Sergei Polunin is coming to town. The 9th Avenue drug dealers are smiling. Yes indeed, the folks at YAGP wasted no time in seizing the opportunity to take advantage of the very public and personal meltdown of the former Royal Ballet principal these past two weeks to announce that they have secured him as a main star for their upcoming shows. After Polunin walked out on the RB, Britain revoked his permit to work in the country. His future teeters precariously on the line like a high flying Wallenda's, so to speak.
Freshly installed in the Koch Theater lobby at Lincoln Center are advertising cards which announce that Polunin and Tamara Rojo will lead the YAGP program "Stars of Today Meet the Stars of Tomorrow" on April 27th. That's only a couple of weeks before the start of ABT's Met Season - perfect timing to insert yet another guest artist who comes with his own special following and no doubt will draw his own special kind of new audience around the back doors at Lincoln Center. Just what we need. And Polunin is, after all, exactly the kind of behavioral role model that the YAGP should be presenting to its young contestants, right?
The YAGP website identifies Ivan Vasiliev as an actual member of both American Ballet Theatre and the Mikhailovsky. He will be performing at YAGP's April 28th Legends In Dance performance. Funny how ABT hasn't gotten around to telling us that they have permanently imported yet another inferior Eastern European dancer instead of promoting a deserving artist from within the ranks.
So, how many Eastern European guest artists does it take to replace an ABT principal lightbulb? How about - one to hold the bulb and six to screw ABT's soloists out of career-building opportunities.
What does the rest of the ballet world think about Kevin McKenzie dangling David Koch's dirty money in front of foreign dancers and inciting them to walk out on employment agreements so that they can come dance for him whenever they want? Osipova, Vasiliev, Polunin – and probably the lure of the American dollar even played a pivotal role in the sudden exits of Matvienko and Obraztsova from the Mariinsky. Perhaps those two forgot about the 800 pound gorilla in the room who really rules things at the ballet, i.e., Maestro Gergiev, who once put his big foot down on Vishneva when it appeared that the Mariinsky might not be enough of a priority for her.
The professional ethics in the ballet world are on a slippery slope. Dangling money and opportunities in front of artists who you know cannot accept them without jeopardizing their employment or causing undue difficulty for their employers is reckless and unethical. Looking the other way when those artists walk out on employment agreements and jeopardize the performances of their former companies because they're frustrated about not being able to accept what you are dangling is irresponsible.