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New details on Bolshoi acid attack shock dance world

March 07, 2013|By Deborah Vankin
  • Bolshoi Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed to having planned an attack on the company's artistic director.
Bolshoi Ballet dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed to having planned… (Zemlianichenko / Associated…)

Details about the vicious acid attack on Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin continue to unfurl after principal dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko's confession Wednesday.

Now Dmitrichenko, 29, has admitted to masterminding the plot against Filin, but he said that he paid Yuri Zarutski about $1,600 to scare and hit Filin, not douse Filin in sulfuric acid.

The drama and intrigue of these events -- as they continue to develop -- have not only shed a spotlight on bitter infighting within the Bolshoi, but have also sent the international dance world spinning with speculation.

"Infighting is pretty normal, especially in big companies,” said Desmond Richardson, founder and director of New York City's Complexions Contemporary Ballet.

“There’s always the drama of the dancers agreeing or disagreeing with the director’s choices. But this is way beyond anything I’ve ever heard of -- this seems very personal.”

Indeed it was "personal resentment related to his work" that sparked Dmitrichenko to plan the attack, police said, according to reports in the Russian media. Dmitrichenko's girlfriend, Anzhelina Vorontsova, reportedly had conflicts with Filin over roles she wanted, though it's not clear if that was the reason for the attack.

"I organized the attack, but not to the extent of the damage that happened," Dmitrichenko admitted to Russia's Channel One.

Thordal Christensen, co-artistic director of the Los Angeles Ballet, says that change within historical arts institutions like the Bolshoi often can be divisive.

“The Bolshoi is an old company, and when you have an older company, there’s more luggage as to how you do things,” he says. “It appears Filin was trying to do something different.

"The last seven to 10 years, the Bolshoi has been trying to do more modern repertoire. If you want to make progress, you have to make change, and that means each individual must change. And it appears that’s what’s been hard for them.”

Richardson, whose company is headed to Russia later this month for a two-week dance tour, is nonetheless optimistic about the Bolshoi’s future.

“This will pass by,” he says. “ I really think they will move on and do what they do, which is great dancing."

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