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© Ismene Brown 2017

Nureyev poster at the Bolshoi Theatre (Valeri Sharifulin/TASS)

09 DEC  17

Nureyev, the most notorious new production in the Bolshoi Ballet’s modern history, premiered last night [Saturday, 8 December] in Moscow to a 15-minute standing ovation and exclamations of official approval even by Putin’s press secretary – but the ballet’s creator and director languished under house arrest, refused permission to see his own ballet. Members of the creative team took the curtain calls at the great colonnaded theatre by the Kremlin wearing T-shirts with the face of Kirill Serebrennikov on them, while spectators chanted “Kirill! Kirill!”, according to news reports.

Serebrennikov, a leading figure in Russia’s contemporary theatre and a vocal critic of censorship, had been implicitly slapped down by the Bolshoi Theatre when his ballet's premiere was cancelled in July two days before its planned premiere in a swirl of conservative protests about the candour of the portrayal of Nureyev's homosexuality, and particularly some nude images of him.

Since then he has been fighting government charges of embezzling public funds at the theatre he heads, and is under house arrest at least until January 19 – accusations widely decried by leading arts figures as politically motivated to intimidate him.

One of his most eminent defenders was the Bolshoi’s chief, Vladimir Urin, for whom he had already delivered a successful new ballet the previous year.

Read the rest of this article on The Arts Desk, where it was originally published.

Bolshoi trustees demand earlier Nureyev premiere

Nureyev ballet will go on, Urin insists

Russian reactions to British Bolshoi documentary

"The ballet's creator languished under house arrest, refused permission to see his own ballet"

Bolshoi Nureyev ballet premieres at last