New allegations suggest that the January Bolshoi Ballet acid attack on artistic director, Sergei Filin might have been in support of a disgruntled ballerina, according to a New York Times article published March 6, 2013. Bolshoi’s Anzhelina Vorontsova who had been denied lead roles allegedly due to her weight, is the girlfriend of Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, who confessed to hiring two men to carry out the attack on Filin. Investigators now suggest that the attacks were committed partly in retaliation over the treatment of Vorontsova.
First discovered at 16 by Filin, the relationship between Vorontsova and Filin soured when she left his company for the Bolshoi. Vorontsova supporters believe that when Filin later assumed the role as Bolshoi’s artistic director in 2011, he subsequently passed her over for key roles out of spite coupled with increasing criticism that she was too overweight to play the top roles she wanted: In a 2011 article in the newspaper Literaturnaya Gazeta author, Yevgeny Malikov wrote “there appeared a clamorous group, saying Vorontsova is ‘fat,’ that she will ‘break through the floor,’ that she cannot take one step on the stage without falling.” Bolshoi’s Marina Viktorovna told Izvestia that Anzhelina was “a capable young girl. But she's put on weight and she’s just not the right shape for the roles she aimed for. How could Filin fast-track her? Tsiskaridze (Bolshoi’s lead male dancer) worked with her and coached her, but she is basically too fat." According to the Brisbane Times, Filin assistant Dilyara Timergazina attributes escalating relations leading up to the attack between Filin and Dmitrichenko to Dec. 2012 when Filin denied Vorontsova the lead role in Swan Lake and Dmitrichenko the lead role in La Bayadere.
Criticism and controversy regarding a dancer’s weight is not uncommon in the world of dance. Dubbed ‘the fat ballerina’ Anastasia Volochkova made headlines when she was dismissed from the Bolshoi in 2003, and again in 2009, both times surrounding claims that she had gained too much weight, and male dancers complained her height and weight made her too hard to lift. In a Dec. 14, 2012 US News article, former National Ballet of Canada dancer Kathleen Rea described how she was fired after the company told her she had embarrassed the entire nation of Canada by looking "too fat" on stage. Former ballerina Lauren Warnecke, describes in her article “I Was A Teenage Fat Ballerina” for the The Dance Training Project how sporadic training and depression after a foot injury sustained during a dress rehearsal caused her to put on weight, resulting in her being fired from her modern dance company. Controversy can even errupt when concern is expressed regarding dancers' weight issues: Italian Ballet’s Mariafrancesca Garritano was fired in Jan. 2012 after telling a British newspaper that her fellow dancers in the La Scala Ballet were suffering from an "anorexia emergency," saying her words were false and damaging to their reputation.
Although Dmitrichenko had his own professional grudge against Filin, it is interesting that in an art form focused on the physical body, criticisms regarding weight can play a role in a violent retaliation. While employee dissatisfaction, jealousies, and conflict are not surprising in the competitive world of dance, to have resulted into such a vicious attack has been shocking to many. As Bolshoi soloist Anastasia Meskova comments of the Bolshoi acid attack on Filin: "It's unthinkable. We are artists, this is art. What does any of this have to do with art? It is just disgusting."
Ismene Brown Blog: Wednesday, 6 March 2013
Russian Police Say Dancer and Two Others Confess to Bolshoi Attack: The New York Times ELLEN BARRY, March 6, 2013