Russia's Bolshoi Theater appoints new ballet director after acid attack scandal

Mon Oct 26, 2015 9:08am EDT
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By Andrew Osborn

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Bolshoi Theater presented a new director for its world-famous ballet troupe on Monday, a position it said it was creating after its outgoing artistic director was nearly blinded in an acid attack.

Vladimir Urin, the theater's director general, said Makhar Vaziev, currently director of ballet at Milan's La Scala opera house, would become the Bolshoi's new ballet director, part of a restructuring the renowned institution's fans hope will restore its scandal-tainted reputation.

The appointment follows a 2013 acid attack on Sergei Filin, the Bolshoi's artistic director, which lifted the lid on poisonous rivalries over roles, money and power at one of Russia's most prominent cultural institutions.

"Makhar Vaziev needs no introduction," said Urin, in a statement on the Bolshoi's web site after a news conference at which he presented Vaziev. "The theater world knows his name not only in Russia but also abroad."

Urin said Vaziev, 54, was a brilliant dancer in his time, before going on to lead the ballet troupe at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg for 13 years. Vaziev had been in charge of ballet at La Scala for the last seven years, he said, during which he had taken the troupe there "to a new level."

He will start his new role in March next year when Filin, who had acid splashed in his face as he returned to his Moscow apartment in January 2013, will step down.

A court in December that year convicted Pavel Dmitrichenko, a Bolshoi soloist, of organizing the attack; he is currently serving a five-and-a-half year jail term.

Yuri Zarutsky, who admitted being the masked attacker who threw acid in Filin's face, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, a term subsequently reduced to nine years.   Continued...

Newly appointed Director of the Bolshoi Ballet Makhar Vaziev attends a news conference at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, October 26, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov