Sergei Polunin’s appointment at the Bayerisches Staatsballett has recently been the topic of much discussion.
It is a complex matter – and in the long term simplifying it will be of no service to us. For days now we have been talking to one another; we discuss, we analyse and interpret – dialogue is ongoing in the house. These are important and relevant questions that now arise, and which also affect us in a totally new way with the speed and powerful presence of social media: Where is the boundary between public and private? How and why does an institution judge the opinion of an artist? At what point does an opinion become dangerous and what is actually an offence? What responsibility does an institution, an artist, a private person have? Who decides what is too much? Where are the boundaries?
These and similar questions present us with the task of not only making a decision for the short term, but rather of also finding a long-term way of dealing with such situations. This process requires time, because we are not running some kind of autocratic system in which one single person decides what is to be done. We will take and make use of this time.
The coverage of Sergei Polunin’s comments on Instagram is largely simplified. We see the problematic nature and at the same time the contradictions of his comments, but we do not want to prematurely stigmatise him. We distance ourselves unreservedly from all discriminatory content. As we have not, however, had the opportunity to speak with Sergei Polunin in situ and in person, we have decided for the time being to judge only what we can judge at this time: his qualities as an artist. And on the basis of this assessment, he will make a guest performance in Raymonda at our house on 19/20 January 2019. What will follow is as yet unknown. And that is alright.
Nikolaus Bachler, General Manager of Bayerische Staatsoper
Igor Zelensky, Director of Bayerisches Staatsballett