The Bolshoi Ballet has said it will not continue with its most famous male dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze after the end of June, according to The New York Times. This comes after comments from Tsiskaridze earlier this year against leadership at the company.
The 39-year old Tsiskaridze has been a part of the Bolshoi Ballet for about 20 years and, although he is at the tail-end of a prestigious career, he still has a big following. He also has quite a bit of sway with some powerful people in Moscow.
The current situation was stirred in January after the artistic director for the company was attacked by a masked perpetrator. After the incident Tsiskaridze said the organization was heading in such a terrible direction that the people at the top should be fired.
His recent release from the company came as a surprise to many, along with the statement about the release on June 8. According to a source in the Russian-based newspaper Izvestia, the dancer’s supporters will publicly protest the company during the week.
The ballet’s contract with the Tsiskaridze ends on June 30. The leadership will not extend it, said Bolshoi Spokeswoman Katerina Novika.
“He had a one-year, short-term contract, and this contract is over,” said Novika. “The Bolshoi’s leadership decided not to renew it.”
Concerning the legal standing in which the Bolshoi has to make this decision she added, “They do not have to give reasons for this.”
Even though Tsiskaridze has been vocal about his opposition to leadership, he only commented about the decision through text message Sunday:
“I am not upset. All this was thought up to make a mockery of me. I knew it would happen. Their opera, ‘Prince Igor,’ was a failure. And they needed to distract attention with another scandal.”
“Prince Igor” opened on Sunday.
The January 17 attack was on Artistic Director Sergei Filin. A masked man burned his eyes with sulfuric acid. He had to go through several surgeries and it is suspected he will retrieve a portion of his eyesight and head back to the company.
Tsiskaridze was initially questioned after the incident but was never said to be a suspect in the attack. Pavel Dmitrichenko, another dancer, was taken into custody in connection with the assault.
Anatoly Iksanov, the general director of The Bolshoi Ballet, has stressed his belief that Tsiskaridze was innocent of the attack. However, he has also criticized Tsiskaridze’s open ridicule of the theater. The dancer was given two official reprimands from the company for his comments after the attack on Filin.
According to an interview Iksanov did in February, there were no legal grounds to fire Tsiskaridze so he hoped the dancer would step away from the company on his own.
“Our labor legislation is very humane,” Iksanov explained. “He has been on pension for more than a year. I cannot send him to retirement, because according to Russian legislation, it’s a lifetime contract. He can stay at the theater until he is 100.” Spokeswoman Novikova did not address Sunday what allows the company to now release Tsiskaridze.
Among the individuals that have come out to support Tsiskaridze is ballerina Anastasia Volochkva. She and the company parted ways after she was told her weight made her too heavy to lift. When commenting about Tsiskaridze’s issue on Twitter she said her situation was a bit more bearable since her mother was there for support.
“Kolya Tsiskaridze has had no parents since he was a child,” Volochkva wrote on the social media website. “He has no one to protect him. He has giving his whole life to the theater. And he has no one to hug him.”