MOSCOW, July 9 (RIA Novosti) – The Bolshoi Theater’s director was dismissed Tuesday seven months after an acid attack on his artistic director and a series of scandals that tarnished the reputation of Russia’s most renowned ballet company.
Anatoly Iksanov headed Russia’s trademark cultural institution for almost 13 years.
His time at the helm saw scandals, corruption allegations and internal squabbles, many of which only became public after the January acid attack on artistic director Sergei Filin that left his face and eyesight badly damaged.
Despite this, the imposing, balding manager was credited with carrying out a radical makeover of the theater that had long been considered a bastion of traditionalism.
He invited controversial choreographers and composers, started online broadcasts of the theater’s performances and introduced workshops for young performers with little or no background in classical ballet.
Russia’s Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky announced Iksanov’s dismissal Tuesday, noting that the decision was “not spontaneous.”
“The complicated situation means that the theater needs a new start,” Medinsky told a news conference at the theater.
He added that Vladimir Urin, formerly the general director of Moscow’s Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Theater, will take over at the Bolshoi.
Iksanov’s dismissal follows the sacking of a man widely reputed to be his nemesis, dance star Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who has for months criticized the theater's management, saying that he would do a much better job.
Tsiskaridze said publicly that the massive renovation of the theater’s historic, 19th-century building that cost almost $800 million made it look like a “Turkish hotel.”
The renovation restored czarist insignia, silk tapestry and the original cavity resonator under the orchestra pit. A 2009 investigation found that millions of dollars were misspent by a series of subcontractors that were hired and fired by the Moscow government since 2005.
However, the renovation scandal was overshadowed by the acid attack on artistic director Filin. In January, a masked man tossed sulfuric acid into Filin’s eyes. After over a dozen operations, Filin has regained 10 percent vision in one eye, and is reportedly eager to return to work.
Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed in March that he hired two men to attack Filin for allegedly stalling the career of Dmitrichenko’s girlfriend, a Bolshoi ballerina.