The Slovenia Times

Clug powerless as Bolshoi picks his ballet to drop Kremlin-critical artist


Moscow's Bolshoi Theatre has decided to cancel a ballet production by the Kremlin-critical director Kirill Serebrennikov and replace it with a ballet by Slovenian-based choreographer Edward Clug. Clug says he is powerless because the Bolshoi holds exclusive rights to his ballet until 2026.

The Bolshoi cancelled a May revival of Kirill Serebrennikov's 2015 ballet production A Hero of Our Time and replaced it with Clug's adaptation of The Master and Margarita, which made a major hit after opening in Moscow in 2021.

Serebrennikov, who was found guilty in 2020 of embezzling funds at Moscow's Gogol Centre theatre in what his supporters say was revenge for his criticism of Vladimir Putin's regime, left Russia in March 2022. He has spoken out publicly against the war in Ukraine.

Clug, a Romanian-born choreographer who serves as artistic director for ballet at the SNG Maribor theatre, told the STA on 22 March that he had no legal means at his disposal for protest, as the Bolshoi could feature his ballet wherever, whenever and as many times as it wanted until December 2026.

Clug feels that the choice of The Master and Margarita is not a direct response to Serebrennikov, but simply the result of a decision to fill the slot with something that is still recent as far as the theatre's repertoire is concerned.

He feels powerless, but on the other hand, letters that he is receiving from Russia reveal that in the given circumstances the show is providing a bit of hope and inspiration to the dancers as well as the audience.

Clug is puzzled that The Master and Margarita should be performed in Russia at this time. It is based on Mikhail Bulgakov's novel, which he says is about the author's resistance against Stalin, the resistance of the philosopher against tyranny, of Jesus against Pilate, and thus perhaps presently more critical of the system than A Hero of Our Time, based on the 1839 classic by Mikhail Lermontov.


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