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The legend of Russian ballet Yuri Grigorovich: “the Theatre is manipulating the fates”

Very soon, the greatest choreographer of our time — a man whose name is inscribed in capital letters in the History of world culture, will be 90! Grigorovich — the whole epoch in Russian and Soviet art. Hero of Socialist Labor, laureate of Lenin and two State prizes, full cavalier of the order “For merits before Fatherland”, he was in Soviet times, the most influential figure in Soviet ballet. Causing shock and awe for more than 30 years, he’s iron hand ruled the ballet troupe of the Bolshoi theatre.

On the eve of the anniversary of the legendary choreographer gave “Moskovsky Komsomolets” exclusive interview.. .


photo: From personal archive

— Yuri, what do you think, is it possible to compare the management of the ballet and control of the army? And what, in your opinion, is easier to manage?

— Napoleon, as you know, believed that it is easier to manage troops than the Paris Opera, when he, the Emperor came here every day ballerina and demanded to turn the tide in their favor.

Not the head of the ballet to be a lady, pleasant in all respects, I have said this many times, hoping to be heard. Have to be tough. To refuse, to restrain, to establish a process, in which there are not one or two ambitious person, and two hundred and fifty, and they’ll be looking for the only right decision. Be kind and forgive everything — it’s the death of art. The discipline of creative work for artists, costumers, illuminators, the Directorate — not an empty phrase. I absolutely could not stand optional in the General case under the name “Russian ballet”.

The gentle charm of the ballet dictator

— At the Bolshoi theatre have called a dictator for rigid and authoritarian management style of the troupe — this method of control is inevitable?

— I attributed to totalitarian methods of government, but says nothing about how, for what and why I was adamant. To ensure that all went well, was in the mind, only then can we become strong. Not all have survived, with someone the relationship is terminated forever and no regrets — I gave freedom from myself, my plans and requirements. With most other communication continues, especially if it’s for business use.

Everyone has the right to be themselves, and it doesn’t have to coincide with my preferences. I just try to communicate with pleasant to me people, often professionals, relationships are built on absolute trust.

My principles have changed little since his youth ballet: either we, together, faithful to each other, or everyone is free to choose. Here’s one of the reasons why I never replied to the attacks against him, relying on the time itself will put everything in its place. My temper was never directed against the individual — I broke out solely on professional issues.

— That is soft and loose style of management is contraindicated ballet artists?

— Pity is not the best feeling in the work with the artists. Natalia Bessmertnova was engaged for many years in the class of Marina Timofeevna Semenova and she demanded ten times more than others, do not forgive anything. Once, on tour in London when Semenova wasn’t there, Natasha asked Ulanova to go to her class, the role of Raymonda, a lot of times to the point executed. Galina was surprised: “You a dance, what’s the problem?” But viewed from before and said, I can’t even find fault with something.

Or the other case. Crassus in “Spartacus” rehearsed Vladimir Levashov. And the farther, the clearer I understood that he would not dance — they need another. Finally gathered strength and said this is a wonderful artist, who spent a lot of effort in rehearsal. And he understood, and our relationship wouldn’t be ruined! Come and Maris Liepa became the legendary Crassus, created his best role. If I show pity that would be?

— You’ve never been a member of the Communist party, receiving over fifty awards from various States. Not bothered whether it’s career?

On the contrary, helped, made me more free. I was not obliged to comply with party discipline, to fit into the ideological schemes. Several times offered, I thanked and declined, saying, not ripe yet. And party influence on the theatre politics, of course, existed. We depended on many circumstances and not all of them could be circumvented. Some had to live, and some have successfully put in the service of creativity. This is the compromise — they are a part of life, regardless of whether they are of a party character (production, personal, creative).

It all depends on the “price issue”, as they say today. If you are forced to retreat from the base, the core beliefs, which are lined up your way, and have proved their loyalty, what are the compromises? I dismiss any talks and arguments about some mythical business use. And there are tactical concessions to circumstances is always difficult creative life that consists of dozens of conflicts. And this is not compromises, but a sober assessment of the situation is stupid and need to be considered. Another issue is that of life not dominated and ruled by us, people of creative professions, or the arts will slide to mediocrity.

— You were the Director of public concerts, opening ceremonies and closing of the Olympics-80, the goodwill Games, concerts, UNESCO, performances on the outdoor antique arenas. Do not remember whether the extreme cases and incidents, they often happen at these events?

— Occur and add to the experience, the happier your victory over circumstances. In the Greek Odeon of Herodes Atticus, ancient theatre for six thousand, we from Krasnodar troupe recently gave “Spartacus.” And that day in August, in Athens, the rain started and did not stop until the beginning of. Several times dried the scene, detained the start the audience understands that the play hangs in the balance. But still decided to start in one of the gaps in the sky. The first action has passed. The second passed. During the intermission before the third the clouds again began to thicken, tightened all the stars. We continue, in the hope of time before the next rain. The ballet comes to a lyrical climax — Adagio of Spartacus and Phrygia. And suddenly the wondrous sounds of Khachaturian cantilena of the love and farewell of the heroes of the sky was clear and the moon was out! The amphitheater burst into applause at first, the moon and the Greek gods responsible for the weather. And then Maria Vinogradova and Denis Rodicio, soloists of the Bolshoi theatre, which was a huge success. The next day Giselle with Anna Nikulina and Ruslan Skvortsov — moon again came out on time and hung in the scene at the cemetery. Understands the nature of the soul of the Russian ballet.

Some of the platforms we opened for dance — Royal albert hall in London where we gave ballet performances, and after our success began to open; on a special stage in the historical space of the Circus Maximus and the Roman Coliseum; on the mountain Akhun in Sochi, stadiums in Latin America. It is important not to get lost, and use new evidence, which we did with a Large ballet, which is difficult with something to knock the main task. We were just a Big ballet.

— You knew and interacted with many top leaders of States. When the United States Alexander Godunov asked for political asylum, as if you personally called Brezhnev, tried to settle the incident with then-President Carter? And who among the “powers that be” have made an impression on you?

Meetings there were many, but I’ve never tried to capture them in the soul, were treated as a Protocol event, and they the next day have disappeared from memory. And then I won’t tell you anything interesting.


photo: From personal archive
Natalia Bessmertnova and Yuri Grigorovich: the love of my life.

Other events-meetings around the world I remember — with my colleagues in the ballet the first wave of immigrants. They came backstage on our tour: Caralli, Bronislava Nijinska, Alexandra Danilova, Tamara toumanova, Serge Lifar, Leonide Massine, Anton Dolin, Yuri Zorich, Anatoly Wilczak, Lyudmila şollar. A feeling of kinship in language and spirit, though there was between us historical fault. Everyone could remember and show something from the past. Vera Alekseevna, Karalli in Vienna recalled at my request, a variation of the Aurora from the Moscow edition of “Sleeping beauty” that I knew; and Massine in Paris Studio showed us Natasha fragments of “Faun” and “Suite in white” — we wanted them to move. Igor Fedorovich Stravinsky quite well remembered the world premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps Nijinsky, whom he abused, but after a time was considered the most accurate and exact. I said to him: “How is it you get?”. And he: “Yes, time puts into place a lot”.

Meeting bright people here that remains forever: Dmitry Shostakovich, Aram Khachaturian, Marc Chagall, Simon Virsaladze, Fedor Lopukhov, Galina Ulanova, Grigory Kozintsev, Valery Dorer, Valentina Khodasevich, Leonard Bernstein, Sol hurok… will Not list them all.

And Sasha Godunov I’m sorry. Didn’t need to do yourself and frayed, and has not created anything significant.

“I entered many memories — are they mine?”

— Do you remember the time you were appointed chief choreographer of the Bolshoi? I heard that the important role played by Khrushchev, who saw on the tour of the Kirov ballet in the Kremlin Palace your ballet “Legend of love”.

