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Little Money but Big Ideas: Local Kirov Still Aims High

TIMES DANCE CRITIC

Although a silent auction and fund-raiser last week generated only about $1,500 in donations, the troika overseeing the creation of a California Kirov Ballet based in Los Angeles have upped the estimated budget for the company’s first season (planned to begin this September) and are negotiating for a home in a historic downtown movie palace.

“We didn’t have time to organize the [fund-raising] event properly and received plenty of pledges of involvement with the company, but no dollar amounts mentioned as yet,” said Nadezhda Koscuik, who had hoped to net $250,000--enough to begin reshaping her Ballet Ecarte school into the California Kirov Academy and to import 10 Kirov dancers in August as the seed troupe for a new Russian-style resident company.

However, Golden Koscuik, her husband and partner, said that “funds are forthcoming,” some from bids being considered on the Mercedes-Benz E-320 and Steinway grand piano offered at the auction.

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Those bids could net $25,000 to $30,000, he said. He also pointed out that he and his wife had raised a start-up fund of $25,000 over the past year and that the $1,500 resulting from the fund-raiser came from people joining their new support group, the West Coast Classical Ballet Society.

The Koscuiks had offered the position of “permanent guest artistic director” of their company to Oleg Vinogradov, artistic director of the Kirov Ballet in St. Petersburg, arguably the most revered classical ensemble in the Western world. And Vinogradov said, through a translator, that he wasn’t discouraged by the fiscal shortfall.

Instead, “I was very surprised by the interest people at the event showed in having a new ballet company,” he said, explaining that “I am in the process of analyzing the entire [funding] situation but it seems to me it will be possible to make all of this work.”

From the beginning of this decade, Vinogradov has been affiliated with ballet schools and companies in Washington, D.C., and Seoul that receive support from the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, but he said he had not yet discussed funding the California Kirov Ballet from these sources.

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Instead, he emphasized the need for local community involvement. He estimated that the new company will need about $300,000 (up $50,000 from previous announcements) for its initial season, which includes participation in an L.A. Opera gala at the Music Center on Sept. 3.

Vinogradov also said he is negotiating to house the California Kirov Ballet in the 2,000-seat, Louis XIV-style Los Angeles Theatre downtown, and negotiations were confirmed Friday by Nicholas Latimer, general manager of that venue. Latimer said Vinogradov had discussed staging some as yet undefined ballet “presentation” there in September, along with suggesting what Latimer called “physical adaptations of the stage and auditorium.” He expects to have another meeting with Vinogradov on these matters within a month, he said.

Although his contract with the Koscuiks is still unsigned, Vinogradov believes all issues can be resolved within the next two weeks, he said. But he understands that working in the ballet world is not entirely free of risk.

“There is a proverb that translates perfectly from Russian into English,” he said. “ ‘Man proposes, God disposes.’ I realize that not everything depends on me alone and that mistakes will be made. If it turns out to be impossible to organize the company in the time period envisaged, I am not going to beat my head against the wall.”


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