The inner rivalries and tensions of the Bolshoi exploded open when its artistic director had acid hurled in his face in 2013, as a brilliant documentary shows.
The reopening of the excellent HBO documentary film Bolshoi Babylon, features the public image we expect of the Bolshoi: beautifully costumed and made-up ballerinas, bathed in blue sun, performing Swan Lake .
But Nick Reads gorgeously shot documentary has two more complex and darker tales to tell, away from the perfect make-up and costumes: one about what happened after the notorious acid attack on the companys artistic director, Sergey Filin, in 2013, and another about the tangled and fascinating history of the Bolshoi itself.
The world of the theatre is cruel. It looks beautiful from the outside, but underneath everything is boiling .
The attack, which left Filin severely burned and virtually blind, was the culmination of long-running hostility with dancer Pavel Dmitrichenko, who had asked another man, Yury Zarutsky, to rough Filin up.
It was a shock to Dmitrichenko when he detected, via Tv news, that Filin had suffered acid thrown in his face.
Dmitirichenko told national courts that Filin had favored certain performers over others, and had slept with multiple ballerinas.
Filin had also passed over Dmitrichenkos girlfriend for roles.
The documentary begins as another general director, Vladimir Urin, begins work at the Bolshoiand there is added bad blood between him and Filin because of the style the latter left a previous post at the Stanislavski Theatre, which Urin had managed.
A lot of the documentarys amazing access and interviewee candor is down to Mark Franchetti, the documentarys producer and co-director, who has worked in Moscow for 18 years as the UK Sunday Times correspondent there.