Bolshoi won't renew Sergei Filin’s contract as ballet director

44-year-old, who nearly lost his sight in an acid attack in 2013, defended his programme of innovation, under fire from conservatives at famed Russian theatre, when troupe performed in Hong Kong this year

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2015, 6:53pm
UPDATED : Friday, 31 July, 2015, 11:26am

Russia’s famed Bolshoi theatre on Thursday announced it would not renew the contract of its ballet troupe’s artistic director, Sergei Filin, who was injured in a brutal 2013 acid attack.

 “The general director of the Bolshoi Theatre Vladimir Urin told artistic director Sergei Filin at an end-of-season meeting that his contract would not be renewed when it expires in March 2016,” the theatre said in a statement.

 Filin was left scarred and partially blind after he was doused with acid on the orders of a ballet soloist in January 2013 in an attack that rocked the dance world.

 The trial of Filin’s attackers, which ended with dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko being jailed for six years, uncovered bitter backstage rivalries and jaw-dropping allegations that Filin handed out roles in exchange for money and sexual favours.

 Former principal dancer Filin told Russia’s state Tass news agency that he had “no reason to take offence”, as he had expected that he would not be offered a new contract.

 “In the modern world this is normal practice. I consider it fair,” he said. “I have to move on, developing myself as a professional, doing something new.”

 Bolshoi director Urin told Tass that the decision not to offer Filin a new contract was linked to the “affairs of the internal life of the theatre”.

 Filin is set to remain in charge throughout the upcoming season and the theatre said he had been offered a role “cooperating” with Bolshoi after his contract ends.

 Urin said that the current post of artistic director would be scrapped once Filin leaves and replaced with a less wide-ranging role.

 The name of the next ballet head would likely be announced in September, Urin said.

There has long been a conservative faction at the Bolshoi opposed to Filin’s policy of creating a more modern, international repertoire. Addressing that issue in an interview earlier this year with the South China Morning Post, Filin was unbowed, saying:  “Look, if you live in a house and the neighbour doesn’t like you - maybe you’re too modern, too rich, you have a better car than he does - what do you do?  Move out?  The only thing you can do is… Love your neighbour.”

Additional reporting by Natasha Rogai