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Acid Thrown In Face Of Bolshoi Ballet's Artistic Director; He May Lose Sight

Posted: January 18, 2013

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Sergei Filin may have been attacked by someone who is angry about which dancers he has chosen for starring roles, his family and colleagues tell news outlets.

Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, in 2011.

Sergei Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi ballet, in 2011. Yuri Kadobnov

A masked assailant threw acid into the face of the Bolshoi ballet's artistic director on Thursday in Moscow in what may have been a "reprisal for his selection of dancers in starring roles at the famed Russian company," The Associated Press reports.

Russia Today writes that 42-year-old Sergei Filin "may lose his sight." He "suffered severe burns of multiple degrees to his face and eyes," it adds. And, the news outlet reports that:

"It will take Filin at least six months to recover, Bolshoi spokesperson Ekaterina Novikova said. She added that Sergei Filin had received threats from anonymous callers before. 'We never imagined that a war for roles — not for real estate or for oil — could reach this level of crime,' Novikova said to Channel One.

"Bolshoi general director Anatoly Iksanov said he believed the attack was linked to Filin's work at the theater. 'He is a man of principle and never compromised," Iksanov said. '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.' "

The Wall Street Journal writes that "Filin reportedly has been plagued by numerous intimidation tactics over the last few weeks, including tire slashing and Facebook hacking."

According to The Guardian, Filin's family and colleagues say the attack "capped weeks of threats and intimidation."

Filin, "a dancer who rose through the ranks of the world's largest ballet company to become its head," became the artistic director in 2011, The New York Times says. It writes that:

"Among his first big decisions was to hire David Hallberg as a principal dancer — the first American to hold that coveted status, which has traditionally gone to Russian-trained dancers. ...

"Mr. Filin's leadership has not stood out as especially controversial. But Anastasia Volochkova, a former Bolshoi ballerina, said his power to assign roles made him the focus of sometimes passionate resentment. ...

"'The head of the ballet decides everything: what grants each artists receive, or maybe won't receive. Who will dance certain roles, and who won't dance them,' [she said in an interview with Ekho Moskvy, a radio station]. ... 'The cruelty of the ballet world has become surprisingly pathological.' "

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