Bolshoi Denies It Pimped Out Ballerinas to Rich Donors

MOSCOW - The world-famous Bolshoi ballet has reportedly dismissed claims by a former top ballerina that the dance company pimped out its female dancers to wealthy donors.

Former ballet star Anastasia Volochkova made the claim during an appearance on a Russian talk show on Sunday, calling the theater a "giant brothel."

She said ballerinas were pressured by the theater's management to attend parties thrown by its biggest financial backers, often with the expectation that they would then follow the rich businessmen to bed. She said resistance could lead to professional repercussions within the theater.

Volochkova was dismissed by the Bolshoi in 2003, reportedly because the company thought she was too fat.

The Bolshoi's general manager Anatoly Iksanov dismissed the allegations, saying, according to Russian news reports, "I don't comment on dirt and nonsense."

Yesterday, theater spokesperson Katerina Novikova declined to comment on the specific claims, 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."

The claims are just the latest black eye for the Bolshoi, which is still reeling from a vicious acid attack on its artistic director in January.

Sergei Filin was doused with sulfuric acid as he walked to his apartment building on Jan. 17. Earlier this month, police arrested Pavel Dmitrichenko, a top Bolshoi dancer, and two other men for allegedly ordering and carrying out the attack.

The attack sent shock waves through the Bolshoi, with fingers being pointed at other top dancers who some believe may have instigated the attack. Last week, however, several hundred Bolshoi employees signed a letter siding with Dmitrichenko, suggesting he confessed to masterminding the attack only after being pressured to do so.

Filin suffered severe burns on his face and is currently recovering in a German hospital where doctors are scrambling to save his eyesight.