & link to Do comment at @ismeneb on Twitter.

Bolshoi Nureyev ballet premieres at last

09 DEC  17     Nureyev, the most notorious new production in the Bolshoi Ballet’s modern history, premiered last night in Moscow to a 15-minute standing ovation and exclamations of official approval even by Putin’s press secretary – but the ballet’s creator and director languished under house arrest, refused permission to see his own ballet. READ ON>

Osipova: 'I won't leave the Royal Ballet'

06 SEP  17     Natalia Osipova has declared in a Russian interview that she wants to stay with the Royal Ballet for the rest of her career, barring something "momentous" in her love life. She talked with affection about her "favourite people" being in London at Covent Garden, and her happiness  READ ON>

Bolshoi trustees 'want Nureyev premiere'

28 JUL  17     It's reported from Moscow that the sensationally cancelled new Bolshoi ballet about Rudolf Nureyev may be premiered by the end of this year, after Bolshoi trustees - including Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich - overruled the theatre boss's announcement.   READ ON>

'Nureyev' ballet will go on, insists Urin

10 JUL  17     The Bolshoi's cancelled Nureyev ballet will be premiered next year, without alterations or censorship, insisted the Bolshoi Theatre chief today at a tense press conference about the sudden withdrawal of what had been heralded as the most important premiere in Russia's capital.   READ ON>

Ballet's magician Vikharev is gone

08 JUN  17     This is an exceptionally passionate and beautiful eulogy to the shocking death of the ballet reconstructor Sergei Vikharev, written by Kommersant's ballet critic Tatiana Kuznetsova. Vikharev, 55, died at the dentist's in St Petersburg last Friday, newspapers report,     READ ON>

RIP wild child Trisha Brown

27 MAR 17     Trisha Brown is worth mourning. She was a charmer among radicals, one of the dancemakers whose work I most looked forward to following, knowing it might be not just challengingly new, but also bring strange, amusing and emotive associations.   READ ON>

Vaziev monitors Bolshoi dancers by CCTV

05 MAR 17     Nearly a year into his leadership of the Bolshoi Ballet, Makhar Vaziev has confirmed that he is using CCTV to monitor dancers' rehearsals from his office. In a large and fascinating interview  READ ON>

Urin to stay on as Bolshoi chief

17 FEB 17     Great news for lovers of order, peace and light within the Bolshoi. It's announced today that the genial Bolshoi Theatre chief Vladimir Urin is to stay on for a further term after his contract comes up next year. READ ON>

Prima ballerina Alexandrova quits Bolshoi

02 FEB 17     The Bolshoi Ballet's prima ballerina Maria Alexandrova has resigned from the theatre, described by colleagues as "shocking news". A popular figure in London on Bolshoi tours, Alexandrova, who is 38, announced her decision on Instagram without specifying reasons,  READ ON>

The Nutcracker is 'occult', declares bishop

13 JAN 17       Just as you thought things couldn’t get any stranger in the world, a leading Russian bishop has had The Nutcracker ballet banned from his city's theatre at Christmas because it is an ‘occult’ production about a 'werewolf prince'.   READ ON>

Osipova slays Russia in her Juliet debut

09 JAN 17       A major review here of a major event in Russia of interest to Brits - Natalia Osipova's long-awaited debut in MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet in her home country. She was dancing in Perm, the first Russian city to be awarded the performing rights for the worldwide hit READ ON>

Medvedev tells Medinsky to pipe down

15 DEC  16       A day after it emerged that Culture Minister Medinsky is set to discuss a new arts 'conflicts' body which some believe is intended to censor artistic freedom, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev has urged his colleague to use restraint in his statements.   READ ON>

Arts 'conflicts' committee takes next step

14 DEC  16       Swift movement is being made on the proposal for a new arts 'conflicts' committee in Russia, headed by the conservative Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky. Days after its proposal, Medinsky has diaried a session with the Theatrical Union head to discuss the establishment  READ ON>

New Russian push for state arts censorship

09 DEC  16      State censorship is being mooted by prominent Russians on state culture bodies aimed to restrain artists and theatres from contributing to a post-Soviet stream of unhindered 'vulgarity and filth' on screen and stage.  READ ON>

Urin confuses over Dmitrichenko 'return'

01 DEC  16     Bolshoi Theatre chief Vladimir Urin has deepened the confusion about the current access to Bolshoi Ballet classes by the acid attack dancer, Pavel Dmitrichenko, by failing to rule out his possible return to the company itself.  READ ON>

Can Russians learn from a Frenchman?

