The Bolshoi Theater canceled the world premiere of a new ballet by director Kirill Serebrennikov on direct orders from Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky, a source told the news agency TASS.
Someone reportedly close to the Culture Ministry told TASS that Medinsky personally intervened after deciding that Serebrennikov’s new ballet, “Nureyev,” contains so-called “gay propaganda,” based on the fact that most of the ballet’s actors would have performed with exposed genitals. The show’s set design also would have included a fully naked photograph of Rudolf Nureyev, the Soviet ballet dancer who defected to the West in 1961.
Officials in Russia’s Culture Ministry have refused to comment on the allegations.
On July 8, three days before the planned premiere of “Nureyev,” Bolshoi Theater director Vladimir Urin suddenly announced that the show’s opening was being postponed. “The performance turned out to be much more difficult than we expected,” Urin explained, saying that the premiere would be delayed until early May next year.
Kirill Serebrennikov, the ballet’s director, set designer, and author, has refused to comment on the show’s postponement. In late May, Russian police questioned Serebrennikov as a witness in a fraud investigation that has resulted in several arrests.