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Curtain falls on Russian ballet director after tumultuous year

By Ralitsa Vassileva and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 4:30 AM EDT, Wed July 10, 2013
The Bolshoi Theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, attends an interview in the theatre in Moscow, on March 19, 2013.
The Bolshoi Theatre's general director, Anatoly Iksanov, attends an interview in the theatre in Moscow, on March 19, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Anatoly Iksanov led the Bolshoi Ballet for 13 years and still had a year left on his contract
  • Culture Minister: The decision is part of Russia's aim at reforming cultural institutions
  • Vladimir Urin will now fill his shoes
  • The move comes six months after the ballet's artistic director was burned by acid

(CNN) -- The escalating drama at the top of Russia's Bolshoi Ballet is starting to rival its most theatrical stage productions.

Six months after someone threw sulfuric acid on the ballet's artistic director, the Russian government has sacked the dance company's general director.

"Our actions are not spontaneous. They are part of the general concept of the Culture Ministry and the government aimed at gradual renovation and reforming the cultural institutions, preserving their traditions and experience," Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky said Tuesday.

Anatoly Iksanov still had more than a year left on his contract when he was fired Tuesday.

He led the world-renowned ballet for 13 years, ushering in modern twists to the dance company that's now 237 years old. He invited controversial choreographers and composers, started online broadcasts of the theater's performances and introduced workshops for young performers with little or no background in classical ballet, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Rivals battle for control of Bolshoi
Former dancer: Bolshoi acts like brothel

Vladimir Urin will now fill Iksanov's shoes. He must now restore the Bolshoi's reputation after January's attack on artistic director Sergei Filin mired the ballet in scandal.

Filin was walking up to his Moscow apartment when a masked assailant tossed sulfuric acid onto his face, leaving him severely burned and nearly blinded.

Bolshoi dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko has confessed to organizing the attack, but said Filin was only supposed to be beaten. He said he was shocked when he learned about the acid.

Local newspapers quoted ballet members as saying Dmitrichenko was angry because he thought Filin was stifling the career of Anzhelina Vorontsova -- Dmitrichenko's girlfriend.

Police arrested Dmitrichenko, as well as the alleged assailant and suspected getaway driver. Authorities painted Dmitrichenko as a villain -- the type of role Filin often cast him as in productions.

CNN's Phil Black and Zarifmo Aslamshoyeva contributed to this report.

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