Self-righteous geniuses are not uncommon in the art world. For example, Rudolf Nureyev criticized the corps de ballet, which he reported to as ballet director of the Paris Opera, after the premiere of the 3rd act of "La Bayadère", in the famous shadow scene the beautiful, ankle-length tutus repeatedly turned into a deep arabesque Penchée sinking ballerinas danced like "cows in clogs". When the Paris Ballet made a guest appearance with it a little later at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Nureyev not only landed so rudely on one of the dancers gracefully surrounding him after the sixth tour en l'air that she fell into the alley, but also grazed on the exit others accidentally hit their arm so hard that they bruised their backs.

By no means everyone who cultivates such rough dealings are geniuses.

It is known that former dancer and Stuttgart ballet director Reid Anderson had his ballet director John Cranko say: "Reid can't dance." You don't have to be a good dancer to become a good ballet director.

But there is one aspect that becomes critical when you are not a genius and at the same time self-righteous: in the work on the art.

Apparently that's what the process that ended up in the first hearing before the stage arbitration court is about.

The power of a disreputable gesture that isn't 

The conductor Mikhail Agrest, who has been the musical director of the Stuttgart Ballet for a little over a year with a three-year contract, complained about the extraordinary termination by the Stuttgart State Theater last year. The court finally offered to submit a settlement proposal to the parties. The hearing had previously made it clear that there was no breach of duty on the part of the conductor and that there were no grounds for termination. But what happened? As reported in the boardroom, on October 13, Reid Anderson conducted a stage orchestra rehearsal of John Cranko's ballet Onegin. According to information from the theater, Anderson was a guest at the house for the first time since his departure in 2018 and worked with conductor Agrest for the first time that day.Discussions ensued.

In Act I Anderson asked Agrest to conduct more slowly, in Act III he asked him to speed up the orchestra. The conductor tried to explain to him why he chose the tempi the way he chose them. Realizing that talking about it was undesirable, he was observed making a gesture of displeasure, in which one raises the hand, back of the hand outwards, and shakes it gently while pressing the thumb against the inside of the fingers, sort of Italian Heaving sigh: "Mamma mia!" As the lawyer for the state of Baden-Württemberg admitted at the hearing, this was "not a disreputable gesture".

The scene in the theater culminated in Reid Anderson's statement about the conductor: "You do what I want." That, the conductor's lawyer pointed out at the hearing, was the question.

Did Anderson have authority over Agrest?

Hardly, especially since the current ballet director, Tamas Detrich, was also rehearsing, but without intervening.

When art becomes a question of power

Now, as Agrest's lawyer went on to say, there was definitely a way to settle the matter afterwards: by exchanging artistic arguments. Instead, two days after the incident, on October 15, 2021, the extraordinary termination took place. On October 14, Agrest conducted another ballet performance, on the 15th he saw himself dismissed without notice – as Chairwoman Fink emphasized in the hearing: "Extraordinary dismissal is the sharpest sword." damaged reputation” of his client.

It looks very much as if there would be a settlement in which the plaintiff would then have to be paid compensation of a possible amount of 200,000 euros.

That's how much the Staatstheater Stuttgart, i.e. the state of Baden-Württemberg, would have to pay for a controversial change of tempo because Reid Anderson finds it unacceptable on a day when he comes to the house with a guest contract to conduct a rehearsal that the conductor would like to discuss the tempi with him at two points in the score.

Whereupon he says to the conductor: "You do what I want." Did he forget that he is no longer a ballet director, but a guest coach?

Paying royalties for self-righteousness 

The legal solution is one thing. The other are the questions that such an incident raises. Agrest had successfully conducted about 25 ballet performances since 2013, first as a guest and then since the beginning of the contract. The state of Baden-Württemberg has to blame itself for the depressing conditions in Stuttgart, where a man who sees artistic work as a question of power is brought back from retirement due to failed personnel decisions. Scenes like this couldn't happen if one fact weren't swept under the carpet time and time again. Cranko's inheritance, those works from twelve years as Stuttgart ballet director, belong to Reid Anderson's longtime partner and current husband, the former secretary Dieter Graefe.

Nowhere in the world can Cranko's oeuvre be performed without Graefe's consent and without him being able to decide on the cast, production, costumes and stage design.

So far, royalties have flowed, although Graefe finally set up a foundation recently, so far only to himself. Fine, one can now say that he is the heir.

However, only Stuttgart would be allowed to perform any of Cranko's ballets without asking Graefe or employing Anderson – if one wanted to.

Self-righteousness thrives when it accepts the environment of the self-righteous.

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