'​If the Bolshoi is sick, it’s because Russia is too': the ballet company's backstage dramas

A new film probes the shocking assault on Sergei Filin, ballet director at Russia’s historic company, and sheds light on a toxic story of rivalry and state meddling

From 2013 to 2014, a small film crew was allowed unprecedented access to the Bolshoi ballet company, partly to tell the story of the shocking acid attack on its artistic director, Sergei Filin, in January 2013, but also to probe the background to that event. Bolshoi Babylon is a stylish fly-on-the-wall account of conditions within the Moscow company, but it’s also a chilling evocation of the larger politics that govern its home theatre. No one who’s seen Nick Read and Mark Franchetti’s film will be surprised to learn that, shortly after its completion, Filin was served notice that his job at the Bolshoi was over.

The criminal investigations and internal soul-searching that followed the acid attack opened a can of worms at the Bolshoi – and a few of them are captured on camera. Dancers hostile to Filin talk candidly about their reasons for resenting their director, and discuss chronic problems in management style – although many of these Filin inherited. But the film also goes wider and deeper in looking at the problems within the Bolshoi theatre itself, and at its historically close and dysfunctional connection with the state. As one interviewed source puts it: “If the Bolshoi is sick, it’s because Russia is sick too.”

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Source: Guardian Dance News

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