24 Jan 2013

Acting artistic director appointed at Bolshoi

6:14 am on 24 January 2013

The Bolshoi Theatre has appointed a former prima ballerina as a temporary replacement for its artistic director who is in hospital after an acid attack.

Galina Stepanenko joined the ballet company in 1990, retiring last year.

Sergei Filin was walking home in central Moscow when a masked man threw acid in his face on Thursday.

Stepanenko said she would fulfil Filin's plans and stick to his chosen repertoire, beginning with the opening of La Bayadere on Thursday.

Stepanenko and Filin, who are both aged 42, danced together for many years. She has been described as "a virtuoso of classical dance."

Announcing his temporary replacement, Bolshoi executive director, Anatoly Iksanov said Stepanenko was Filin's choice to serve as acting artistic director and he supported the decision.

The BBC reports Filin received threats for months prior to the attack outside his apartment complex.

It was suspected that he was the victim of infighting and rows between different groups of dancers at the Bolshoi.

Filin had surgery on his face on Tuesday and is scheduled to have a second operation on Wednesday. Doctors are most concerned about saving the sight in his right eye.

Iksanov said Filin would return to his position at the Bolshoi, although it was not clear when that would be.

Tensions at the Bolshoi over its artistic programme have been widely reported in Russian media.

In 2011, two ballet stars - Natalia Osipova and Ivan Vasiliev - resigned in protest at the Bolshoi's new repertoire.