The Bolshoi Theatre
has been called the jewel in Moscow's cultural crown. Dating back to the19th century, it is the birthplace of some of Russia's most renowned classical ballets and operas. Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake
premiered here in 1877.
And the ballet company, starting in the Soviet era, produced some of the world's legendary dancers, with their distinctive style -- athletic, colourful and bold. But as long as it has existed, the Bolshoi has also been rife with drama and intrigue.
Ballerinas were at the beck and call of Kremlin officials, politics shaped repertoires, and there were bitter jealousies over roles that could make or break a career. Let's face it, the world of ballet -- like any creative community -- can be vicious.
Even so, Russians were appalled in January when the Bolshoi's artistic director and a former ballet star -- Sergei Filin -- was attacked by a masked man who threw sulphuric acid on his face. He suffered third degree burns and lost the sight of one eye.
Since then, the Bolshoi has been in damage control. Michael Enright speaks to Steve Rosenberg, the BBC's Moscow correspondent, about the Bolshoi's troubled past.
Steve Rosenberg has lived in Russia for fifteen years and has been filing reports from Moscow about the turmoil behind the Bolshoi's storied curtains.
Michael also speaks with Simon Morrison, an historian specializing in Soviet music and the arts at Princeton University in New Jersey.