Ballet politics turned ugly yesterday: Bolshoi Ballet artistic director Sergei Filin was attacked outside his home last night. A masked man threw a bottle of acid at his face. It’s been reported that Filin’s eyesight might be compromised and he will need extensive plastic surgery for his face. After a 15-hour operation in Moscow, Filin was flown to Brussels, Belgium this morning for special burns treatment. Doctors say his recovery may take up to six months.
Most believe Filin, 42, was attacked because of his position as artistic director. In a city that places great weight on its historic ballet company, the Bolshoi is known for vicious infighting. However, this is a particularly disturbing turn of events. The attack followed a series of threats, including phone calls, email hacking and tire slashing. Filin’s appointment in 2011, although a popular move in the West, was made amid fierce rivalries. Ismene Brown of theartsdesk.com writes, “In a country where ballet has unimaginable clout and glamour in political and business circles, fanatical differences go well beyond polite artistic debate. They are characterised as nationalistic, political, even historic, pitting reactionaries against progressives, true Russians against decadent Westernisers, and skulduggery is all too common among certain followers.” On his Facebook page, choreographer and former Bolshoi director Alexei Ratmansky wished Filin a “swift recovery and courage.” We do, too.