NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
The Soviet government’s mistreatment of Valery and Galina Panov was cited today for the sudden cancellation of the 1974 American tour of the Kirov Ballet which was to have begun next July. Columbia Artists Management of New York, promoters of the tour, conceded that the Panov case was a factor but insisted that the cancellation was due mainly to the energy crisis which made it impossible to arrange charter flights to transport the 165-member Leningrad ballet company and their equipment between American cities. According to Columbia officials, the tour was “postponed.” The earliest re-scheduling date was put at some time in 1977.
The cancellation announcement came as protests mounted in circles concerned with the situation of Soviet Jews against the Kirov tour at a time when the troupe’s former principal performers. Valery and Galina Panov, were being subjected to harassment and hardship for having applied two years ago for visas to emigrate to Israel.
Last week, a group of prominent Washington, D.C. Jewish community members stated in a letter to officials of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts that if the Soviet government does not allow Valery and Galina Panov their right to emigrate, the Kirov Hallet should not be allowed to tour the U.S. The letter, addressed to Martin Feinstein, the Center’s executive director, said, “The personal restrictions placed on the Panovs hold significant and disturbing implications for artistic freedom and true cultural exchange with the Soviet Union.”
Bert Silver, chairman of the commission on international affairs of the American Jewish Congress in Washington, said he was in contact with Columbia Artists Management and with the New York City Center which planned to present the ballet at Lincoln Center. According to Silver, the Center’s executive committee wrote to Soviet Ambassador Anatoly F. Dobrynin that “The personal freedom of Mr. and Mrs. Valery Panov is essential to the successful appearances of the Kirov Ballet in this country…and the continuing beneficial results of U.S.-Soviet cultural exchanges.”
It was learned meanwhile that a U.S. tour of the Bolshoi Ballet is still scheduled to begin next Aug. 5 but it is being restricted to cities on the eastern seaboard, ostensibly because of the energy situation.