Nigel Redden, photographed by Leigh Webber. Courtesy Spoleto USA
General director of Spoleto Festival USA since 1995 and, for two decades (1998-2017), the director of the Lincoln Center Festival, Nigel Redden has an internationalist's point of view on the arts—expansive, curious, informed by the cultural wealth that the world has to offer.
He is the son of an American diplomat and grew up moving from place to place—Cyprus, Israel, Canada, Italy—until eventually setting of for Yale to study Art History. After visiting the Spoleto festival in Italy as a young man, and working there while he was still an undergraduate, he very quickly realized what he wanted to: direct festivals. And that's what he has done for most of the last quarter century.
Kanze Noh Theatre performed at Lincoln Center Festival in 2016. Photo courtesy Lincoln Center
It came as a big surprise last fall to learn that Lincoln Center Festival would cease to exist, effectively immediately. The announcement came on the heels of a summer featuring one of the festival's biggest triumphs: four days of performances in which Paris Opéra Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet and New York City Ballet danced Balanchine's Jewels side by side. What other New York institution could pull off such a thing?
A torrent of energy, he took command of the stage the second he entered. He exuded an over-the-top virility that was perfect for the role of Petruchio in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew. With outsized swagger, swiping and swatting Katharina, he matched her obstreperousness with his own. With his suspenders half down and his shirt half hanging out, he struck a charismatic (if violent) figure.
New York City is getting an embarrassment of riches this week—riches of the Emerald, Diamonds and Rubies variety. The Bolshoi Ballet, Paris Opéra Ballet and New York City Ballet will be sharing the stage at Lincoln Center to present George Balanchine's Jewelsin celebration of the iconic ballet's 50th anniversary.
One of the many stars we're excited to see is Olga Smirnova, our June 2014 cover girl, who will be performing the lead in "Diamonds" as well as the role of Bianca in Jean-Christophe Maillot's Taming of the Shrew next week.
The Bolshoi's Ekaterina Krysanova and Vladislav Lantratov in Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew. Photo by Jack Devant, Courtesy Lincoln Center.
Makhar Vaziev is no stranger to running world-class ballet companies. Yet after 13 years at the Mariinsky Ballet and seven leading La Scala Ballet, Vaziev's return to Russia as head of the Bolshoi in 2016 came as a surprise to many. Not only is the Bolshoi the rival to his former St. Petersburg employer, but his arrival also followed the scandalous acid attack on his predecessor, Sergei Filin. Now comfortably ensconced in his new Moscow post, Vaziev is intent on bringing the Bolshoi up to the standards he expects wherever he reigns. American audiences will have their first look at the company under his leadership this month at Lincoln Center, first in "Diamonds" and "Rubies" as part of the 50th-anniversary celebration of Balanchine's Jewels (July 20–23), then in Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew (July 26–30).
How did the Bolshoi's participation in the Lincoln Center Jewels project come to pass?
I was informed about this project while I was still at La Scala. The idea was agreed upon before I moved to Moscow, and plans were already under way.
What dancers should we watch for?
Alyona Kovalyova, Margarita Shrainer, Anastasia Denisova, Xenia Zhiganshina, Elvina Ibraimova—these are the next generation of stars. We have a short artistic life and have to act quickly; if you wait one year, a certain dancer's chance may be lost. It's important to promote young dancers while there are great ballerinas in the theater, like Svetlana Zakharova, Ekaterina Krysanova and Olga Smirnova, so the younger generation has an example to look up to.
The Bolshoi's Olga Smirnova and Semyon Chudin in Balanchine's "Diamonds." Photo by Elena Fetisova/Bolshoi Theatre, Courtesy Bolshoi.