"The state spends a fortune to support our ballet school and at the same time the theater hires a foreigner, an American, to open the ballet season on the historical stage instead of all the great Russian dancers that we have."
Tsiskaridze, a longtime principal dancer of the company, is scheduled to perform the same role the fourth performance, on Wednesday. He said that the company's management, in hiring Hallberg, projects a certain attitude, and because of that, among other things, "Russian dancers see no future for them in the Bolshoi."
Tsiskaridze's bitter words echoed in the wake of the news that rocked the Bolshoi earlier this week when the company's star couple of premier dancer Ivan Vasiliev and prima-ballerina Osipova announced that they are leaving the Bolshoi and moving to St. Petersburg's Mikhailovsky Ballet, newly headed by Spaniard Nacho Duato.
"There comes a moment when you need to move on, when you want to develop, to try something new, new, new," Vasiliev said in a recent interview with First Channel, the Russian television network.
The Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov called it "an attack on the Bolshoi by some business" luring its best dancers away by "unthinkable high contracts."
Bolshoi spokeswoman Yekaterina Novikova said that the controversy was in no way connected with Hallberg.
For his part, Hallberg said that he can understand his friends and colleagues' "search for something else."
"They were definitely a bright energy to the Bolshoi Theatre and obviously among its biggest stars, but you know, all artists need to search for themselves, to find their own challenges, situations and discover new things," Hallberg said. "And if they feel that they will be afforded new opportunities at Mikhailovsky I give them my blessing and I won't discourage their search for something else.
"That is exactly what I did myself by coming to the Bolshoi Theatre as people were asking why I was leaving America, whether it was something that I couldn't find in America, whether I was defecting," he added. "No, I am not defecting. I am just spreading my wings and looking for new opportunities."