People: Bolshoi saves its artistry with help of old enemy

IT'S Swan Lake gone horribly wrong, the delicate swan in danger of turning into an ugly duckling. The Bolshoi Ballet was held up by the Soviet Union as a symbol of the purity of art, untrammelled by Western decadence. But Sophia Golovkina, 77, one of the Bolshoi's brightest stars during the Communism's heyday, has now turned to capitalism to ensure the training ground for the Bolshoi survives.

She enlisted a former US president, Gerald Ford, to help her set up one of two overseas branches of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Mr Ford has helped establish a school in Vail, Colorado. The second is in Tokyo.

WHEN it comes to cosying up to the Old Enemy, Mr Ford does not draw any distinctions. The Republican ex-president is even at home with Democrats, in this case the 'new enemy', Bill Clinton. Mr Clinton is learning the art of presidential relaxation from Mr Ford. During a weekend in the Rocky Mountains, Mr Ford, 80, has treated the President to golf with Jack Nicklaus, an outdoor performance by the local branch of the Bolshoi and a dinner-dance at which Mr Clinton played the saxophone.

THE American John Demjanjuk, acquitted in Israel of charges of being the Nazi death-camp killer 'Ivan the Terrible', has high hopes of being freed this week. Congressman James Traficant, a Democrat from Mr Demjanjuk's home state of Ohio, says he plans to escort Mr Demjanjuk back to the US. Mr Traficant is confident Israeli judges will not lay new charges and that Mr Demjanjuk will be allowed to return to the US to contest his deportation.

A DISPUTE between the Australian and US governments over access to lucrative Australia-Japan air routes is pitting Australia's Prime Minister, Paul Keating, against a formidable adversary - his sister, Anne. Ms Keating is Australian head of United Airlines, the US carrier that has accused Canberra of acting in concert with Japan to increase the operations of Japanese and Australian carriers between the two countries. Ms Keating said the dispute caused her no embarrassment: 'He (Paul) has to do what he has to do and I have to do what I have to do.'

ALSO from Australia comes that creature rarer than the bald ibis: the politician frightened of over-exposure.

Ian Gilfillan, leader of the minority Democrat party in the South Australian state parliament, has called for cameras to be repositioned in the state assembly because he is tired of seeing his bald head on television. Mr Gilfillan said the positioning of cameras caused him anxiety because when he turned on the television news at night it was his bald spot - rather than his face - that was on display for all the viewers. His plea for the cameras to be moved will be discussed in parliament later this week.

(Photograph omitted)