— Memorable event, though, and absolutely not pretentious. By the time I put in a Big two great performances — “the Stone flower” and “Sleeping beauty.” I knew the company, I am quite accustomed to, even was the acting chief choreographer. The theatre was then headed by Yevgeny Svetlanov and said the higher leadership: “I need you here Grigorovich”. It was just that I stayed here. Khrushchev to my destination probably wasn’t involved. But Ekaterina Alekseevna Furtseva, Minister of culture of the USSR, of course. She studied theatre daily! Know artists have always stood on their side, took them at home often, not all pay her then good.

It was the official presentation of the Beethoven filled the room. I was advised to store his inaugural speech. But I was not prepared said as I thought, no loud promises, of spectacular slogans. Nothing. And went to work — and thirty-two years gone.

— Is it true that the chief choreographer you really wanted to see Maya Plisetskaya, who at the time had for you friendship and inspiration danced your ballet. They say the first time you were friends. Why was cooling?

— No, I think she wanted Igor Belsky. But my arrival was greeted very warmly. While she was dancing really, we were quite normal, not a conflictual relationship. She wrote to me from America, where he toured my “Stone flower” (she danced the Mistress of Copper mountain): “Yuri, you have the biggest success, everyone asks about you, Volodya (i.e., Vassiliev) says” etc. This letter seems to be published. She played five games in my ballet, and it was the best thing she did in Big: the Mistress of Copper mountain, mekhmeneh bahnu, Aurora, Odette—Odile. Aegina in “Spartacus” is not taken, the party was in over her head. I was happy with it.

The problems began when a new generation of artists took their place on stage, and I actively worked with them. She stopped to realize that a Large should not and will not belong to any ballerina. The theater has always been in relation to it literally open — it set his ballets, she was invited choreographers, painters, librettists, partners; conducted its recitals and was celebrated all the anniversaries. The performance of the role of Aurora in my production of “Sleeping beauty” initiated her nomination and her award of the Lenin prize. There was a big glory, the recognition, the government awards. As soon as she was suggesting something outside the Bolshoi theater — led groups, organized ballet competition, performances and so forth, suffered a complete collapse. No, her artistic career developed in Large, it is not to be offended.

— Will you forgive the unpleasant words in your address in her book of memoirs?

— Oh, the actor’s memoirs, it is possible to study the selective properties of human memory. I entered many memories — are they mine? I do not remember what is written there. However, this for me is long turn the page.

— What ended your conflict with Rudolf Nureyev in rehearsal “the Legend about love” at the Kirov theater? Subsequently, after his escape from the country you met?

— By today’s standards not a conflict, rather a production disorder. We have already reached the third action “Legends about love”, he rehearsed, and well, the role of Ferkhad. And suddenly I began to beg off. I am not at all satisfied: the work is going to end, it is necessary to concentrate. And, for a rehearsal I asked him to leave the room and never called. It probably would soon have exhausted itself, but has begun a tour of the theatre, had to interrupt the rehearsal. He went to Paris, where he returned only his Luggage and a blue leotard purchased for them to Ferkhad, he wanted to dance, “Legend”, we knew that.

Then, years later, we met as if nothing had happened in Athens, Paris, Milan, somewhere else. He asked me when had his mother die in Ufa, to help with the visa; I jumped in, and gave him 48 hours, he flew, but she has not learned. And our last meeting in the autumn of 1992 at the Paris Opera for the premiere of “La Bayadere” in his performance. He called then to the aid of Ninel Kurgapkina as a tutor. In his youth, they were partners, danced a lot together, especially in concerts, I remember one of their numbers, think “Waltz”.