30 NOV  16     Can a Frenchman overcome the language barrier and can Russians overcome a culture barrier, asks Kommersant's distinguished ballet critic Tatiana Kuznetsova in a doubtful commentary on the new appointment of Paris star Laurent Hilaire to Moscow's Stanislavsky ballet.  READ ON>

Laurent Hilaire to head Moscow's Stasik

20 NOV  16     Only a month after Bolshoi star Andrei Uvarov was named acting head of Moscow's second ballet company, the Stanislavsky, he has suddenly been supplanted by the great Paris star Laurent Hilaire, a Nureyev protégé, who will become the Stanislavsky's unconditional new chief   READ ON>

Filin's attacker 'doing class at Bolshoi'

31 OCT  16    Pavel Dmitrichenko, the Bolshoi dancer jailed for ordering the infamous acid attack on his boss at Russia's chief ballet company, is reported to have been back in the Bolshoi doing ballet class for the past month, hoping to return to the stage. READ ON>

Uvarov succeeds Zelensky at Stasik

12 OCT 16      The third of the Bolshoi's golden trio of male stars, Andrei Uvarov, has been appointed to head the Stanislavsky Ballet, in the footsteps of the ex-Kirov star Igor Zelensky - who has failed in his ambitious attempt to run three companies at once, in Novosibirsk, Moscow and Munich. READ ON>

After London tour, Vaziev looks ahead

19 AUG 16     Fresh from the London tour, new Bolshoi Ballet director Makhar Vaziev has given a long interview summing up his feelings about it and his intentions for the future...   READ ON>

Dmitrichenko out on parole after two years

1 JUN 16      Sergei Filin's attacker, former Bolshoi Ballet soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko, has been released on parole two years into his five-and-a-half-year sentence. The dancer reportedly had seven commendations in jail for good behaviour   READ ON>

Gergiev no .2 on Russia's culture rich list

26 MAY 16   Someone in Russian culture got even richer than Valery Gergiev last year. Figures of salaries for leading figures in the Russian culture world released by the Ministry of Culture show that Mariinsky chief Gergiev officially earned £1.4million last year, but was tipped out of his previous top spot on the list by the well-connected director of capital works at the Pushkin Museum. READ ON>

The outsider who got inside the Bolshoi

3 MAR 16   Here is a riveting Russian interview recently with Mark Franchetti, maker of the splendid Bolshoi Babylon documentary film, which tells a great deal about the contrast between the chilly exterior Russia presents the West and the realities Franchetti found.  READ ON>

Filin to stay on at Bolshoi

3 MAR 16   Sergei Filin has finally confirmed that he will be staying at the Bolshoi Ballet, after his contract as artistic director expires in two weeks' time, to head a new choreographers programme, as proposed by the theatre's chief Vladimir Urin last July. READ ON>

The interview that brought Millepied down

6  FEB 16   This is the interview that apparently doomed Benjamin Millepied's short, turbulent reign as Paris Opera Ballet director, precipitating his resignation two days ago. It was conducted with Le Figaro's dance critic Ariane Bavelier last month, and Millepied then repeated his harsh criticism   READ ON>

Lefèvre comments on Millepied resignation

4 FEB 16       Further reactions to Millepied's departure from his predecessor, the longstanding Paris Opera Ballet director Brigitte Lefèvre and one of the company's stars shed further light on the misfit between the departing director and the company.   READ ON>

Dupont new POB chief, Millepied quits

4 FEB 16       LATEST: The great Paris Opera ballerina Aurélie Dupont has been announced the successor to Benjamin Millepied, who today resigned as director of the Paris Opera Ballet after little more than a year in the job.   READ ON>

Russian reactions to 'Bolshoi Babylon' doc

2 FEB 16        The new British documentary about the Bolshoi Ballet, Bolshoi Babylon, will not be watched - in public, at least - by two of its central focuses, the stricken artistic director Sergei Filin and his rival Nikolai Tsiskaridze, when it opens in St Petersburg this week.  READ ON>

Radical Urin admits fear of failure

9 DEC  15       The imminent release in Britain of Bolshoi Babylon, a new British film doc about the tense aftermath of the Bolshoi Ballet acid attack on Sergei Filin - which I’ve reviewed in The Spectator this week - coincides happily with a huge Q&A with Bolshoi chief Vladimir Urin in connection with his nomination   READ ON>

'Blasphemous' Tannhäuser wins people's award

8 DEC  15        A Russian production of Wagner's opera Tannhaüser which was accused by the Russian Orthodox Church of blasphemy, and caused the sacking of the theatre's director and the destruction of its sets, won a popular vote in a prominent theatre awards ceremony run by two Russian newspapers last night.  READ ON>

Ashton's Sylvia has found a true home in Russia

26 NOV 15        Frederick Ashton’s ballets have been going down a storm in St Petersburg with the Mariinsky dancers, according to a long article on the French balletomane website Dansomanie primarily analysing last month’s performances of Sylvia  READ ON>

Polunin and Ananiashvili 'miracle' in Ashton

6 NOV 15      Frederick Ashton's increasing popularity in Russia is shown in a new triple bill at the Stanislavsky Ballet starring Sergei Polunin in Rhapsody and Marguerite and Armand with Nina Ananiashvili. Tatiana Kuznetsova of Kommersant was swept away  READ ON>

Osipova to star at Sadler's Wells

5 NOV 15      Natalia Osipova's double whammy announcement of guesting with the Bolshoi in 2016 and her starring in a new choreography evening with Sergei Polunin at Sadler's Wells, London, next summer  READ ON>

Osipova rejoins Bolshoi as guest star

3 NOV 15        Royal Ballet star and former Bolshoi wunderkind Natalia Osipova is rejoining her old company as a guest star, the theatre chief announced today. She is contracted to dance a list of familiar classical roles over the season, and will be with the Bolshoi tour to London READ ON>

'The crucial appointment will be in 2018'

3 NOV 15       Kommersant critic Tatiana Kuznetsova takes the gloves off in her assessment of Makhar Vaziev's appointment as the next Bolshoi Ballet director. She states her approval of Sergei Filin's directorship, along with those of Alexei Fadeyechev and Alexei Ratmansky, but says that the deep opposition   READ ON>

Tsiskaridze: 'Russian ballet still unequalled'

1 NOV 15   Here's an interview with Nikolai Tsiskaridze focusing on his stewardship of the Vaganova Ballet Academy, two years after he arrived as acting Rector. He talks about conflicts between the needs of ballet teaching and the forest of regulations   READ ON>

Tsiskaridze had Rector job before 'elections'

29 OCT 15        Naturally, reporters hotfooted it to Nikolai Tsiskaridze for his reaction to the appointment of Filin's successor as ballet director Makhar Vaziev this week. It was a job that for long Tsiskaridze himself stated his own ambitions   READ ON>

Bolshoi veterans hail Vaziev appointment

29 OCT 15       Izvestia is the one newspaper that packs in culture coverage, especially so in anything to do with the Bolshoi. So it surprised me to see its report on the appointment of Makhar Vaziev as the next chief for the Bolshoi Ballet buried down-page  READ ON>  

Makhar Vaziev appointed Bolshoi ballet director

26 OCT 15   This morning the white smoke finally went up over Moscow's Theatre Square. Former Mariinsky Ballet leader Makhar Vaziev was named as the next Bolshoi Ballet director, succeeding Sergei Filin next year. Here's the revealing interview READ ON>

Why Urin does not need 'disloyal' Filin

23 OCT 15   As still no news emerges from the Bolshoi about Vladimir Urin's choice of successor to Sergei Filin, and the changed job now on offer, I have translated an article which airs the strength of antipathy Filin has attracted, including (allegedly) from his boss  READ ON>

Filin working with champion skater

25 SEP 15      While Sergei Filin labours with woes in his day-job as Bolshoi ballet director, he is reportedly co-choreographing a new routine for Russia’s celebrated  figure-skating champion, Evgeniy Plyushchenko, a double Olympics gold medallist.   READ ON>

Filin to head Bolshoi choreography programme?

24 SEP 15      With still no news about the next Bolshoi ballet director, Vladimir Urin today dropped a large hint that he is trying to persuade the present director Sergei Filin into running a Bolshoi programme to develop new choreographers. Evidently, though, it is not proving perfectly easy to get an agreement between   READ ON>

Urin: Rumours are exaggerated

11 SEP 15      Bolshoi chief Vladimir Urin has revealed that he has already decided who the next ballet director will be, succeeding Sergei Filin, but did not announce it at the season opening on Thursday because it would have hijacked the announcements on  READ ON>

Delay in announcing Filin’s successor at Bolshoi

11 SEP 15     No announcement was forthcoming today at the Bolshoi Ballet’s opening assembly of who will succeed Sergei Filin as ballet director. Vladimir Urin, the theatre’s chief, had said he would introduce the next ballet leader today, but in the event said this would now take place towards READ ON>

English Wiki serves Russia’s music heroes better

29 AUG 15      Fascinating - Russian Wikipedia has admitted that its articles on the giants of Russian music are much inferior to those on English Wikipedia. A Russian Wiki editor revealed this week that names such as Sergei Prokofiev, Dmitri Shostakovich, Sviatoslav Richter, David Oistrakh READ ON>

