MOSCOW, RUSSIA (MARCH 21, 2013) (REUTERS) - The acting artistic director of the embattled Bolshoi Ballet said on Thursday (March 21) that dancers at Russia's most famous theatre are finding solace in their creative work and would survive the scandal surrounding it.
Following the Jan. 17 attack on artistic director Sergei Filin, in which he was splashed in the face with acid, rumours and recriminations have proved a distraction for the theatre.
Bolshoi leading soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko and two other men were arrested earlier this month for the assault that may cost Filin his sight in one eye. Hundreds of Bolshoi employees balked at Dmitrichenko's arrest and signed an open letter supporting his innocence and calling for an investigation and greater oversight of the theatre.
Meanwhile, high profile former and current dancers have commented on the attack and made scandalous accusations about the company. Former ballerina Anastasia Volochkova claimed on national television that the ballet forced young dancers to escort theatre VIPs as in a "brothel".
Stepanenko, who spoke to the media after unveiling a permanent exhibit and and ballet studio dedicated to Bolshoi legendary ballerina Galina Ulanova, said that the company would prevail against forces that tried to disrupt it.
"The way I see it, the troupe stands united. Everyone is working together, and we find escape in our creative work. In all, I think that art will win in the end," she said.
"Without a doubt, everyone is nervous, but it's a normal working atmosphere. A working, creative atmosphere. Performances are going on; people are working; and we will survive this," Stepanenko added.
The former prima ballerina said she was hurt by the allegations lobbed at the theatre, and questioned why people continued to try to discredit her colleagues.
"It's definitely very difficult (to hear people criticise the Bolshoi), I don't even have the strength to listen to those insults. That's why I hope that the theatre's management will take the measures to protect us from it," she said.
Stepanenko said for now, dancers, teachers and Bolshoi artists are trying to refocus attention on what they do best: performing.
The ballet plans a premiere gala for "The Rite of Spring" on March 28.