Russian ballerina ordered reinstated

Wednesday, October 1, 2003

— Thanks to Russia's Labor Ministry, ballerina Anastasia Volochkova may be back at the Bolshoi for an encore.

Labor officials on Tuesday ordered the Bolshoi Theater to reinstate Volochkova, who was fired two weeks ago amid allegations from other dancers that she was too heavy to lift.

The Labor Ministry ruled her dismissal violated labor law, saying she must be rehired by Monday and given back wages, said Andrei Pryanishnikov, a spokesman for Labor Minister Alexander Pochinok.

Bolshoi spokesman Katerina Novikova said it was too early to comment on how the Bolshoi would react to the decision. Pryanishnikov insisted the Bolshoi had no choice but to comply.

Volochkova, a stylish blonde who exudes movie-star glamour, was fired amid a contract dispute and claims by theater officials that they could not find partners to dance with her because she was too big.

Volochkova, who continues to draw in large crowds for performances outside the Bolshoi, has dismissed the allegations that she was too big and said her numerous partners had never complained. After her dismissal was announced, the dancer said that she weighs about 110 pounds and is 5-feet-6.

But a former partner who quit the Bolshoi this year, Yevgeny Ivanchenko, threw his weight behind the theater in an interview, saying the 27-year-old ballerina had become heavy to lift and that dancing with her meant risking injury.


Anastasia Volochkova