Bolshoi to End 20-Year Relationship With Ballet Star Tsiskaridze

The Bolshoi Theater is breaking with Nikolai Tsiskaridze, a principal dancer and choreographer who has been locked in a battle with the ballet company since an acid attack on its artistic director in January.

The Moscow-based Bolshoi won’t renew Tsiskaridze’s contract when it ends on June 30, Katerina Novikova, the theater’s spokeswoman, said by text message.

“Everything is really confusing,” Georgian-born Tsiskaridze, who has danced at the Bolshoi for more than 20 years, told NTV television channel. “I’m a full-time member of the staff as a ballet dancer. And I didn’t write a note asking to let me go.”

The fight for control of Russia’s most famous theater, founded in 1776 by Catherine the Great, become public after the assault that scarred artistic director Sergei Filin’s face and damaged his eyes. Investigators in February cited rivalries at the Bolshoi as probable motives for the crime.

Tsiskaridze told the BBC in February that the theater’s management should be fired. In March, he said he was ready to replace Anatoly Iksanov, the Bolshoi’s general director, who then called on Tsiskaridze to resign because he couldn’t fire the dancer.

Iksanov in February told billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s Snob magazine that he believed Tsiskaridze was behind the Internet release of explicit gay photos that led to the resignation of Filin’s predecessor, Gennady Yanin, in 2011. Iksanov blamed Tsiskaridze for fostering animosity within the theater by openly seeking Filin’s job, though he didn’t accuse the star of ordering the attack.

Challenging Reprimands

Tsiskaridze received two reprimands from the theater for making unauthorized statements to the media following the attack. The dancer sued to have them expunged, saying they put him at danger of being fired. One of the disciplinary warnings was overturned by the Tverskoi District Court in April.

In March, police detained Pavel Dmitrichenko, a lead dancer at the Bolshoi, after he confessed to organizing an assault on Filin. Dmitrichenko denied that he had asked the attackers to use acid.

Tsiskaridze joined the Bolshoi in 1992 as a dancer and in 2004 became a choreographer. In 2001, he became one of the youngest to be named a People’s Artist of Russia and has won national and international awards for performances in the Queen of Spades, Raymonda and Giselle.

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