The Bolshoi, Russia's prestigious ballet company most recently known as the site of a horrendous acid attack, is now being slammed by one of its former ballerinas as a "brothel," where dancers were forced to sleep with oligarchs.
Per the BBC, the ex-ballerina Anastasia Volochkova charged in both a talk show and radio interview that general director Anatoly Iksanov turned the company "into a giant brothel," claiming: "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 Guardian explains that Volockhkova said on Russia's NTV: "Girls are invited each in turn by the administrator, who explains that they are going to a party, with dinner and a follow-up, in bed and going all the way." Bloomberg notes that Volochkova alleged that the practice is now worse than ten years ago, when she was fired from the company.
Volochkova, of course, has been on the outs with the company—and especially Iksanov—for years. In 2003 Iksanov fired her for being too "fat," according to David Remnick's recently take on the theatre. Remnick wrote that she "occupies a place in Russian pop culture these days somewhere between a ringer on 'Dancing with the Stars' and a cast member of 'The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.' Curvaceous and bleached, Volochkova is the cartoonish epitome of garish, new-money Russia. She has made the intimate acquaintance of one obliging oligarch after another." In 2011 Julia Ioffe at the New Yorker called Volochkova, who has also been involved in Russian politics, a "real Black Swan."
Iksanov has said of Volochkova's allegations: "I don't comment on dirt and ravings." (Others have translated his comments as "nonsense and dirt.") And yet we've learned recently that "dirt and ravings" can actually hold a lot of weight in the world of the Bolshoi.