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Russian ballerina performance canceled in Seoul

A series of shows featuring the Bolshoi Theatre’s principal dancer has been suspended amid protests from Kiev

South Korea has canceled a series of performances by Svetlana Zakharova, a renowned ballerina from Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre, after Ukraine expressed anger over the planned events.  

A set of shows featuring Zakharova had been scheduled to take place at the Seoul Arts Center in April.    

The performance, titled ‘Modanse’, which portrays the life of Coco Chanel, was staged in collaboration with the French fashion house Chanel and premiered at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow in 2019.  

The Seoul Arts Center, affiliated with South Korea’s Ministry of Culture, said the performances had been canceled “in light of ensuring the safety of both the audience and the artists.”  

“We sincerely apologize to all the audience members who were anticipating this performance and kindly request your understanding,” the center said in a notice.   

The cancelation comes after Ukraine’s embassy in South Korea last week claimed that allowing Zakharova to perform would amount to the “legitimization of Russian unjustified aggression and belittling the suffering of the Ukrainian people.”  

Kiev’s embassy added that despite “respect to the pluralism of opinion,” Ukraine calls on its “international partners to suspend cultural cooperation with the criminal Russian regime and its cultural representatives.”  

Zakharova was born in the Ukrainian city of Lutsk and went to ballet school in Kiev, but is a Russian citizen and a member of the Bolshoi troupe. She also served as an MP for the pro-government United Russia party between 2007 and 2011. 

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Russian ballerina Svetlana Zakharova portrays Coco Chanel during a performance in Moscow, 2019.
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An official at the Ukrainian embassy told the Korea Times last week that Kiev also opposes the performance because the Bolshoi Theatre is “headed by a close friend” of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Famed conductor Valery Gergiev, who leads both the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, is among multiple Russian artists who have been blacklisted in Ukraine for their political views and support for the Russian government.  

InArts Production, the organizer of Modanse in South Korea, confirmed that the show had been canceled at the request of the Seoul Arts Center, noting that the event had been planned long before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.   

The Russian embassy in Seoul earlier condemned attempts by Ukrainian diplomats to disrupt the performance of Bolshoi Theatre’s principal dancer, calling them “unexpectedly tactless.”  

Meanwhile, the Bolshoi Ballet Gala Concert, another show featuring dancers from the iconic Russian theatre is scheduled to take place in Seoul from April 16 to 18.  Kiev has also reportedly opposed the event.

March 15, 2024 at 02:21PM

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