Bolshoi ballet names acting artistic director

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Associated Press

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 12:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 3:01 PM

MOSCOW (AP) — The Bolshoi ballet on Tuesday named a former prima ballerina to fill in for artistic director Sergei Filin, whose face and eyes were burned in an acid attack.

The appointment of Galina Stepanenko, who joined the famed ballet company in 1990 and retired from dancing only last year, was announced by the Bolshoi general director and Russia's culture minister during a meeting with the dancers.

The acid attack on Filin last week was seen as possible retaliation for his selection of certain dancers over others for prized roles. His attacker has not been identified.

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

Bolshoi Theater general director Anatoly Iksanov said Stepanenko was Filin's choice to serve as acting artistic director and that he supported the decision. Filin and Stepanenko, both 42, had danced together for many years.

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

Asked by journalists about intrigue and infighting at the Bolshoi, she said the ballet company was composed of many "brilliant, very diverse, very talented people."

"I think that we will now respect, value and especially take care of one another," Stepanenko said.

Iksanov said Filin would return to his position, although when he would be able to do so was not known. The prognosis for his recovery will be clear in 10 to 14 days, the general director said.

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