Retaking Center Stage

Photograph for TIME by JAMES HILL

ON POINTE: A soloist warms up before a performance

The hulking construction site on Teatralnaya square in downtown Moscow doesn't look like much. Situated on a dead-end mere blocks from the colorful spires of Red Square and the dazzling neon of Tverskaya shopping district, it's just another of the city's many renovation projects surrounded by barbed wire and covered with a thick layer of dust. But beneath rickety scaffolding, the building's towering columns and gilded fixtures tell a different story. Under renovation since 2005, this is the Bolshoi Theater, home of the fabled 231-year-old Bolshoi Ballet Company. From his cozy office in the Bolshoi's labyrinthine headquarters across the square, artistic...

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