Bolshoi's ballet director maimed in acid attack

The artistic director of the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet troupe was splashed with acid and may lose his eyesight in an attack that the Bolshoi said appeared to be linked to struggles for influence at one of the world’s most famous ballet companies.

Sergei Filin, a 42-year-old former ballet star, was approached on Thursday night by an unidentified man who threw the acid on his face as he got out of his car outside his home in central Moscow, city police spokesman Arkady Bashirov said. Theatre officials said the man was masked.
The theatre’s general director, Anatoly Iksanov, said he believed the attack was linked to Filin’s work.

“He is a man of principle and never compromised,” Iksanov said on Channel One state television. “If he believed that this or that dancer was not ready or was unable to perform this or that part, he would turn them down.”

Filin knew that someone was trying to threaten him or undermine his position at the theater, Iksanov said. He said Filin’s car tires had been slashed earlier this week and he was targeted in early January by hackers who posted his professional correspondence online.

“He said ‘I have a feeling that I am on the front lines,’” Iksanov quoted Filin as telling him on Thursday before the attack. Filin, who danced for the Bolshoi from 1989 until 2007, was appointed artistic director of the Bolshoi’s ballet company in March 2011. Before returning to the Bolshoi, he served as artistic director at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater, Moscow’s second ballet company.

Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova, who visited Filin in the hospital on Thursday night, told that his condition is stable but he could lose his sight. “We never imagined that a war for roles, not for real estate or for oil, could reach this level of crime,” Novikova said on Channel One.

Several stars at the Bolshoi including Nikolai Tsiskaridze, one of its most celebrated dancers, have complained about what they call Filin’s unfair treatment of dancers at the Bolshoi. “What happened with Sergei Filin was not accidental,” Ratmansky, now artist in residence at the American Ballet Theater, posted on his Facebook page. Alexei Ratmansky, former Bolshoi artistic director, described an atmosphere of intrigue at the theatre.

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