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Friday, August 25, 2006

So Much for Dance Culture in Neo-Soviet Russia

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St. Petersburg Times reports that there is so little work for classically trained ballerinas in Russia that they are forced to go abroad and take jobs in Japanese sex clubs, resulting most recently in a stabbing murder.

A 23-year-old Russian dancer, who was stabbed to death by a deranged male client at a cabaret club in Japanese town of Kobe last week, was identified as St. Petersburg resident Anastasia Shelepanova, formerly a student at the respected Vaganova Ballet Academy.

Shelepanova was fatally attacked in the late hours of Aug. 16 by one of the customers at Night Restaurant Academy, a club where she worked as a hostess.

“Officers said that the client, a 47-year-old man, stabbed the Russian dancer in the chest and in the neck with a knife while she was sitting with him,” Japanese newspaper Mainichi Daily News reported. “He then stabbed himself in the chest and stomach.”

The Japanese police have so far withheld the killer’s identity.

The attack was originally seen by some Russian media as part of a vendetta or retaliation for the actions of Russian border guards who accidentally killed a Japanese fisherman during illegal fishing in Russian territorial waters earlier this month. As yet, no connection between the two events has been established by the Japanese law enforcement agencies.

The dancer died on arrival at a Tokyo hospital, while the customer who stabbed Shelepanova survived his self-inflicted wounds and remains in a serious condition. Police have not yet been able to interview him and establish his motives.

The police reported that the attacker was a regular guest at Night Restaurant Academy and witnesses of the incident told them that the customer asked Shelepanova to sit with him before stabbing her.

The St. Petersburg dancer was legally employed by the club. According to, Shelepanova was on her third contract in Japan since 2004. She previously worked for a club in Kyoto.

Although Shelepanova did not complete her studies at the Vaganova Academy, her case highlights problems facing many of the country’s classically trained dancers.

The Vaganova’s artistic director, Altynai Asylmuratova, has been calling attention to the lack of work for dancers since taking up her position in January 2000.

Asylmuratova said today’s dancers have limited employment opportunities following the closure of numerous theaters in the post-Soviet era, forcing them to take jobs in clubs.

Japanese authorities offered to cremate Shelepanova’s body but her parents requested that her body be returned to St. Petersburg for a funeral.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's all so sad.