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Bolshoi ballet chief has surgery after acid attack
Question of the Day
“I got scared and I thought he was going to shoot me,” Filin, his face and head covered with white bandages, told REN TV. “I turned around to run, but he raced ahead of me.”
The attacker then fled the scene. Police, who spoke with Filin in the hospital, said they were working to determine the attacker’s identity. Blurry video of the attack from a closed-circuit camera was shown on state television.
The attack left Bolshoi management jittery. Iksanov later Friday backed away from the suggestion that it was linked to Filin’s casting decisions, and Channel One deleted his statement from its reports.
Filin, who danced for the Bolshoi from 1989 until 2007, was appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi’s ballet company in March 2011. Before that, he served as artistic director at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater, Moscow’s second ballet company.
He is the sixth artistic director at the Bolshoi since Yuri Grigorovich, who led the dance company for three decades, resigned in 1995 after losing a protracted dispute with theater management. Successive artistic directors have been unable to overcome the resistance from dancers and teachers still loyal to Grigorovich as they tried to inject new life into the company. But Filin was seen as capable of bridging that gap, since he was a Bolshoi veteran who later brought modern works to Moscow’s second ballet company.
Yet several stars at the Bolshoi, including celebrated dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, have complained about what they called Filin’s unfair treatment of dancers at the theater.
In a newspaper interview Friday, Tsiskaridze said the attack on Filin was most likely related to either his love life or his control over the lavish government funds allocated to the theater.
Alexei Ratmansky, the Bolshoi ballet’s artistic director from 2004 until 2008, described an atmosphere of intrigue at the dance company.
“What happened with Sergei Filin was not accidental,” Ratmansky, now an artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theater, posted on his Facebook page. “The Bolshoi has many ills. It’s a disgusting cesspool, of those developing friendships with the artists, the speculators and scalpers, the half-crazy fans ready to bite the throats of the rivals of their favorites, the cynical hackers, the lies in the press and the scandalous interviews of staff.
“This is all one snowball caused by the lack of any ethics at the theater.”
But Bolshoi dancers Svetlana Zakharova and Yan Godovsky downplayed the tensions at the company, saying there were disagreements but not “on this scale.” Zakharova, a prima ballerina, teared up when speaking about Filin.
“We’ve just realized that the job of a Bolshoi Theater director is a very dangerous one,” she said.
Shortly after Filin’s appointment, two soloists left the theater in protest. Also around that time, ballet company manager Gennady Yanin quit after erotic photographs of him were posted online in what appeared to be an effort to push him aside.
“The Bolshoi Theater is no isolated island,” theater critic Alla Gerber, a cultural adviser to the Kremlin, said on a television talk show devoted to the attack. “It has absorbed all of the horrors happening in Russia.”
By Tom Harris and Madhav Khandekar
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