Russia | Was Nureyev ballet postponed because of its gay content?


Pic: Allan Warren

The dance world is abuzz following the shock postponement of a major Russian production about the life of gay ballet legend Rudolf Nureyev.

Vladimir G. Urin, General Director of the Bolshoi Theatre, announced the news at a press conference in Moscow on Monday.

There have been reports that the highly anticipated premiere of Nureyev was stopped on the orders of Russian Culture Minister Vladimir Medinsky because it deals with the late star’s relationships with other men.

It’s been claimed that the show, which was meant to open on Tuesday, also includes male nudity and a naked photograph of Nureyev himself.

After a video of a rehearsal that featured male couples dancing in high heels was leaked, the ballet was slated by outraged conservatives as promoting so-called “gay propaganda”. There were calls for Medinsky to step in and ban the production before its premiere.

It’s also been alleged that the postponement is intended to allow producers time to remove or tone down the gay themes.

Urin, however, insisted that the show had only been moved to May next year because a dress rehearsal on Friday revealed that it was not yet ready to open and needed more work.

The complex ballet is said to feature a cast of 100 performers, including singers and dancers.

“We were very depressed by what we saw,” he told reporters, adding that, “the quality of the production was paramount”.

Nureyev, one of the world’s most famous and acclaimed male ballet dancers, defected from the Soviet Union to the West in 1961. Described both as bisexual and gay, he died from AIDS-related complications in 1992 at the age of 54.

The LGBT community faces ongoing discrimination, restrictions and stigma in Russia. Public demonstrations and Pride events in support of LGBT equality are illegal under the country’s controversial law banning the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations.

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