And thirty years later, we three sat in the bed of the Opera, watching a performance, the choreography of which he absorbed from his youth, and recalled to each his own. It was a sad night: Rudolph was very poor, they brought the bow, or rather, he was sitting in a chair on the stage, and never get up. I congratulated him and everyone said goodbye and went to the reception. Ninel also, in the morning she flew home. From the theater we were sent one machine. We were driving and talking quietly about everything and, of course, Rudolph. We realized the last time he wanted to see on its premiere, in Leningrad, something dear from the past.

— And Serge Lifar? He wrote in his memoirs that he was ready, in exchange for the production of his ballets in a Large donation of the USSR revolver duel Dantes, who was mortally wounded Pushkin.

— Sergei Mikhailovich, we were tied by longstanding friendship. He was a guest of the first Moscow competition of ballet dancers and we have met, I have bulk from him the correspondence that there is no time to clean up and publish. Sad it was our last meeting in Lausanne. In 1986, I headed the jury of the international ballet competition in Nyon, Switzerland, near Geneva, and I was told by Countess Lillian Alefeld, close Lifar person that he wants me to see that defer does not. In the day of the contest, I took a drive to Lausanne, where he lived the last years forced after leaving the Paris Opera. On the doorstep Lillian: “hurry, Hurry…” I figured when I walked in. He didn’t get out of bed. Began to say some important words, thoughts jumped, she was confused. He talked about different things, but in General — about the Fate! Threw back the blanket with a terribly swollen legs: “my legs Lifar!” It was hard to listen, I could understand where the bitterness — from the expulsion from the Opera, and then from Paris. Military past and the allegations of collaboration was reaching for him, despite the fact that officially they were removed. Found a collaborator! All of Europe collaborated with Hitler, provided him with political and economic support against the Russians, we fought with no allies! And choreographer Serge Lifar after the war became the scapegoat…


photo: From personal archive
With Rudolf Nureyev.

Solely because of this we could not invite him to the Big productions, what he and I wanted. Almost agreed, was Furtseva, she personally promised, I was present during the conversation and took everything at face value. It was not — again collaboration with the Nazis in occupied Paris, and so to Overcome that was then impossible. Moreover, years later my enemies the “hung up” on me the blame for the fact that Lifar was not allowed to deliver a Large, and because Russia has lost Pushkin’s relics from his collection, which he promised to donate. There is nothing more stupid to think that I’m afraid of competition with someone from a prominent choreographers, it’s ridiculous. In General, it is on their conscience. They do not understand that the invitation to anyone from abroad was considered in the Soviet years at the top. And the theatre endlessly fooled negotiations, promises. Nevertheless, we had Alberto Alonso, Roland Petit, George Balanchine, Maurice béjart.

“Not everything disappears with the show, there’s something and speaks to us through the ages and generations”

— And at what point did you realize you wanted to be a choreographer?

— I was not twenty. After studying at the Academy of Russian ballet, I came as an actor in the troupe of the Kirov theatre. And the first set in the choreographic collective of the Palace of culture. Gorky in Leningrad. Before me were not professional artists, but strong and loyal dance enthusiasts. And I started not with shortcodes, but with the three-act ballet “Aistenok”. I needed multiple form with a developing storyline, vivid characters, conflicts — all of which later will arise in my ballet theatre. It all happened very naturally — I wanted to work and earn needed. 1947, as we were then… my jacket was not to leave the bows at the premiere, took from a friend.

But what it mattered to the youth! In my debut was Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova, Simon Bagratovich Virsaladze, Yuri I. Slonim. People of culture! It was important to support anything that they considered worthy. They even didn’t care that in front of them Amateur artists. The following year, I staged the ballet “Seven brothers” Varlamov, then dances in the operas at the Vaganova school. Choreography classes were parallel dance career and resulted in the first major production at the Kirov theatre “the Stone flower”.

— Is it true that “the Stone flower” you started to rehearse in appalling conditions — cramped room where artists jump hit his head on the ceiling?

