Mariinsky Dancers Barred From Youth Ballet Gala in New York

Two dancers from the Mariinsky Theater in Russia were barred from performing at a youth ballet gala in New York this week after their participation drew criticism from pro-Ukrainian officials and activists.

The dancers had been set to take part in two performances, at the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center, that celebrate the 25th anniversary of Youth America Grand Prix, a prestigious ballet competition and scholarship program based in New York.

But Youth America Grand Prix’s leaders removed the dancers from the program after critics said the organization was lending support to the Russian government by hosting the artists. The Mariinsky is a state-run theater in St. Petersburg led by the conductor Valery Gergiev, a close ally of President Vladimir V. Putin.

Youth America Grand Prix said in a statement that the decision “gives us great pain.” It said that in the hours before the first performance on Thursday, it had learned — along with Lincoln Center and others in the ballet world — of possible protests. After consulting with New York City Ballet, which operates the Koch Theater, it said that “it was agreed to cancel the performances of the scheduled Mariinsky Ballet dancers.”

“Art should unite us, not divide us,” Larissa Saveliev, the founder of Youth America Grand Prix, said in a statement. “In a difficult period, ballet should be healing. This is terribly sad.”

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, Russian artists and institutions have come under intense scrutiny on the global stage. The Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Mariinsky have faced cancellations abroad and have lost prestigious partnerships. Some stars, including Gergiev, who also leads the Bolshoi, and the soprano Anna Netrebko, have been shunned in the West because of their ties to Mr. Putin.

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