The specter of an “iron curtain” on the stage of cultural relations between the West and Russia

 Even at the height of the Cold War, Russian artists regularly performed on Western theaters... But with the war in Ukraine, Europe closed its doors to brilliant Russian names and bands in various artistic fields, This raises fears among some of a cultural “iron curtain.”
In less than a week, concerts and activities of several groups and artists from Russia were canceled on the theaters and halls of Western countries, thus raising the specter of cultural isolation.
"Cultural exchanges between Russian, American and European artists continued even at the height of the Cold War," Peter Gelb, director of the Metropolitan House in New York, told AFP. "Of course, there were tensions, but it was possible," he said.
Gulp, who visited Moscow days before the invasion of Ukraine to research a joint production with the Bolshoi Theater, noted that “what is happening today is different, it goes beyond the Cold War. It is a real war."
Peter Gelb, 69, knows exactly what he's talking about. In the eighties of the twentieth century, this American, who was at the time the manager of the famous pianist Vladimir Horowitz, organized the strong return of this musician to his home country, as well as filming the concert of cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who also returned during the era of restructuring (perestroika).
The first tours of Soviet artists in Western countries date back to the fifties, most notably the ballet troupes, as this type of dance is considered one of the most important arts in which the Russians excel, and was par excellence one of the faces of the “soft power” of the Soviet Union.
These concerts - during which the artists were under the supervision of the Soviet authorities - constituted prominent historical stations, for example, the visit of the Bolshoi Ballet Troupe to London in 1956 with Galina Ulanova, and the first visit of the Kirov troupe (later called Mariinsky) to Paris in 1961, which witnessed The split of the famous dancer Rudolf Nureyev.
The Americans also did not fail to give concerts in the Soviet Union, as the “American Ballet Theater” gave its first performance in Moscow in 1960, followed two years later by the “New York City Ballet”, in the midst of the Cuban missile crisis that did not resolve the resulting tensions without completing The band is on tour.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the exchange intensified, and Russian dancers became stars in Western groups, including Svetlana Zakharova, who was at the same time the main dancer in the Bolshoi troupe and those of the La Scala theater in Milan, Italy.
In this context, what was unimaginable before was achieved, as the American David Hallberg was chosen as the first star among the Bolshoi dancers.
However, “it is absolutely not possible in the current situation and the brutality it is witnessing against civilians, exchanges like the ones that took place during the Cold War,” said Peter Gelb. In this sense, the "Metropolitan" house ended its cooperation with the Bolshoi Theatre.

The New York Foundation will also boycott all pro-Putin artists, a decision taken by the Paris Opera and others.
In this context, the Bolshoi Theater's visit to London, which was scheduled for this summer, has been cancelled.
The Russian choreographer Alexei Ratmansky, who was the former director of the Bolshoi troupe and then moved abroad, announced his withdrawal from two Russian works, one for her and the other for the Mariinsky troupe. The Frenchman, Laurent Eller, submitted his resignation from the management of the ballet troupe at the Stanislavsky Theater in Moscow after holding this position for five years.
The artistic repercussions caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine affected two stars considered close to the Kremlin, the conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra in Germany, Valery Gergiev, and the soprano Anna Netrebko. Gergiev became persona non grata in a number of theaters, while his manager announced the cessation of cooperation with him. As for the “queen” of classical singing, she gave up reviving some of her concerts, most notably in the “Metropolitan” house, or the halls themselves canceled her appearances.
"Which geographic area will remain available in the coming months for Russian artists, given that they are not invited to the American and European continents?" former director general of the Paris Philharmonic Orchestra Laurent Bayle told AFP. China has not yet given any indications that it will host them (because of Covid), and therefore they will remain their country.”
He noted that the boycott of these artists by Western countries would affect "three quarters" of their work.
Pyle predicted that "no one would venture to invite artists from Russia" unless they declared themselves to be distancing themselves from the Kremlin, while this war "resulted in the occupation of a country."
Although not all artists will be treated in the same way (some of them, such as Britain-based conductor Vasily Petrenko, have announced the suspension of their activities in Russia), the situation will be more complicated for institutions supported by the Moscow authorities.
“The Bolshoi, Mariinsky and the authorities cannot be distinguished, as they are government-funded, and the Bolshoi in the eyes of the people of the world means the Russian state,” said Pyle. It's okay.”

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