Nothing monstrous. Rehearsing in school on Rossi street — in the same room with the stove, hence the expression “to dance from an oven”. First raised, after review and approval was postponed to the stage. Usual at that time, the practice school and the scene was closely associated. The creation of a “Stone flower” I remember quite different. Captured the mysterious atmosphere of Pavel Bazhov, his Mistress of Copper mountain, the conflict within human communities and the relationship between man and inanimate nature. Came to the leadership of the Kirov ballet Fedor Lopukhov made my request for a discussion. Decided that I will begin with the young, show, but we’ll see. Began — Irina Kolpakova, Alla Osipenko, Anatoly Gridin, Alexander Gribov, Irina Gensler and Anatoly Sapogov. I was young, and they are still younger. Joined Simon Virsaladze; he was particularly drawn to the Gypsy costume, he remembered Moscow studying at VKhUTEMAS, that is, 1920s-1930s, when he visited the zucchini and restaurants with Gypsy singing, he saw a baby Black…

Was an amazing atmosphere: often met Yuri Slonimsky: there were my age the artist Valery Dorrer. There I met Eugene L. Schwartz. Really took care of us Tatiana Vecheslova dance, which became a tutor with us she began a new life of a teacher. Traveled to Moscow to Mira Mendelson-Prokofiev, she took me to the office of Sergei Sergeyevich, on the open piano were the notes of “Stone flower”.

The success we had this huge, ballet said, it seems all the best people of the time, the performance went on tour abroad, without me, of course. In 1959 I was invited to put it in a Big theatre and Novosibirsk. In the Big dance Maya Plisetskaya and Nina Timofeeva, Ekaterina Maximova and Marina Kondratieff, Nikolai Fadeyechev and Vladimir Vasiliev. And later, “Stone flower”, I put in Stockholm, Tallinn, and Sofia. Started a new life.

— If I told you your mother Claudia alfredovna about your brother and your uncle George rose flower, artist of the Mariinsky theatre and the famous participant of Diaghilev’s seasons in Paris? Reported abroad in literature on václav nijinska, a classmate whose main rival early in his career he was? In these works and the biographies of Nijinsky meet conflicting information about it are called different dates of death.

— I’ve never seen him since he was born ten years after his mysterious death. But I have been compared to him often when I came to ballet school outside of Russia, because there worked teachers and comrades rose flower. In particular, it was believed, I inherited his high jump and role of a grotesque dancer.

In my archive there is a photo of uncle George in Rome, 1910-ies, one of Diaghilev’s trips. He writes on the back: “All I’m Italian, just not able to talk. I was shot on the ruins of the circus of the Coliseum, and then the Palace of Nero, the ruins too”. I visited the place and remembered his message from afar.

Another associated with it a supernatural event: the old dressing room of the Kirov theatre for a long time even after the next inventory, decided to give it to some store of theatrical costumes or hire; and there, among other things, I found a small, child’s suit from “the Nutcracker”, on the inside of which was written the name of the artist — George Rosy! Oh, my, it turns out, as a child, participated in the very first, is not exactly preserved even in the descriptions of “the Nutcracker.”

Yes, the theater is manipulating time and fate, throws and such greetings from the distant past. So, not everything disappears with the show, there’s something and speaks to us through the ages and generations.

— Your Muse, your lover and life companion was the ballerina Natalia Bessmertnova, on which you wrote almost all of his ballets? Is there a show that you don’t have time for it to create?

— My support in life and in work has always been Natalia Bessmertnova, ballerina and wife. Her death I’m still hard. In order not to break, continue to work. I saw her in the title role in “the Master and Margarita”, a ballet to the music of Krzysztof Penderecki, which we have plotted. Someone of the critics wrote that Bessmertnova in the “Golden age” gives this the dual nature of the heroine: the day — one night — another.

— Yuri, what do you think, what is the secret of longevity?

— Genes and interest in the work.

— Say, you basically give up the mobile phone, not even asking about the computer? Not attracted to modern technology or it is very distracting while you work?

— No, why, I have a mobile, though not the latest model, not stealing their change, and need to be retrained.

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