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Former Bolshoi soloist Anastasia Volochkova has accused the beleaguered theatre of forcing female dancers to sleep with wealthy patrons, in claims that the general director Anatoly Iksanov on Tuesday dismissed as "ravings".
The outspoken dancer, fired from the Bolshoi in 2003 for being too bulky, made the accusations against the scandal-mired Bolshoi in a television talk show on Sunday and repeated them in a radio interview.
"It mainly happened with the corps du ballet but also with the soloists. Unfortunately, the Bolshoi general director has turned the Bolshoi theatre into a giant brothel," Volochkova claimed to Russian News Service radio station.
"Ten years ago when I was dancing at the theatre, I repeatedly received such propositions to share the beds of oligarchs," she said.
"The girls were forced to go along to grand dinners and given advance warning that afterwards they would be expected to go to bed and have sex," Volochkova alleged.
"When the girls asked: 'What happens if we refuse?', they were told that they would not go on tour or even perform at the Bolshoi theatre. Can you imagine?"
Asked to comment on the allegations on Tuesday at a news conference at the theatre, Iksanov said curtly: "I don't comment on dirt and ravings."
The sleazy claims came as the theatre is battling an unprecedented scandal with one of its top dancers, Pavel Dmitrichenko, who is facing trial for ordering a devastasting acid attack on the ballet's artistic director Sergei Filin.
More than 300 staff at the theatre last week signed an open letter to President Vladimir Putin saying that they believed Dmitrichenko was not capable of ordering such a crime and suggesting he had been pressured into making a confession.
Volochkova is a maverick figure who has dabbled in television talent shows and opposition politics, while her solo dancing career has left critics cold.
Iksanov fired her from the Bolshoi in 2003 saying that she was too tall and heavy for male partners to lift.