For Bolshoi ballerina Svetlana Lunkina, Canada represents a new beginning after she and her family began receiving threats in her native Russia, which she says stem from a feud between her husband and his former business partner.
The 33-year-old prima ballerina spoke to reporters in Toronto Friday to shed light on her relocation to Canada following threats she received at home in Moscow.
News of her move emerged after an acid attack against Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin earlier this month. The renowned Bolshoi has been mired in controversy about favouritism and power struggles in recent years, changing leadership multiple times over the past decade.
Speaking through interpreter Olga Berg on Friday, Lunkina said her decision had nothing to do with the attack against Filin.
Instead, she said she feels she can't go back to Russia because of the feud between her husband, producer Vladislav Moskalev, and his former business partner, performer Vladimir Vinokur, over a failed movie project. Vinokur has denounced Moskalev to Russian media.
Though the spat does not involve her, Lunkina said she began to fear for her life after she and her family received threatening calls and letters from Vinokur. Her Facebook and email accounts were also hacked, she added, and defamatory letters about her sent to top ballet companies around the world.
Known for her interpretation of ballet classics like Giselle, the renowned dancer said there had been no conflict between her and Bolshoi artistic director Filin, with whom she said she has a good relationship. In fact, he had urged her to stay when she asked for special leave because of the threats, Lunkina noted.
Officially, she will remain on leave from the Bolshoi "for family reasons" until the end of summer, at which point she will decide her plans for the future.
On Friday, Lunkina said she isn't ruling out applying for a post at the National Ballet of Canada, where artistic director Karen Kain has allowed her to take classes with the company, a courtesy typically offered to visiting dancers. She added that she is also entertaining offers from other companies, though declined to say which ones.
This is where home is, Lunkina told reporters.
The dancer said she's a permanent resident in Canada, where she and her family have spent much time over the past decade and both her 9-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter were born here.
Most recently, she has been in Canada for about six months and has joined Toronto's Dance Teq studio for a teaching stint. Lunkina and her husband have also registered a dance company under her name in Kleinberg, Ont., where the family lives.With files from Zulekha Nathoo, Sian Jones and Deana Sumanac