Ballet blues: drama rocks the Bolshoi

Can Russian stoicism weather an acid attack, a fleeing ballerina and a cancelled premiere?

If it¹s true that bad things come in threes, the Bolshoi must be looking forward to a welcome respite after what has been a turbulent month even by its notoriously histrionic standards.

The first blow was the highly publicised acid attack on its artistic director Sergei Filin in January. The incident took place in the street outside Filin¹s apartment and left him with serious burns to eyes and face. After five operations he is due to fly to Germany for emergency treatment in an attempt to fully restore his sight, crucial for his work with the ballet. He has been in regular contact with the acting artistic director Galina Stepanenko. The likely object of the vicious attack was to remove him from his creative post, but speculation has been rife as to the motivations of the perpetrators. Filin has stated that he is "absolutely certain" that he knows who was behind the assault but that he will not name names until the authorities have completed their investigations. He also claimed to have
forgiven those involved.

The second disaster was the mysterious departure of leading ballerina Svetlana Lunkina, after receiving a string of undisclosed threats, apparently unrelated to the attack on Filin. From a location in Canada, Ms Lunkina told the Russian daily Izvestia that she had taken leave until the end of the current season. The troubles appear to stem from a $3.5 million
lawsuit relating to a film in which her husband is involved. The ballerina was keen to rule out any link with the Filin affair, but her departure comes as another blow to the Bolshoi company.

The final straw came with the cancellation of British choreographer Wayne McGregor¹s highly anticipated new production of The Rite of Spring, in which Lunkina was expected to dance a principal role. The staging would have commemorated the 100th anniversary of work and the notorious riot at its Paris premiere. The ballet was scheduled to be filmed in
high-definition for worldwide distribution and was to have been seen across Australia in May. In a statement from the theatre, the Bolshoi and McGregor "have come to a joint decision to postpone The Rite of Spring due to the fact that Mr Sergei Filin is hospitalised. The date of the production will be determined after the Artistic Director returns to the theatre".

Barring further unforseen disasters, the Bolshoi tour to Brisbane in June.

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Ballet blues: drama rocks the Bolshoi
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