Return of the Bolshoi upstaged by ex-director's claims of plagiarism

THE BOLSHOI Ballet's triumphant return to Britain was marred yesterday by an unseemly squabble.

The company had hoped to leave behind troubled times and recreate the excitement that reached its peak in the last Fifties when desperate English fans offered their homes in exchange for tickets.

After a six-year absence, and with its opera in tow for the first time, the Bolshoi was hoping for a rapturous and trouble-free tour. But its former director Yuri Grigorovich chose the eve of the long-awaited London season to claim that three of the forthcoming productions were copies of his own work.

Yesterday, the company's new general director, Vladimir Vasiliev, was forced to admit that Grigorovich might be right.

The 72-year-old former impresario, famous for his iron-fisted rule of the renowned company, had known about the planned performances for seven months, yet chose to make his claim only days before the first ballet is due to open at the Coliseum in London. Having contacted the Russian Copyright Society, he appointed a London lawyer last Thursday. He is demanding about pounds 100,000 in royalties.

Vasiliev admitted during the press launch at the Coliseum yesterday that Grigorovich might be entitled to the money and the matter was now the subject of negotiations. But he insisted that the show would go on - before aiming a sideways dig at the man often referred to as his predecessor.

"I have never substituted [for] Mr Grigorovich because the person who substituted him was Mr [Alexei] Fadeyechev [the ballet's director]," he said. To gales of laughter from his company, he pointed out that he headed the entire ballet and opera company, a more senior post than Grigorovich had held.

Grigorovich, who has refused to bow out quietly since his departure four years ago, is claiming copyright to the opening production of the classics La Bayadere and Spartacus, as well as to the rarely performed Raymonda.

Yesterday, however, the 420 dancers, singers and musicians who flew to London on Sunday night were apparently unperturbed by the dispute. At the Urdang Academy around the corner from the Coliseum - where they will perform for four weeks - they were rehearsing La Bayadere.

Grigorovich's London lawyer insisted that the dancers had little to fear. "It is certainly not his intention to place an injunction on the performances. At this point it would be incredibly unfair to all the performers, who are perfectly innocently going about their work.

"It is just that [the Bolshoi] have not come to us for a licence. He just wants the appropriate royalties. He is not out to crucify anybody. We hope it will be sorted out amicably."

The dispute has proved embarrassing for Vasiliev, who took over in 1995 and has been keen to distance himself from the turbulent times that marked the end of the Soviet era. He said London audiences could hope to see some of the best ballet in the world. While promoting the company's modern repertoire, he said the classics would remain the pillar of its agenda.

"Our strongest part is classical. We are the strongest in the world. No one can do it the same way. We perform at the top level and that is what we are going to show you in London," he said confidently.

Emphasising the importance of the Bolshoi Opera's first visit to this country, he added: "There are many people who think the Bolshoi is just the ballet. There is no ballet without the orchestra, there is no orchestra without the opera."

This, he hoped, would be the first of a series of visits to England. "If the British audience like us then we will be back in 2001 at Covent Garden," he promised.

Yesterday, he said that his modern company was stronger than ever and denied reports of its demise. "It could die only with Russia," he said. "As long as Russia is alive, the Bolshoi is alive."

Life and Style
“What is it like being a girl?” was the question on the lips of one inquisitive Reddit user this week
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
transfers
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Midsummer swimwear season is well and truly upon us – but diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
News
peopleMario Balotelli poses with 'shotgun' in controversial Instagram pic
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Sport
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
The successful ITV drama Broadchurch starring David Tenant and Olivia Coleman came to an end tonight
tv
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BC2

£50000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice