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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Disgruntled Bolshoi Votes to Delay 'Giselle'

Bolshoi performers voted Friday to delay a performance next Thursday of "Giselle" by 20 minutes as an act of protest against the general director Vladimir Kokonin and recent measures to reform the theater.


"A future without a strike is impossible," said Yury Udalov, a member of the Bolshoi chorus. "We've said 'no' to our director before but nobody listened."


Performers have criticized Kokonin following recent measures to introduce a collegium to oversee artistic standards at the Bolshoi and to replace lifetime tenure with a contract system. While performers also voted against these measures, and against Kokonin, the votes have no legal standing.


The vote comes in the midst of a bitter feud between Kokonin and the theater's artistic director, Yury Grigorovich, who has resisted the general director's attempts at reform. Grigorovich has also been widely criticized for his failure to introduce new or adventurous works into the theater's repertoire.


Grigorovich's future is uncertain at best. The Culture Ministry said Tuesday that he was being replaced by dancer and choreographer Vladimir Vasiliev, an ardent supporter of the contract system. But the next day the ministry backed away from the issue, saying no official decree has been signed.


Many of those who voted against Kokonin are also wary of change.


"I want the theater to go well," said ballet soloist Igor Yulov. "But for 200 years it has been going according to its own system and to reform it now is like giving birth to a premature child."


Grigorovich's supporters complain that performers have not been consulted about reform, and say that the contract system is unfeasible until the security of tenures can be replaced with higher salaries.