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    Culture

    Organizer: the performance of Bolshoi Theater artists in Seoul may be disrupted

    MOSCOW, April 13The performance of a ballet troupe in Seoul with the participation of Bolshoi Theater artists was in jeopardy due to the fear of the venue manager losing his position, said the general director of the organizing company Ballet & Model Choi Joon Suk.
    The “Super Concert of Ballet & Model” is scheduled to take place on April 16–18 at one of the main venues in Seoul – the Grand Theater of the Sejong Cultural Center. The ballet company includes leading artists from the Bolshoi Theatre, and they plan to present ten of the best scenes from their classical repertoire, including the ballets Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Spartacus and Don Quixote. The Korean COOP Orchestra will be conducted by Honored Artist of Russia, Deputy Chief Conductor of the Bolshoi Theater Anton Grishanin.

    According to Choi Joon Suk, the agreement to rent the hall for the “Gala Concert of the Bolshoi Ballet Troupe 2024 in Seoul,” as the performance was originally called, was concluded last year and at first not only did not raise any questions, but was also fully supported by the responsible employees cultural center, who expressed gratitude for organizing the performance of artists of this level.

    But on March 27 of this year, Choi Joon Suk received a call from the chairman of the Korean Ballet Association, Park Chae Heon, who said that the director of the Sejong Cultural Center, Ahn Ho San, called him and asked him to ensure that the head of Ballet & Model himself refused to hold this performance. He gave several reasons.
    “First: the South Korean Foreign Ministry and the government don’t like it. Second: the South Korean Embassy in Russia will not issue visas. Third: to hold a performance, you need to get the approval of the committee for assessing the rating of visual materials, and you won’t be able to get its approval either. Fourth: because the title performance was changed from the original “Gala Concert of the Bolshoi Ballet Troupe”, then the director of the Sejong Cultural Center Ahn Ho San will stall for time and will not approve,” said Choi Joon Suk.

    In response to a question about why the director of the Sejong Cultural Center did not call the organizer personally, the chairman of the Korean Ballet Association said that otherwise “a direct call would have been a threat.” Moreover, when the head of Ballet & Model tried to find out the true motives for such demands, Park Chae Hong replied that Ahn Ho San, apparently, was simply afraid for his career.

    “The director of the Sejong Cultural Center, Ahn Ho San, is ending his (contract) term in September, and holding a performance by the Bolshoi Ballet Company seems to be an obstacle to his renewal as director,” Choi Joon Suk said the words of your interlocutor.
    He stated that the chairman of the Korean Ballet Association also told him that if he were in his shoes as an entrepreneur, he would “look at it more broadly” and “think carefully” if he wanted to continue organizing shows.
    According to Choi Jun Suk, he found out through his channels at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea that the first three reasons for canceling the event are completely false. At the South Korean Embassy in Moscow, the head of Ballet & Model was also assured that there are no problems with issuing visas, and diplomats are ready to provide any necessary assistance.
    However, the fourth “reason” materialized the very next day, when the Sejong Cultural Center refused to host the event on the grounds of a name change. Although, according to Choi Joon Suk, such adjustments are a common practice and require only a simple internal approval procedure, which was confirmed to him by the responsible employee of the center a few weeks earlier.

    The CEO of the organizing company called this a clear violation of the contract and an attempt to delay time in order to prevent the performance from taking place, which he had actually already been threatened with. He noted that a month ago, on the day it became known that the Bolshoi Theater prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova’s performance in Seoul had been cancelled, he received a call from a journalist who said that he had spoken with “a high-ranking representative of the Sejong Cultural Center,” and he had allegedly already notified the Ballet & Model so that they do not hold performances by Bolshoi Theater artists.

    “The methods by which Sejong Cultural Center Director Ahn Ho San tried to put pressure on me for his own personal gain by spreading false statements and mentioning the government and government agencies involved in foreign policy is obviously a serious crime. And acting for selfish interests can cause great misunderstanding and lead to diplomatic problems between the two countries,” the organizer emphasized.
    According to him, from March 28, the Sejong Cultural Center began to collectively ignore calls from representatives of Ballet & Model, which also did not allow us to find workarounds for the current situation. As a result, after a long delay, on April 12, the center’s management decided to send the performance for re-approval in connection with the change of name; this would take at least a week, and, therefore, the tour planned for the next week could not be carried out on time.

    Choi Joon Suk noted that he would not have disclosed all the details of the negotiations if he had not been sure that the selfish interests of one particular person were preventing the Bolshoi Theater’s tours. In support of everything said, he also provided audio recordings and certified transcripts of the contents of the mentioned telephone conversations.
    Earlier, the Yonhap Agency, citing the Sejong Cultural Center, reported that the center's hall rental review committee had decided to refuse to make changes to the production, which means it must be carried out in accordance with the original lease agreement. According to the report, on March 28, 19 days before the start of the tour, the organizing company notified the center that it was changing the composition of the participants and the program under the agreement concluded in October last year.
    Changes included reducing the number of performers from 20 to eight, and the number of the company's lead dancers was cut from 12 to six. At the same time, the number of numbers in the program decreased from 12 to 10, and the total number of programs themselves – from six to four.

    The committee called the changes too significant, citing the fact that in this case no one can vouch for the quality of the performance, and before applying for changes, the organizer would need to conduct preliminary consultations with the Bolshoi Theater troupe.

    Choi Joon Suk, in turn, told Yonhap that after the cancellation of the performance in Seoul, Zakharova asked the Bolshoi Theater, on the contrary, to strengthen the production, as a result of which certain changes occurred in the program. At the same time, the reduction in the number of performers is associated with a decrease in the proportion of supporting dancers, while the quality of the main cast has improved, and in terms of artistry, the level of programs has even increased.
    Yonhap also reported that the submitted Ballet & Model April 4, a lawsuit against the Sejong Cultural Center regarding the fulfillment of obligations under the contract was rejected by the court today for “lack of grounds.”
    This spring, a number of performances by Russian ballet dancers were planned in South Korea. In addition to the performance of the Bolshoi Theater artists, from May 16 to 19, tours of the leading dancers of the Mariinsky Theater, including the main soloist Kim Kimin, as well as the Bolshoi ballet troupes, Paris Opera Ballet and Berlin Staatsballett, were planned in Seoul.

    From April 17 to 21 in Seoul The art center was also supposed to host the ballet performance “Modance” with the participation of prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater Svetlana Zakharova, but it was canceled by the organizers in mid-March “in order to ensure the safety of both spectators and artists.”
    The Russian Embassy in South Korea in this regard stated that an unscrupulous campaign of discredit was being waged against the upcoming concerts of Russian ballet troupes in Seoul, launched by diplomatic representatives of a number of third countries. The ballerina herself stated in an interview that her tour was canceled not by the organizers, but at the level of the South Korean Ministry of Culture.

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