Since the announcement, it is amazing what versions the overzealous public has invented. The main version is a conspiracy of the management of the Bolshoi and Culture Ministry against the ballet’s creators. In this version, there was a call from above banning the performance as immoral.
All of these conspiracy theories cast doubt on the right of the theater to pass judgments and make decisions about its own repertoire. They also deny the Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky the right to speak (if he did).
But the theater’s director, Vladimir Urin, has the right — in fact, the obligation — to make such decisions if need be. And the culture minister cannot be barred from involvement in one of the most important cultural institutions under his direction.
Not even a special press briefing at the theater could dispel the tension. Urin gave an almost hour-by-hour account of how he decided to postpone the premiere because it was not yet ready. And knowing the current style of work at the theater, I’d be amazed if it’s ready by the new date.
The thing is that everyone is incredibly busy with other projects. They carve out time to rehearse at the Bolshoi in-between their other obligations. They send stand-ins, don’t show up for their rehearsals, and meet whenever they can — not every day.
The director’s honest statement ruined everyone’s conspiracy theories, despite attempts to question him, catch him in discrepancies, or challenge him with preposterous notions in order to buttress their amateur arguments.
Liberal journalists — not all of them, of course — are prepared to believe anything but the truth. And the truth is that the choreographer Yury Possokhov did not meet his deadline, whole sections for the corps de ballet were still missing, and many dancers had yet to rehearse on the Bolshoi’s stage.
A ballet cannot be shown in this state. Even the creators agreed with that — especially after their recent success.
But that’s not very interesting. It is far more interesting to create a fictional reality, mixing lies and truth, and topping it all off with a burning social issue.
How politicized our society is if it can be divided so easily by nothing more than a routine production problem.
Now everyone is waiting for May 2018 when the final production is ready to debut. But the problem remains: People are still incredibly busy with other projects. They’re already saying that they’ll fly in for a couple of days here and there, work through their stand-ins, and so on.
Alexander Kolesnikov is a Russian theater critic.