Bolshoi Ballet Artistic Director Sergei Filin back at work after health scare


A portrait of Sergei Filin, The Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Ballet, from April 9th, 2014. Filin has recovered from an allergic reaction to an eye treatment that sent him to the hospital June 27, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. (Jesse Dittmar/For The Washington Post)
Dance critic

Bolshoi Ballet Artistic Director Sergei Filin, 43, has recovered from an acute allergic reaction to an eye treatment that sent him to the hospital Friday, according to the Russian news agency Interfax. Filin, who was nearly blinded in a 2013 acid attack, wasted no time getting back to the theater for rehearsals, an associate said Sunday.

Interfax reported that Filin was discharged Sunday from Moscow’s Sklifosovsky Research Institute and is in “normal” condition. He then returned to rehearsals at the Bolshoi Theater, where he is overseeing a new production of “The Taming of the Shrew” set to premiere July 4.

Sarah Kaufman received the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism. She is the author of THE ART OF GRACE: On Moving Well Through Life, coming in Nov. 2015. She has been The Washington Post's dance critic since 1996, and after logging time in opera houses, black boxes, and dive bars, what moves her most is seeing grace happen where she least expects it. View Archive

On Friday, an allergic reaction caused swelling, “something similar to the attack from allergy to peanuts,” said Filin’s friend, and former adviser at the Bolshoi, Dilyara Timergazina in an e-mail. “His condition was immediately taken care of, but it was decided to take him to the hospital for further observation and detoxication. He is fine now.”

Interfax reported that the allergic condition is called Quincke’s edema.

Reports on Filin’s condition varied over the weekend, with some Web sites reporting he was in grave or critical condition, or in a heart unit. Timergazina said these reports were false.

“Somehow, this subject inspired an unhealthy media response and some media sources keep publishing fake reports on Sergey’s ‘critical’ condition, which is not true,” Timergazina said in her e-mail. Filin “was taken care of by the theater medical service and then by emergency service. . . . The symptoms subsided within the next several hours.”

Filin’s health has been of concern since he was targeted in a Mafia-style revenge plot in January 2013. The attack made headlines around the world and revealed deep tensions over the way Filin was running the historic ballet company. In a subsequent trial, Bolshoi soloist Pavel Dmitrichenko confessed to organizing the assault with two non-dancers. In December, Dmitrichenko was sentenced to six years in a penal colony.

After nearly 30 surgeries on his eyes in the past year and a half, Filin is blind in one eye and has diminished sight in the other. Yet the former star dancer, who is married with three sons, has remained active. Accompanied by Timergazina and his mother, Filin was a judge at the Youth America Grand Prix ballet competition in New York in April. He was to accompany the Bolshoi to New York for its two-week Lincoln Center engagement beginning July 12.

Since taking over at the Bolshoi in 2011, Filin has brought contemporary European ballets — such as the new “Taming of the Shrew” by Frenchman Jean-Christophe Maillot — into the company’s repertoire of Soviet and traditional works. One of his first moves was to hire David Hallberg, of American Ballet Theatre, as the Bolshoi’s first American principal dancer.

“I have helped the Bolshoi Theater to open its doors to talent,” Filin told The Washington Post this spring, “to talented people, disregarding their nationality or birthplace.”

Michael Birnbaum contributed to this report.

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