MOSCOW (Reuters) - A top U.S. ballet dancer will join Russia’s centuries-old Bolshoi on Thursday, reversing a Soviet-era trend which saw Russian artists flee to the West for better opportunities.
American Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer, 29-year-old David Hallberg, will continue working for the New York-based company while also performing in the Bolshoi’s new season.
“I am noticing that talent is returning (to Russia),” the Bolshoi’s general director Anatoly Iksanov told Reuters.
“Considering the Bolshoi Ballet is one of the world’s top troupes, I am very happy to say that David Hallberg, the star of the American Ballet Theater, joins on September 22,” he said.
During the Soviet era some of Russia’s best dancers left for Europe and the United States, starting with the defection of Rudolf Nureyev fifty years ago. Mikhail Baryshnikov followed, serving as the artistic director of the American Ballet Theater.
The Bolshoi’s reputation abroad has been steadily on the rise since the Soviet Union collapsed two decades ago. This, coupled with financial incentives, are behind the West’s new interest in working in Russia, Iksanov said.
“Local salaries have come close to global standards, and this has created a significant change,” he said, adding that Russians working abroad have been trickling home since 2003.
Hallberg’s appointment comes a year after St Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theater hired the country’s first foreigner to head a Russian ballet troupe, Spain’s Nacho Duato.
Reporting By Nastassia Astrasheuskaya, editing by Paul Casciato