Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gay Pix Scandal Forces
Resignation at the Bolshoi Ballet

(Dancer Gennady Yanin. Credit: Fifi Cardiff.)

It's a scandal with duplicity, political backstabbing, salacious intrigue and naughty pix of a gay nature that rocked a revered and sometimes feared Russian institution nearly two weeks ago, and we're not talking about the Kremlin. 

Gennady Yanin, a superstar in the dance world and deputy artistic director of the 234-year-old Bolshoi Ballet company, left his position because the pix showed him engaging in gay sexual relations. From the Guardian in London:

Yanin was forced out last week when graphic images of him in bed with other men were posted online and a link emailed to thousands of people in Russia and abroad. Homosexuality remains little tolerated in Russia. He has declined to comment on the row, saying only that he decided to leave his position because he was tired.

"It's very complicated, difficult work," he said. "And because of what happened, the way my colleagues reacted, pushed me to do what I long wanted to do and leave the position." ...

While that story reports on the negative attitudes toward homosexuals even in the ballet world, it also alleges acceptance of heterosexual sexual liaisons arranged for the ballerinas of the famous dance company by its directors: 

Anastasia Volochkova, the former Bolshoi ballerina who was fired in 2003 over her weight, describes a theatre transformed into a quasi-escort agency for wealthy donors. Several other sources backed up her claims.

"Parties are organised for oligarchs, for sponsors. And they invite ballerinas from the Bolshoi," Volochkova said. "These girls aren't invited privately, but through the theatre's administration.

"The girls are told: if you go to the party, you will have a future. If not, you won't go on the next tour. What can they do? I saw it all with my own eyes. It was openly said, it wasn't even hidden." ...

Bolshoi leaders strenuously denied the escorting claims, just as I'm sure they would reject allegations of gay men in the company. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to learn the sexual intrigue and power-grabs at the Bolshoi equal the levels of those elements at the Kremlin.

Regarding the explicit photos at the heart of this scandal, said to number in the hundreds, shared via email and on a web site no longer online, none of the images turn up through Google's image search engine. Did no one cache the images?

1 comment:

Civic Center said...

Galina Vishnevskaya, the great (still living) diva of the Bolshoi Opera during the 1950s-1960s, wrote an autobiography soon after she defected to the United States with her husband, the cellist Mstislav Rostrophovich in the 1970s. It's called "Galina," and it's one of the wildest, get-even with the corrupt artistic/political bureaucracy tomes ever written. Cannot recommend it highly enough, and her versions of these same kinds of stories in the Soviet Russia are really wild.

Though a lot of artistic careers all over the world involve variations on casting couches, Russia seems to have long ago refined it into a cultural touchstone.