The Bolshoi, Under the Exacting Eye of Makhar Vaziev

Mr. Vaziev, the former ballet director at two exacting companies, the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg and La Scala in Milan, was appointed at the Bolshoi in March 2016 at a particularly fraught moment in the company’s long, tangled history.

Sergei Y. Filin, his predecessor, was partially blinded in an acid attack that a rising young male star, Pavel V. Dmitrichenko, was jailed for organizing. The scandal revealed the polarized, Balkanized world in the wings of the Bolshoi, where the corps de ballet felt they were treated like cattle and accused the management of exploiting their positions for personal profit.

The Bolshoi is also trying to readjust the rigidly classical repertory that defined its Soviet period, but it has stumbled in its most high-profile attempt thus far. Three days before an opening scheduled for last Tuesday, Vladimir G. Urin, the company’s new general director, who was appointed after the acid attack, announced, with Mr. Vaziev standing beside him, that the premiere of “Nureyev,” a groundbreaking biographical piece, would be postponed for at least a year.

Photo

The Bolshoi dancers Semyon Chudin and Olga Smirnova rehearsing George Balanchine’s “Diamonds” last week in Moscow. “Diamonds” is part of Balanchine’s “Jewels,” which the Bolshoi — along with the Paris Opera Ballet and New York City Ballet — will perform at the Lincoln Center Festival, beginning on Thursday.

Credit
James Hill for The New York Times

The Bolshoi has basically always been viewed as the Kremlin’s stage, and the state still underwrites 70 percent of its budget. After the government first brought in Mr. Urin, he telephoned Mr. Vaziev to offer him the job of ballet director. Mr. Vaziev said his first reaction was to reject the post, which he had done several times before. But Mr. Urin persisted.

Mr. Vaziev said that what really attracted him to the Bolshoi was its scale, of both its productions and its ambitions. It was not just the 220 dancers and nearly 30 instructors, he said, but also that the Bolshoi fosters its own talent in virtually all aspects of ballet — dancers, musicians, choreographers, costume designers, etc.

“This is a huge empire,” he said. “I did not have that at La Scala.”

Mr. Vaziev, 56, his hair graying, still carries himself with the erect posture of the star dancer he…

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