Published: Tue, July 11, 2017
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Russia's Bolshoi Theatre scraps Nureyev ballet three days before world premiere

Russia's Bolshoi Theatre scraps Nureyev ballet three days before world premiere

The ballet reportedly depicts a frank portrayal of Nureyev's relationship with men and also includes male nudity.

"There will be reputational damage from cancelling, but for us the most important thing is the quality of the production", said Urin.

No official reason has been offered, however it is believed the biographical show's homosexual themes may have been deemed inappropriate for the Bolshoi.

"I realised from the very beginning. that this was a controversial figure, with a tragic fate, and that it would be pretty hard to tell this story", Urin told reporters on Monday, referring to how socially conservative elements of Russian society would respond to a production which touched on Nureyev's homosexual relationships. In a daring move, in 1961 he gave his KGB minders the slip while on tour in Paris and defected to the West, where he became a star as a dancer at the Royal Ballet in London and as a director at Paris Opera Ballet.

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The show's director, Kirill Serebrennikov, was recently questioned over alleged embezzlement in relation to a different theatre company, though supporters of the director maintain the investigation was politically motivated.

The Bolshoi said the dress rehearsal scheduled for Nureyev on Monday had been cancelled, and the premiere set for Tuesday has been "postponed to a later date" that was not specified.

Serebrennikov said it was the theatre's decision but declined to comment on the reasons for the delay, according to the Vedomosti business daily.

Some people, including cast members, compared the Bolshoi situation to the 1935 incident when Joseph Stalin forced the theater to close a new production of a ballet by Dmitri Shostakovich called "The Bright Stream"; it was not revived until 2003.

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Serebrennikov was released, but two of his colleagues were arrested, provoking an outcry from the artistic community, some of whom have written to Putin to protest, according to Russian media reports.

"Nureyev" was expected to be even more groundbreaking, with a potentially global audience because of Nureyev's fame. Urin simply said that the ballet wasn't ready and it will instead premiere next year.

Both Mr. Urin and Mr. Medinsky denied consulting each other before the cancellation.

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