A senior crew member of the Moscow Ballet tells City Paper in an e-mail that professional interactions in Charleston were the worst he’s ever experienced, characterizing the people involved as rude, condescending, and arrogant.
The problem? Not the audience. Nor the venue operators.
The culprits were the “adult chaperones” of the children’s ballet troupe, a corps of dozens of dancers that performed in the ballet company’s Great Russian Nutcracker at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on Dec. 26.
“The adults were very rude, condescending, and mocking when asked not to take photographs, which are in violation of copyright law,” says Paul Magro, stage manager of the Moscow Ballet. “They sprawled all over the floor in very busy working areas, creating a hazard and impeding crew and dancers.”
More infuriating than that, Magro adds, was an attitude of entitlement among the adults — “the general air of arrogance and ‘we own this joint’ attitude was very unacceptable as they were guests to our performance!” He added: “I have toured all of Canada and the east coast with the Moscow Ballet, and Charleston will be remembered as the worst experience.”
Magro did not identify the “adult chaperones” by name, but Doug Smoak, director of the Charleston Dancer Center, was in charge of organizing the local auditions for the children’s troupe. Lori Hull-Smoak and Kim Roberts were also involved. The Moscow Ballet tours for two months during the holiday season. During that time, some 6,000 children in local communities across North America participate in the program.
Smoak has not returned phone calls left for him last week. But Tim Kushi, Moscow Ballet’s community organizer, says that relations with Smoak and the Charleston Dance Center are excellent. He says Magro is contracted for the duration of the tour. The tour ended last week. So did Magro’s contract.
“He’s a lighting designer,” Kushi says. “He does not speak for the ballet.”
Two follow-up phone calls to Magro were not returned. —John Stoehr