The dance world reacted in shock when a masked assailant attacked Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia’s revered Bolshoi Ballet, near his home last month. The assailant threw sulphuric acid at Filin resulting in third-degree burns to his face. Filin, a former dancer who became artistic director in 2011 following the six-year renovation of the company’s famous home theatre in Moscow, had experienced a number of incidents prior to this attack. These included slashed tires, the disabling of two personal cellphones and the hacking and dissemination of his personal e-mail. Filin expressed his feelings of unease on the day of the attack to Bolshoi General Director Anatoly Iksanov. “Sergei told me that he had the feeling that he was on the front line,” Iksanov said in a press conference the day of the attack, and continued, “I told him, ‘Sergei, I’ve already been on the front line for the last two years, it is part of our profession, the profession of the leadership, so it’s normal.’” ‘Normal’ in that the Bolshoi has a history of infighting and petty sabotage. In 2003 former Bolshoi prima ballerina Anastasia Volochkova received death threats after she sued the theatre for unfair dismissal. She is quoted in “The Independent” saying, “People came to me with threats, even with knives, telling me to drop the case.” A week after Filin’s appointment in 2011, the theatre’s deputy director, Gennady Yanin, left his position after personal photographs were leaked onto the Internet. And this week, Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Lunkina refused to return to Russia after threats to her life over her producer husband Vladislav Moskalyev’s film about the great Russian imperial ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya. Lunkina has been living in Canada for the past six months and is currently teaching in Toronto. Though no clear motive has been found for the assault, Filin’s colleagues suspect this to be a case of professional envy, in particular over Filin’s casting choices for top roles. Fillin has been released from hospital with a prognosis of complete recovery in spite of worries that he would lose sight in one or both eyes. Principal dancer Galina Stepanenko will act as interim artistic director until Filin can resume his duties.
Tagged: Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, Choreography, Uncategorized, International