Russia's Bolshoi Ballet Academy rejects Misty Copeland's 'blacking up' accusations after African-American ballet star called their La Bayadère production racially insensitive
Top African-American ballerina Misty Copeland has slammed the Bolshoi Ballet Academy for blacking up in rehearsals - an accusation the Academy has vehemently denied.
Copeland, 37, who in 2015 became the first black female principal dancer at the American Ballet, took to Instagram to share an image of two Russian dancers wearing blackface makeup with her 1.8 million followers.
She accompanied it with the caption "This is the reality of the ballet world."
Russian media have said the girls are as young as 14 but Copeland has said they should still have known that blackface is considered racist.
She said: "There is no way on earth, with the access we have to the media, social media, educating and exposing ourselves to the world, that they would be blind and ignorant enough to not know that this isn't acceptable."
Bolshoi Theatre director, Vladamir Urin dismissed accusations saying: "The ballet La Bayadère has been performed thousands of times in this production in Russia and abroad, and the Bolshoi Theatre will not get involved in such a discussion.
“Finding some sort of deep insults in this is simply ridiculous. No one has ever complained to us or saw in these small Moors an act of disrespect,” he added.
Russian prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova supported Urin saying: "There is nothing strange here, it's absolutely normal for us...this is art."
Copeland, who has been vocal throughout her career over the lack of diversity in the ballet world, later took to Twitter saying: "I get that this is a VERY sensitive subject in the ballet world. But until we can call people out and make people uncomfortable, change can't happen."