Melodiya releases unknown Richter recordings  

28 AUG 15      The centenary of the tremendous Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter is being marked by a massive 50-CD set this autumn from Melodiya, the old Soviet Union’s iconic state record label. According to this Izvestiya report, it is to include some home audio of his rehearsing and unreleased recordings  READ ON>

Heroic, if not of our time

3 AUG 15      Here’s a detailed and expressive review of Yuri Possokhov’s new full-length ballet for the Bolshoi based on Lermontov’s novel, A Hero of Our Time. Commissioned by Sergei Filin as one of his steady stream of new creations for the Moscow company, it was expected by some - considering its radical, headline-making director Kirill Serebrennikov - to upset READ ON>

Bolshoi abolishes Filin’s job

30 JUL 15      Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi Ballet artistic director whose sight was maimed by an acid attack organized by a disgruntled dancer, will lose his post when his contract expires next year. Bolshoi Theatre chief Vladimir Urin announced today that he is abolishing  READ ON>

Parlons Piano with Debargue

24 JUL 15      Here’s a long, satisfying interview by French music mag Parlons Piano with Lucas Debargue. It develops many points Debargue and I discussed when I met him the other week at the Tchaikovsky competition  READ ON>

The first interview with Lucas Debargue

15 JUL 15      This month I was the first English-language journalist to interview the young French pianist Lucas Debargue, whose musicianship and individuality of approach have become the story of the 15th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow  READ ON>

Debargue's teacher explains his uniqueness

7 JUL 15      The extraordinary young French pianist Lucas Debargue, whose natural artistry captivated the audience at the Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition in Russia last week, has generated many questions about the nature of his talent and lack of conventional training. This interview with his teacher  READ ON>

No gay Eisenstein, Russians tell Greenaway

25 MAY 15    This isn’t a ballet story, but it is an indicator of the current level of intervention by the Russian state in artistic matters. The prominent British filmmaker Peter Greenaway is reported to have agreed to remove references to the homosexuality of the famed Soviet director Sergei   READ ON>

Claude Bessy speaks frankly

18 MAY 15   On the last evening of the Paris Opera Ballet’s star Aurélie Dupont’s performing career tonight, I’ve unearthed two 2013 interviews given to Moscow’s Kommersant by her former teacher, the Paris Opera Ballet School's iron lady, Claude Bessy. Dupont had a bristly relationship with Bessy, which her old teacher describes with amazing frankness READ ON>

Brits don't impress at Russian world ballet gala

29 APR 15    Leading Moscow dance critic Tatiana Kuznetsova doesn’t think much of the Royal Ballet’s Melissa Hamilton and Eric Underwood, guesting at the large St Petersburg Dance Open ballet gala. Nor is she very kind to ex-Bolshoi whizkid Ivan Vasiliev  READ ON>  

Ivan Vasiliev’s Ivan is superbly terrible

15 APR 15     Ivan Vasiliev’s debut in Grigorovich’s Ivan the Terrible at the his old company, the Bolshoi, was, by the reckoning of Kommersant’s dance critic Tatiana Kuznetsova, extraordinary. Her review does that fascinating Russian thing of saying he is so brilliant in one kind of dancing because he is so bad in another  READ ON>  

Lunkina finally resigns from the Bolshoi

28 MAR 15   Svetlana Lunkina, the Bolshoi ballerina who moved to Canada three  years ago claiming to feel under threat in Moscow, has apparently finally resigned from the company, effective this summer.  READ ON>

Hamlet gets a hammering from a friend

15 MAR 15   The Bolshoi Ballet’s new contemporary creation, Hamlet, directed by British director Declan Donnellan of Cheek By Jowl and choreographed by Radu Poklitaru, has had an absolute pasting from a major Moscow dance critic, Tatiana Kuznetsova in Kommersant READ ON>

Reactions to Donnellan & Poklitaru's Hamlet ballet

13 MAR 15    The first reactions are in to the world premiere this week of the Bolshoi Ballet’s new contemporary creation, Hamlet, directed by British director Declan Donnellan of Cheek By Jowl and choreographed by Radu Poklitaru, who has strong Ukrainian affiliations   READ ON>

Leviathan film director is asked if he’s a US spy

22 FEB 15     On the eve of the Oscars tonight, the controversial Russian director whose film Leviathan is nominated for best foreign film gave a long, revealing interview to Izvestia in which he rejects his critics’ claim that he is anti-Russian and asks Russians to see the film before jumping to conclusions   READ ON>  

Urin admits he's become conservative

31 JAN 15   Bolshoi chief Vladimir Urin has confessed that he has become a conservative in his policies, due to political and public pressures, against his instincts as a moderniser at the Stanislavsky Theatre, his previous job as leader.  READ ON>

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