Nobody likes to be belittled, and Russia’s biggest theater is no exception. The Bolshoi is in the midst of a massive row over ballet superstar Nikolay Tsiskaridze’s sacking: rumor has it the iconic theater did not take kindly to his critical remarks.
Tsiskaridze, who is one of Russia's most celebrated artists, has received official notice that his contract as a ballet teacher at the Bolshoi will be cut short.
The theater maintains that it needs a ballet teacher who, unlike the eminent soloist, could work full-time.
The notice reportedly came direct from the Bolshoi's legendary choreographer Yury Grigorovich, and was also said to be prompted by new practice following the venue’s massive six-year renovation.
When the Bolshoi reopened at the end of October, unveiling the most meticulous and expensive restoration in the history of theater, critical voices were raised over the results, Tsiskaridze the strongest among them.
The dancer was quoted as saying he had not expected such poor results after six years of repair works worth over $700 million and supervised by the Kremlin. The star slammed the acoustics, make-up and rehearsal rooms.
“I'm absolutely sure that this step by the Bolshoi Theater proceeds exclusively from the desire to take revenge and teach a lesson to others, who might feel a desire to criticize the Bolshoi in the future,” Tsiskaridze was quoted as declaring.
On top of this, it seems the theater's trade union, supposed to help artists assert their rights, has failed to resolve the situation for one simple reason. Tsiskaridze explained that the head of the ballet company, Sergey Filin, also holds the position of the trade union's leader.
“Therefore, all complaints against Filin as the leader of the Bolshoi ballet end up being considered precisely by him. It's a dead-end situation, and some of my colleagues like the soloist Andrey Uvarov, who had to leave the theater not long ago, have already paid the price for trying to stand against Filin,” Tsiskaridze explained.
The Bolshoi has announced that a female choreographer, Regina Nikiforova, will replace Nikolay Tsiskaridze and his colleague Yan Godovsky. She will be engaged with the theater full-time.
“As far as I know, by law, if they needed a teacher full-time, they had to offer the position to me first. But they didn't. And if they don't in the future, asking someone else to take it, I'll go to court,” Tsiskaridze warns.
The dancer insists he is not going to leave the Bolshoi voluntarily.
“The Bolshoi is my life,” he summed up.