The Kennedy Center and the Metropolitan Opera have canceled the U.S. tour of the Paris Opera Ballet following a revolt by some of the Paris dancers over Rudolf Nureyev's appearance with the troupe.
Many of the dancers had threatened to refuse to come to the United States because of the Met's insistence that Nureyev -- who is not a member of the company -- play a major role in the tour.
In a cable sent yesterday to the administrator of the Paris Opera, Kennedy Center Chairman Roger L. Stevens and Anthony Bliss, executive director of the Metropolitan Opera, said they were canceling the tour because of "a dispute between the management of the (Paris) Opera and the dancers" that would "cause financial and political risk" to the sponsors.
"Unfortunately, the Metropolitan and the Kennedy Center are the victims of this dispute which apparently concerns demands from the etoiles (principal dancers) regarding the use by the Opera of guest artists, as well as other moe involved matters," Bliss said in a statement last night.
The company was to have performed at the Met April 21-May 3 and at the Kennedy Center May 6-18.
One principal dancer with the French company stated that he and his fellow dancers did not wish to come to the United States as "window-dressing for the old over-the-hill Nureyev. We have our own great dancers who deserve a chance to be seen."
Jane Hermann, the Met's presentations director, said she would not sponsor the tour without Nureyev available to add box-office luster. Hermann last year said she has taken a personal interest in Nureyev's career and hopes to encourage him to expand his artistry.
The anticipated visit later this year by the Berlin Opera Ballet to the Met has also been tied to that company's willingness to engage Nureyev as a guest star.
For the Kennedy Center, the Paris Opera Ballot cancellation is the second major dropout for the '79-80 ballet season at the Opera House: American Ballet Theater was forced to cancel a month-long engagement last December due to a contractual dispute with its dancers, since resolved. The Pennsylvania Ballet and the Feld Ballet were brought in for a week each to help fill the gap.
Bliss said last night that both the Met and the Kennedy Center were investigating alternate bookings for the Paris Opera Ballet's time slot.
The two sponsors of the tour have been locked in a series of vehement and confusing negotiations with French officials the week, and the Met's deadline for a decision on the ballet company's tour expired yesterday.
The Paris company was to make its first U.S. visit in 32 years and perform in Washington, New York and Chicago.
Hermann expressed confusion over the negotiations and said, "They can sit and argue about what color hair ribbons they're going to wear, but are couldn't wait any longer." She was strongly critical of French cultural authorities.
Violette Verdi the company's director who will move to the Boston Ballet later this year, was a strong supporter of the tour, which some French officials wanted postponed until a new regime is installed at the Paris Opera.