Anatoly Iksanov, the general director of the Bolshoi Theatre, has confirmed that what’s seemed like a never-ending reconstruction of the Bolshoi’s historic building is finally coming to an end; he promised that a gala concert in October will cap a tough period in the life of this Russian symbol you can see on the crumpled face of a 100 ruble bill.
Iksanov’s announcement last month, however, came like a drink designed to take away the bitter aftertaste of the theater’s most recent scandal, in which several dozen pictures of explicit homosexual sex were displayed on a short-lived website closely resembling the Bolshoi’s official one.
The impostor site contained the biography of the ballet company’s long-time manager and popular character dancer, Gennadi Yanin, who appeared in the pictures. The photographs and links to the website were sent to hundreds of people associated with ballet across the world. Before this, Yanin had reportedly been viewed as the likeliest person to lead the ballet company, perhaps as acting chief. The Bolshoi’s previous artistic ballet chief, Yuri Burlaka, quit last month after his contract was not renewed.
The New Yorker talked to Pavel Gershenzon, a renowned critic and artistic adviser to the Bolshoi who on 6 March 2011 found a surprise in his email:
I opened my Gmail account that morning. There was a link: it began with the ornate letterhead of the Bolshoi Theatre and some sort of announcement. There was a photograph of Gennady Yanin, smiling, wearing a tie. Fine. Then I scrolled down, and then—there was another picture of Yanin, with a dick in his mouth! What the fuck is this! I kept scrolling. There were a hundred and eighty-three such photos of Yanin. Gay sex. Some heterosexual, too. I looked at all those pictures and I turned red. It turned out they’d been sent all over the world, to all theatres, to all agents, dancers, to the whole dance world. They say it even reached Yanin’s teen-age daughter.
Yanin has quit his post as manager but remains in the company as a dancer, says the LA Times:
My spirits are not low, and I don’t need anybody’s sympathy. I’d rather people would come and enjoy the Bolshoi’s productions.
Iksanov said the scandal was most likely the result of intrigues within the theatre.
There are some people in the theatre who would like to take the job of artistic director, and they must have played a role in this mean intrigue.
Photo: Backstage at the Bolshoi – the dressing room during an intermission of the Flames of Paris by Sergei L. Loiko / Los Angeles Times