When Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi, suffered an acid attack outside his apartment in Moscow last month, it sent shock waves through the ballet world.
Time magazine’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ offers an astounding glimpse into the underworld of the Bolshoi Ballet. The article published in issue dated 25 February 2013 makes fascinating reading. Bolshoi’s outspoken principal dancer and teacher Nikolai Tsiskaridze had competed with Sergei Filin for the position of Artistic Director in 2011. Tsiskaridze claims that Filin only gained the post due to his alignment with the views of the Bolshoi’s General Director, Anatoly Iksanov. Animosity between Tsiskaridze and Filin had flared throughout their time as dancers and the gulf had widened over their differing views on the artistic direction the company should take. Perhaps Darren Aronofsky’s psychological thriller Black Swan starring Natalie Portman, is more real than we can imagine.
Back in the summer of 2006, Filin was partnered with Svetlana Zakharova in the first ever ballet I watched at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden – The Pharaoh’s Daughter. I dreamed of performing there and could hardly believe it when 18 months later, I too ran out into the battle scene of The Nutcracker on that very same stage.
Vincent Perez Bolshoi Photo Project provides a more aesthetically pleasing image of the famous Russian ballet company. Pictured here is the infamous Tsiskaridze with ballerina Shipulina.