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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.