Bolshoi dancer who played villains admits acid attack in real-life ‘Black Swan’ incident

Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet, speaks to journalists as he leaves a hospital in Moscow February 4, 2013. Filin was quoted on Sunday as saying he knew who was behind an attack on him in which a masked assailant splashed acid over his face threatening his eyesight.  Credit: Reuters
Sergei Filin, artistic director of Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet, speaks to journalists as he leaves a hospital in Moscow February 4, 2013. Filin was quoted on Sunday as saying he knew who was behind an attack on him in which a masked assailant splashed acid over his face threatening his eyesight.
Credit: Reuters

A dancer at Russia’s Bolshoi ballet who made his name playing villains has confessed to ordering the acid attack that nearly blinded its director, angry that his lover was being kept out of leading roles.

Pavel Dmitrichenko, who has danced the crazed monarch in Ivan the Terrible and the villain in Swan Lake, was detained on Tuesday for a crime that shocked Russia and blackened the reputation of the world-famous theatre.

Dmitrichenko was shown haggard and unkempt in a police video confessing to plotting the attack, in which a masked man threw a jar of sulfuric acid in the face of artistic director Sergei Filin late on January 17.

“I organized this attack, but not to the extent that it happened,” he said, apparently meaning he did not intend the attack go so far.

Two other men who had no known connection to the Bolshoi also confessed in the video, made available by police to Reuters and other media.

One said he had thrown the acid at Filin and the other that he had driven the getaway car.

Dmitrichenko, who is in his late 20s, said he had given the reasons for the attack in a written statement to police but did not say what they were on camera.

A source at the Bolshoi confirmed media reports that the outspoken dancer was angry that his partner, ballerina Anzhelina Vorontsova, had missed out on top roles including the lead in Swan Lake.

“Filin certainly squeezed out Vorontsova, but that is not a reason to throw acid in someone’s face,” the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Moscow police said they believed the motive was personal hostility based on a conflict at work.

Before flying to Germany for treatment last month to save his sight, Filin, 42, said he believed he knew who was behind the attack and that he thought it was connected with his work. He is recovering and is expected back at work this summer.

IVAN THE TERRIBLE

The management of the Bolshoi, which declined to make any comment on Wednesday, had been hoping none of the ballet company was involved in the attack. The theatre is now in turmoil.

Dmitrichenko, born in Moscow to a family of dancers, had been at the Bolshoi since 2002 and was to dance in “Sleeping Beauty” this month.

He could face years in prison if convicted. The three suspects have not yet been charged and are due to appear in court on Thursday.

LifeNews, a Russian website with close ties to police, said suspected attacker Yury Zarutsky and suspected driver Andrei Lipatov had been found by tracking phone calls made from the crime scene.

Police said the suspects had used phones registered under other names to organize the attack, and that Dmitrichenko had called his accomplices to report Filin was on his way home.

The suspected attacker bought the acid at a car parts store and concentrated it by steaming away water, they said.

Newspapers published photographs on Wednesday of a scowling Dmitrichenko in costume as Ivan the Terrible, the mad tsar who killed his son and heir.

An aide to Filin suggested Dmitrichenko had identified with the characters he played.

“That Dmitrichenko constantly threatened everyone as though he really were Ivan the Terrible or (Swan Lake’s) evil genius – roles he played with depth and clear pleasure … is without doubt,” said Dilyara Timergazina.

In a recent interview with Vechernyaya Moskva newspaper, Dmitrichenko praised Ivan, under whom Russia’s empire expanded.

“Ivan the Terrible is a strong personality … at that time there was much war and we are still benefiting from (his) harsh measures,” he was quoted as saying.

In a 2011 interview, Dmitrichenko said “a theatre falls apart without dictatorship, especially ballet”, but described himself as an unruly student in ballet school.

“I threw firecrackers at teachers – and ballet requires discipline,” he told the news website Chastny Korrespondent in February 2011. “I didn’t get serious until I was 16.”

Dmitrichenko said his father had wanted him to play ice hockey, but his mother coaxed him into taking a ballet school entrance exam when he was seven by promising him a candy bar.

“I’m not a careerist or even a ballet fanatic, really. It’s just that, at the moment, dancing makes me feel good,” he was quoted as saying. “And I think you should do what you like in life, if it does not bother others.”

HISTORY OF INTRIGUE

As artistic director, Filin had the power to make or break careers. Tales of his uncompromising grip on the troupe and disagreements with dancers have been widely reported.

The theatre has been no stranger to intrigue since it was founded in 1776, and has had five artistic directors since 1995.

General Manager Anatoly Iksanov came under fire over scandals in the past decade and for what critics say are falling standards at the theatre. He argued publicly with veteran dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze, who challenged him for his job.

In 2003 bosses were criticized for trying to fire ballerina Anastasia Volochkova for being too heavy. In 2011, deputy ballet director Gennady Yanin, candidate for the artistic director post, quit after pornographic images of him appeared on the Internet.

The theatre reopened to great fanfare in 2011 after a six-year, $700-million renovation that restored its tsarist opulence but was criticized for going far over budget.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Mayor pledges lower greenhouse gas emissions from New…

Just hours before the start of the People’s Climate March on Sunday, and two days ahead of the United Nations Climate Summit, Mayor Bill de…

National

The best places to see the Northern Lights…

A large solar storm hit the Earth's atmosphere and will tonight illuminate the skies with aurora borealis -- also known as the Northern Lights.

Local

Police officer killed Sunday morning Bronx crash, 8…

One NYPD police officer was killed and eight other officers were injured early Sunday morning when the van they were traveling in crashed  in the…

National

Pennsylvania police shooter manhunt near home of suspect's…

A police manhunt intensified on Friday for the gunman who killed an officer and wounded another in an ambush at a Pennsylvania police barracks a week ago.

Television

'How to Get Away with' mischaracterizing Shondra Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes read Alessandra Stanley's New York Times piece about her being "an angry black woman" and "a romance writer" and it did not sit well with her.

Gossip

New nude celebrity selfies leak … and Clay…

A new batch of nude selfies of Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, Vanessa Hudgens, Lake Bell and Avril Lavigne hit the web and Clay Aiken has something to say!

Television

James Spader's route to villainy on "The Blacklist"

In honor of the second season premiere of "The Blacklist" tonight, where James Spader plays good guy/bad guy Raymond “Red” Reddington, it’s a good time to look back at Spader’s…

Television

True Detective

NFL

Jay Cutler takes Marc Trestman's coaching to heart

While Jay Cutler turned to an autobiography on the man who would be his head coach, Trestman had personal experience with the player.

NFL

Jets vs. Bears: 3 things to watch

Jets fans likely chalked up Monday's matchup with the Bears as a loss when the NFL schedule came out. But given their team's play so…

NFL

Rashad Jennings carries Giants in first win this…

Rashad Jennings, who came to New York from Oakland last year, by way of Jacksonville, was highly coveted this offseason by general manager Jerry Reese.

NFL

3 things we learned as Giants pick up…

The Giants picked up their first win of the season over the Texans.

Career

Here's how to make the most of visit…

You’re primped, you’re looking polished, you’re prepared with a stack of resumes. Job fair hunters, unite! There are a few things to keep in mind…

Education

Learn how to study effectively and stop cramming…

Picture this: It’s midterm week, and college students everywhere are trying to frantically memorize all of the math formulas, political theories and historical facts that…

Parenting

How motherhood inspired Bethenny Frankel's new book

Bethenny Frankel's new children's book is about how her daughter and dog didn't always get alone.

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.