10/06/2003 at 01:00 AM EDT
Anastasia Volochkova, until recently prima ballerina of Russia's famed Bolshoi Theatre, stands 5'6" and says she weighs 110 lbs.—practically elfin in the land of vodka and borscht and no giant by ballet standards. Yet when the Bolshoi fired her on Sept. 16, they acted as if they were getting rid of a dancing bear. "No one wanted to dance with her," says Bolshoi spokeswoman Katerina Novikova (adding that there were also contract disputes). "She is heavy for a ballerina."
So heavy, in fact, that the Russian press reported that her frequent partner Yevgeny Ivanchenko quit the Bolshoi because of injuries incurred while lifting her. He has since, denied it, but the damage was done. "I am in such distress," says Volochkova, 27, who joined the Bolshoi in 1998. "It is a terrible thing for all the world to think I'm too big."
Not that making headlines is anything new for her. In recent years Volochkova—who once said she "couldn't live" without ice cream—has faced accusations of divalike behavior and been linked to a number of high-profile men (including, according to some papers, Jim Carrey). Her next move? Suing to get reinstated. Says Volochkova: "I just want to dance."