Acid attack against ballet director - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Ballet director attacked with acid in wake of power struggle for Bolshoi

Posted: Updated:

MOSCOW (AP) - A masked assailant threw acid at the artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater ballet, an attack that colleagues say may leave him partially blind and appeared to be linked to power struggles at the famed Russian dance company.

Sergei Filin, a 42-year-old former ballet star, said he was approached late Thursday night by a man who threw the acid at his face as he approached the high gate at the entrance to his apartment building in central Moscow.

"I got scared and I thought he was going to shoot me," Filin, his head and face covered with white bandages, said in an interview with REN TV. "I turned around to run, but he raced ahead of me."

Filin said the attacker wore a hood and either a mask or a scarf, so only his eyes were visible.

The theater'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 threatening him or trying to undermine his position, 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 Thursday before the attack.

Iksanov later backed away from the suggestion that the attack was linked to Filin's casting decisions.

"The goal (of the attack) was to create a split and disagreement in the theater's management," Iksanov told journalists gathered at the theater. Channel One deleted his statement from its reports later in the day.

Bolshoi principal dancer Svetlana Zakharova teared up when speaking about Filin.

"We've just realized that the job of a Bolshoi Theater director is very dangerous one," she said.

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 Thursday night, told The Associated Press that his condition was stable but he could lose his sight. She also appeared to confirm that a disagreement over roles may have played a part in the attack.

"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 theater.

Alexei Ratmansky, who was the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director from 2004 until 2008, described an atmosphere of intrigue at the theater.

"What happened with Sergei Filin was not accidental," Ratmansky, now an artist-in-residence at the American Ballet Theater, posted on his Facebook page. "The Bolshoi has many ills. It's a disgusting cesspool, of those developing friendships with the artists, the speculators and scalpers, the half-crazy fans ready to bite the throats of the rivals of their favorites, the cynical hackers, the lies in the press and the scandalous interviews of staff.

"This is all one snowball caused by the lack of any ethics at the theater."

Filin is the sixth artistic director at the Bolshoi since Yuri Grigorovich, who led the dance company for three decades, resigned in 1995 after losing a protracted dispute with theater management. Successive artistic directors, however, were unable to overcome resistance from dancers and teachers still loyal to Grigorovich as they tried to inject new life into the company.

Filin, a Bolshoi veteran who had brought modern ballets to Stanislavsky, was seen as capable of bridging that gap.

Dancers Zakharova and Yan Godovsky played down talk of tensions at the company, saying there were disagreements but not "on this scale."

Filin will be flown to Brussels later Friday to be treated at a military hospital that specializes in burns, Bolshoi spokeswoman Novikova said.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Top StoriesMore>>

  • "Suspicious package" shuts down I-75 NB & SB at I-280 split

    "Suspicious package" shuts down I-75 NB & SB at I-280 split

    Monday, April 21 2014 10:11 AM EDT2014-04-21 14:11:46 GMT
    We are following some breaking news, Toledo Police have shutdown I-75 Northbound between Manhattan and Alexis road due to a suspicious package. According to police dispatchers, the bomb squad is on the scene. At this point, drivers are asked to avoid the area. 13abc has a crew on the way and will bring you new developments as soon as they become available.
    We are following some breaking news, Toledo Police have shutdown I-75 Northbound between Manhattan and Alexis road due to a suspicious package. According to police dispatchers, the bomb squad is on the scene. At this point, drivers are asked to avoid the area. 13abc has a crew on the way and will bring you new developments as soon as they become available.
  • Search crews come up empty handed after another day on the water

    Search crews come up empty handed after another day on the water

    Sunday, April 20 2014 9:46 PM EDT2014-04-21 01:46:17 GMT
    The search resumes today for two men who disappeared on Lake Erie. Bryan Huff and Andrew Rose were out with two women on Wednesday for a fishing trip. The four were out catching fish on the lake in Carroll Township and were presumably on the way in for night, but never returned. The two women, Amy Santus and Paige Widmer, were found dead in the water nearby the partially capsized boat. According to investigators both women were wearing life jackets and died from drowning. The Ohio Depar...
    The search resumes today for two men who disappeared on Lake Erie. Bryan Huff and Andrew Rose were out with two women on Wednesday for a fishing trip. The four were out catching fish on the lake in Carroll Township and were presumably on the way in for night, but never returned. The two women, Amy Santus and Paige Widmer, were found dead in the water nearby the partially capsized boat. According to investigators both women were wearing life jackets and died from drowning. The Ohio Depar...
  • Sleeping man injured when car crashes into bedroom

    Sleeping man injured when car crashes into bedroom

    Saturday, April 19 2014 9:12 PM EDT2014-04-20 01:12:40 GMT
    A man was injured by a car inside his own bedroom on Saturday afternoon. He was sleeping in the bedroom of his apartment on Brownstone around 5:30 p.m. when a Buick crashed through the wall.
    A man was injured by a car inside his own bedroom on Saturday afternoon. He was sleeping in the bedroom of his apartment on Brownstone around 5:30 p.m. when a Buick crashed through the wall.

Area Events Calendar

See It, Shoot It, Send It!