Pro-Putin dancer Zakharova’s Seoul show canceled following political backlash

The Seoul show of 'Modanse,' a ballet piece starring Russian dancer Svetlana Zakharova, was canceled amid controversy over her support of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Courtesy of InArts Production

A scheduled ballet performance in Korea featuring Svetlana Zakharova, the Ukrainian-born Russian principal dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet known for her support of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been canceled amid controversy .Questions were raised regarding the appropriateness of allowing shows by individuals supportive of Putin, particularly amid the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kyiv. Originally scheduled for April 17 to 21 at the Seoul Arts Center, the performance, titled “Modanse,” intended to showcase Zakharova portraying the life of Coco Chanel. The center, affiliated with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, announced the cancellation on Friday. “We regret to inform you that the Korea leg of ‘Modanse’ has been canceled in light of ensuring the safety of both the audience and the artists. We sincerely apologize to all the audience members who were anticipating this performance and kindly request your understanding,” stated the center in its cancellation notice .A webpage featuring “Modanse” was removed from the Seoul Arts Center’s website following the notice.

Since early this year, Zakharova’s stance has sparked controversy, and the Embassy of Ukraine in Korea expressed condemnation on March 4, citing Zakharova and current Bolshoi Theatre director Valery Gergiev for having “actively and vocally condoned the criminal actions of the Russian regime in Ukraine. “The embassy said Russia is leveraging cultural events to justify war and genocide as a form of cultural weaponization and called for international partners to suspend cultural cooperation with the Russian regime and its representatives, noting previous cancellations and boycotts of Bolshoi performances in various countries. Upon the cancellation, the Russian Embassy in Korea expressed deep regret, Friday, highlighting that the project was organized on commercial terms by a private Korean company.

The embassy also drew attention to what it described as an “unscrupulous campaign” by a number of diplomatic representatives from other countries stationed in Korea to discredit the planned performances of the Russian national with unacceptable demands to stop cultural exchanges with Russia.
It added that cooperation in the fields of culture and art should not become “hostage to political games .”Amid the diplomatic feud, the organizer of “Modanse” in Seoul, InArts Production, said it agreed with the center to cancel the show.” We’ve been planning and preparing for this performance long before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite careful consideration of various factors, we’ve made the recent decision to cancel the event at the request of the Seoul Arts Center, prioritizing the safety and well-being of our artists and the audience,” In Arts wrote in its notice. Meanwhile, the “Bolshoi Ballet Gala Concert,” another show featuring dancers from the Russian state ballet company, is planned at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts from April 16 to 18.The Sejong Center, overseen by the Seoul Metropolitan Government, said the decision to continue or cancel the performance is up to the organizer, Ballet & Model, a private 스포츠토토존 company.

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