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Bulk-battle ballerina in meaty role race

Moscow, Dec. 2 (Reuters): An ice cream-loving prima ballerina sacked by Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre for being too heavy and then reinstated said yesterday she expected to be given her old job back and would not accept any lesser roles.

Anastasia Volochkova told a news conference she took umbrage with Russian culture minister Mikhail Shvydkoi for saying she may now have to accept smaller roles and a drop in salary.

She said she expected to play lead roles rather than minor “fourth swan” parts following a court ruling last week that she had been unfairly dismissed and must be given her job back.

The Bolshoi has claimed it cannot find her a partner for ballets which require lifting as she has become too bulky.

“The culture minister’s statement that now, after being reinstated at the theatre, I can only count on a part as ‘fourth swan’, is more than surprising,” Volochkova said, referring to a minor role in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

“Legally I should be reinstated into the same position as I was in before. I have played the leading role in nearly every classical ballet,” said Volochkova, who weighs about 50 kg and stands at 169 cm.

She said she was astonished at Shvydkoi’s apparent change in attitude towards her. “All these years the culture minister came to my shows, praised me, shook my hand, and last year he personally handed me an award, but now he has completely changed his mind.”

A self-confessed ice cream fanatic, Volochkova said her shape was irrelevant. “Height and weight have never been an indication of a ballerina’s greatness,” she said, draped in a red velvet shawl. “Ballet is not an art of kilograms, it is an art of the soul.”

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