MOSCOW: The Bolshoi ballet's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, has dismissed as "nonsense and dirt" claims by a former ballerina that dancers were pimped out to wealthy patrons, as the company's infighting escalated.
Anastasia Volochkova appeared on state TV at the weekend alongside Mr Iksanov's rival, the ballet's principal dancer, Nikolai Tsiskaridze. She said the practice was now "a lot worse" than when she was fired from the theatre 10 years ago.
Mr Iksanov also hit out at Tsiskaridze, who on the same show said he was ready to take the general director's job. Speaking during a press conference at the Bolshoi building in Moscow on Tuesday, Mr Iksanov called on Tsiskaridze to resign from the ballet – he cannot fire him
A battle for control of Russia's most famous theatre has become public since an acid attack in January on the theater's artistic director, with Tsiskaridze and Mr Iksanov trading accusations.
Volochkova, who has previously said that dancers were pimped out as escorts at oligarch parties and was fired in 2003 for being overweight, repeated those claims.
"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," the former ballerina said.
Asked whom the dancers had to sleep with, she replied: "With certain oligarchs, some of them are members of the board of trustees [of the Bolshoi] or just the person organising the party."
Leading dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko was detained this month after confessing to organising the January 17 attack that damaged the face and eyes of the theatre's artistic director, Sergei Filin. He denied any intention to use acid in the assault. Two other men admitted to being the driver and the assailant and all three remain in custody.
Investigators last month cited rivalries at the Bolshoi as probable motives for the crime, particularly between supporters of Filin and of Tsiskaridze.
More than 300 members of the Bolshoi have come out in defense of Dmitrichenko. In an open letter to President Vladimir Putin and the media last week, they said the idea that the soloist was behind the crime was "absurd".
Mr Iksanov last week said he didn't believe Dmitrichenko was the mastermind of the acid attack and that another person ordered the assault.
Tsiskaridze has repeatedly denied involvement in the attack, most recently on the weekend TV show. He has accused Filin of seeking to turn one of his pupils against him in December by offering her a part in Swan Lake if she stopped taking lessons with him, a proposal he says she refused.
Girls are invited ... to a party, with dinner and a follow-up, in bed and going all the way.Anastasia Volochkova, former Bolshoi dancer
Filin, who is in Germany for further treatment, said last week he suspects a "very narrow circle of people" of being behind the attack, including Dmitrichenko.