This story originally appeared in the October/November 2014 issue of Pointe.
This fall, the Mikhailovsky Ballet lands in the U.S. for the first time, performing at the David H. Koch Theater in New York City November 11–23, and at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in California November 28–30. The company has increasingly positioned itself as a threat to the Mariinsky Ballet and the Bolshoi Ballet, though it continues to grapple with internal problems.
The Mikhailovsky currently operates without an artistic director. Nacho Duato left the job for Berlin last season but remains resident choreographer. Ballet master in chief Mikhail Messerer oversees the company on a daily basis, and is looking for another modern choreographer to step in—potentially as artistic director. "We want our dancers to have modern work created on them," Messerer says.
Angelina Vorontsova and Victor Lebedev in "Don Quixote." Stas Levshin, Courtesy Mikhailovsky.
The company has been successful under businessman Vladimir Kekhman—general director since 2007—but recent turnover has called its stability into question. The arrival and swift departure of artistic advisor and répétiteur Altynai Asylmuratova, and principal dancers Kristina Shapran and Oksana Bondareva, have contributed to a feeling of uncertainty.
International stars Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev remain on the roster, and despite other commitments, will lead the U.S. tour. With four programs on offer, including a triple bill of three centuries of Russian ballet, audiences will have an opportunity to see the company's breadth.
"I thought we needed to show our current state, that is our new works and stars," says Messerer.