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U.s. Dancer May Get Bolshoi Bid

January 24, 1987|MARTIN BERNHEIMER | Times Music/Dance Critic

Fernando Bujones, the flamboyant American dancer who shared leading roles with Mikhail Baryshnikov at American Ballet Theater and then left the company in a dispute with his rival-boss, is being invited to dance with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.

Yuri Grigorovich, artistic director of the Bolshoi, mentioned the invitation, virtually unprecedented for an American in recent times, while in Los Angles on Thursday to prepare for his company's season at the Music Center in August.

"I would very much like to have Bujones with us," Grigorovich said through an interpreter.

"It would be very interesting. I think this man can do anything. I first saw him when he was a contestant in Varna in 1974 and since then in a few other places. He is brilliant, amazing."

Grigorovich explained that he has received permission from the Soviet ministry of culture to bring certain artists of international reputation to a broad-ranging festival in Moscow next month. He had shocked the arts world earlier in the week when he extended similar invitations to key Soviet defectors: Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova.

"I am very sad," Grigorovich said, "that things had worked out as they did. But new winds are blowing in my country. Our leaders are taking new positions.

"I do not have tea with Mr. Gorbachev every day, but these plans reflect his sympathy. Artists like Makarova, Baryshnikov and Bujones should be dancing on all the stages of the world. I want them to come.

"If they do not come, it will be their decision."

At press time, neither Makarova nor Baryshnikov had announced their intentions.

Grigorovich shrugged when asked if the invitations would extend beyond the international festival in February.

"Of course," he said, "these further matters would have to be discussed."

He added that there are various other American artists who would be welcome at the Bolshoi.

"Arthur Mitchell and his company (The Dance Theater of Harlem) interest me. Leonard Bernstein has a standing invitation to conduct."

Bujones, now 31, was born in Miami of Cuban parents and, while a child, studied at Alicia Alonso's school in Havana.

"I had heard a rumor that I might be asked to dance in Moscow," he said from his home in New York. "But so far there has been no official contact."

"It may be premature for me to comment now," he added, "but I certainly would be interested. I know and admire Grigorovich. We met in Varna and are friends. The prospect is exciting."

Although his schedule is heavily booked with engagements in South Korea, Milan, Belgium and Japan, Bujones said he does have some free time in February.

"All I can do now," he said, "is sit by the phone and wait."

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