Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre announced that the controversial ballet “Nureyev” will premiere on 9-10 December 2017, despite director Kirill Serebrennikov’s house arrest, reported Russian news agency TASS on 22 September.
The theatre’s administrators pulled the ballet from the schedule on 8 July, three days before its premiere, while Serebrennikov was questioned as a witness in an investigation over the embezzlement of government funds – a charge he now faces himself while being under house arrest until 19 October; a period that could later be extended by a court.
The ballet chronicles the life of Rudolf Nureyev, a gay dancer who defected from the Soviet Union for the West and achieved worldwide fame before dying of an AIDS-related illness in 1993. “Nureyev” is rumoured to feature nude photographs of the dancer and some dancers performing with exposed genitalia.
Sources close to Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinski told TASS that the minister had concerns that the production violated a Russian law that bans “the propaganda of homosexuality to minors”. A spokeswoman for the ministry denied Medinski had banned the production, but confirmed a conversation between the minister and Bolshoi Theatre director Vladimir Urin.
Urin insisted there is no political subtext to the ballet and denied that the postponement was related to the themes portrayed in the production. He said he had spoken with Serebrennikov, who had given permission to continue the production without him, reported The Guardian.