Former ballerina Anastasia Volochkova said the Bolshoi Ballet frequently pimped out its dancers to wealthy donors, almost as if it were a brothel.
Volochkova, a 37-year-old former ex-prima ballet star, said during an appearance on a Russian talk show Sunday that the company frequently pressured its dancers to attend parties with financial backers of the company. However, according to Volochkova, attendance to the parties also required the women sleep with the rich businessmen and if dancers didn’t oblige, they could be terminated.
"Unfortunately, the Bolshoi general director has turned the Bolshoi theatre into a giant brothel,” Volochkova said on the state-controlled NTV’s March 17 program, according to The Australian. "It mainly happened with the corps du ballet but also with the soloists. The girls were forced to go along to grand dinners and given advance warning that afterwards they would be expected to have sex. When the girls asked: 'What happens if we refuse?,' they were told that they would not go on tour or even perform at the Bolshoi theatre. Can you imagine?"
The interviewers also asked Volochkova who she has slept with, to which she replied: “With certain oligarchs, some of them are members of the board of trustees (of the Bolshoi) or just the person organizing the party,” Bloomberg reported.
Volochkova was fired from the Bolshoi Ballet in 2003, with rumors the reason for her dismissal was because she was too fat, ABC reported. She said it’s “a lot worse” for ballerinas being pimped out nowadays than when she was canned 10 years ago.
"Ten years ago when I was dancing at the theatre, I repeatedly received propositions to share the beds of oligarchs,” she said.
The Bolshoi general director, Anatoly Iksanov, dismissed Volochkova’s comments as “nonsense and dirt” during a press call on Tuesday to promote the Spring season. Theater spokesperson Katerina Novikova declined to comment to ABC News, saying “I don’t know yet if the [theater's] management has decided on how to react to everything that was said in the show.”
Russian news site RIA Novosti also said the Bolshoi has yet to determine how to handle the situation.
Volochkova’s comments about pimping out dancers are the latest conundrum for the Bolshoi, which has been chock full of problems since its artistic director, Sergei Filin, was doused with acid in January. One of the leading Bolshoi dancers, Pavel Dmitrichenko, was arrested earlier this month along with two others for ordering and carrying out the attack on Filin. Filin is currently in a German hospital recovering.
Worse yet, people began pointing fingers at other dancers who allegedly instigated Dmitrichenko to carry out the attack. Others, though believe Dmitrichenko only confessed to because he was under pressure, garnering the support of more than 300 members of the Bolshoi ballet.
Even more upheaval was apparent during Volochkova’s interview, which was conducted alongside principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze. According to The Associated Press, Tsiskaridze took jabs at General Director Anatoly Iksanov, saying he has created an environment that has “descended the theatre into crime and violence” leading up to the attack. Tsiskaridze also said he is “absolutely ready” to take on Iksanov’s job, which he has held for 13 years. However, Ikansov doesn’t believe Tsiskaridze is ready for the job.
"It's up to him to think that he's capable of taking charge of the Bolshoi," Iksanov said during the Tuesday press conference. "I don't think so, because beyond scandalousness and fame other qualities are needed."