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Kirov Ballet Drops Fall Tour of U.S. After Venues Cancel


The Kirov Ballet has canceled its United States fall tour, which was to have included an Oct. 3-8 engagement at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa.

The Russian troupe had booked a number of tour stops, but several venues dropped out, making the tour financially unfeasible, arts center officials said Tuesday. The Kirov's New York-based booking agent did not return repeated calls.

The performing arts center considered an exclusive presentation of the Kirov, but without sharing costs with other presenters, such a venture would have been too expensive, said President Tom Tomlinson.

Kirov Artistic Director Oleg Vinogradov on Tuesday blamed the cancellation on American presenters and denied well-publicized rumors that the company is suffering from serious financial woes and that his position is imperiled.

"We were ready and wanted to go to America," Vinogradov said in a phone interview from Paris, where he is vacationing. "The only financial problems were with American impresarios" who, he surmised, had "maybe no money" to sponsor the troupe.

"Of course we needed the money" from a U.S. tour, he said, and financially the troupe has its "normal problems. [Insolvency] is not a question for us. This is not a problem company." He added that the troupe's New York engagement in June, which received lackluster reviews, was a box-office "success" and that his position is secure.

"I am the artistic director of the Kirov Ballet and I have no problem and no change," he said.

James A. Doolittle, who presented the Kirov three years ago in Los Angeles, said he tried to negotiate an L.A. stop on the troupe's fall tour. No commitment was ever made, however, because of programming disagreements and because too few other presenters on the tour made underwriting costs too high.

"We didn't feel we should extend ourselves that far," Doolittle said.

During the Kirov's New York engagement in June, the New York Times and New York Newsday reported that rumors about the troupe's finances and administration were circulating throughout the dance community.

While Vinogradov vehemently denies such rumors, he has made no secret of difficulties brought about by the end of communism.

Kirov corps dancers earn about $70 a month, with principals earning about $150, he has said. On tour, however, even the corps earn per day what they'd earn in a month.

Several struggling American ballet companies have also recently cut back on costly tours. The Joffrey Ballet canceled an April tour to Orange County and three other cities. American Ballet Theatre canceled a January appearance in San Diego.

Ticket-holders will be given full refunds, but the performing arts center is still seeking to fill the troupe's canceled dates. "We're talking to every artist we can think of," Tomlinson said.

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